Monday, September 29, 2008

Fast Lane and Leaves on Tracks

Yesterday's "Starts & Stops" column in The Sunday Boston Globe was full of interesting nuggets.

The lead story is about a program the cash-plagued Mass Pike is launching. The Pike has a pilot program launching sometime in the near future where 5,000 free Fast Lane transponders will be given to drivers willing to participate in a survey to understand why the drivers are not using Fast Lane. If you were to run out and get a Fast Lane transponder right now, it would cost you $25.95.

Automating the toll fares is one way the Turnpike can cut costs. If there are more Fast Lane users, there can be fewer toll collectors. It costs $.47 to manually collect a toll, while it only costs $.14 to electronically collect the fare. Yes, people would lose their jobs, but the Pike was supposed to be toll-free years ago. So if that had ever happened, theoretically people would have already lost their jobs.

Currently 61% of all the Pike's tolls are processed electronically.

There was a short story on the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. (MBCR). The MBCR has built a machine that washes away leaves from the tracks, a cause of delays in the fall.

The article noted that the commuter rail trains haven't been running on time over the past few months. In August,17.5% of all trains were at least 5 minutes late. For September from 9/1 - 9/25,the trains were 14% late. I wish they would publish a line by line listing of the on-time results. How else can commuters keep track of this?

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