Monday, August 18, 2008

Road Work = Missed Train

Chi-town was awesome. What a great city. I loved it!

I was even able to take the EL train. My flight was delayed due to weather on Friday, so I finally arrived at Chicago's Midway airport around 8:30 p.m. CDT. It took me 45 minutes to get into downtown Chicago from Midway. I connected somewhere on the Loop. It was cool riding an EL train.

Since I parked at a remote lot, I took the Silver Train to my car last night. The Silver Train was a total cluster eff. Ah, back in Boston I guess.

My original intent was to take the P512, which departs Grafton at 7:49 a.m. But due to unbeknownst road closures in my area, my drive to the station was re-routed and I didn't arrive until 7:47 a.m. Since the train was already there, I didn't have time to park, walk across the bridge and get onto the train. So I drove in. Blah. I was really looking forward to my train naps!

The MIT story is the one that just keeps on going on and on, huh? Another front-page article in today's The Boston Globe. The T is just not handling this very well. Zack Anderson, one of the three students involved, noted the following:
Anderson said the MBTA should consider his project an opportunity to improve security. He says the students omitted enough key details from their 87-page PowerPoint presentation, titled "anatomy of a subway hack," that others would not be able to program free rides onto their CharlieCards. The students also say that after they were visited by FBI agent Jacob Shaver and MBTA Sergeant Richard Sullivan on Aug. 4, they gave the MBTA a confidential "vulnerability assessment" so the agency could fix the gaps in its fare-collection system.

"It wasn't to enable others to get a free fare or cause any sort of havoc," Anderson said, calling over the Internet from Mexico, where he was on vacation last week. "It was really to show how major the issues are in this system, which also might resonate in many other systems around the world."

Even one Scott Kirsner, a columnist who covers technology and emerging issues, has weighed in with an article about this situation. Scott provided a great summary of the coverage to date - he noted that Kristen Amico, a blogger at high tech PR firm Schwartz Communications in Waltham found 400 blog articles along on the topic. Amazing, huh?

The bad news for the MBTA just keeps rolling in. A T employee is the latest "public servant" who apparently thinks that skimming from public funds is A-OK." What is this - the third Massachusetts public employee outed this summer for stealing? In the latest case, 20 year MBTA employee Gilberto Carrasquillo was caught in a sting operation for stealing cash from MBTA lock boxes. Unreal. I really enjoyed reading The Boston Herald's point of view. I guess Gilberto's $70,757 annual salary wasn't enough? Shame on him and all the other public employees busted for stealing from the Commonwealth this year.

Yesterday's "Starts & Stops" column that ran in the Western Globe regional editions was interesting. Apparently the Metropolitan Transportation Agency in New York needs to make-up a $900 million deficit. They just implemented a 3.85% rate hike in March and another one for buses, trains, subways, and bridge/tunnel toll booths may be coming. Essentially the MTA is encountering the same issues as the MBTA - more riders, higher fuel costs, and less revenue from taxable sources.

The Northern edition of "Starts & Stops" focused on an increase in ridership for buses operated by the Lowell Regional Transit Authority.

Finally, WickedLocal Acton covered the ongoing saga of the South Acton commuter rail station's parking lot plan. People who live in South Acton feel that the planned one-story parking structure will ruin the character of an historic neighborhood, increase traffic and not help solve the parking issues plaguing this Fitchburg line's stop. South Acton has some of the heaviest traffic flows in Acton, especially during rush hour.

The T is being charged with adding 1,000 parking spaces along the commuter rail lines as part of an agreement with environmental groups that was part of the Big Dig's mitigation. The South Acton garage is supposed to coincide with other improvements to the Fitchburg line. The goal is to cut times from Fitchburg into Cambridge and then North Station by about 30 minutes.

Acton residents are frustrated with their inability to obtain details about this project from the MBTA. The town may have to commit to the project before plans from the MBTA engineers have been finalized.

Some interesting suggestions were made at last week's meeting to discuss the South Acton station.

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