Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The T Desires to Play the Role of Emily Post or Miss Manners

A bit of a change with this morning's commute. I decided to take the P512 train, which departs Grafton at 7:49 a.m. I barely made it to the station on time. There were police officers all over Grafton this morning, so commuters were driving super slow. The commute was fine. We arrived to South Station at 9:05 a.m. or so, a few minutes ahead of schedule.

Commute-a-holic saw our favorite friend, MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas, being interviewed this morning on Fox 25's morning news program. Commute said that Dan provided a better workout, as he was his swarmy self on the interview. For whatever reason, Fox 25 does not provide code so bloggers can post or share video, so here is a link to the video segment with Dan's interview. You may wonder "Why was Danny G. being interviewed by Fox 25 this morning." Well, it is because the T announced a new marketing campaign - aimed at making riders more polite.

Can you believe it? The T, which is basically bankrupt, is spending money to communicate to their passengers that they need to be more polite while using the T. Good grief!! You know, Muni Manners already does this and they probably do it better. So why couldn't they just save the money and link to the Muni Manners blog off of the T's website? I am incredulous that the T is spending money on this campaign. This is utterly absurd.

Here's an idea - maybe if the T ran its services on time and actually had clean trains/buses, people wouldn't be as pent up as they are. I'm not advocating that riders have poor manners, but sometimes tempers flare because commuters are just frustrated.

It is stuff like this that causes people to want to see things like Question 1 go through.

If you don't feel like seeing Danny G. smirk in the video, you can read all about the T's latest marketing campaign in this article from today's Boston Metro.

Moving on. The Boston Globe ran an article today about the proposed Silver Line III project. Funding that project and other transit initiatives is the focus of two separate articles in today's Boston Metro. The Metro articles pick-up on the MASSPIRG report, announced over the weekend. One article is about how "Funding will decide the fate of Mass. transit," while the other focuses on "Shaping the MBTA for the 21st century." We all know that funding for mass transit and other transportation issues in Massachusetts is in dire straits. Here are some data points that the MASSPIRG report noted:
  • 93,000,000 - amount of hours wasted in traffic delays in the greater Boston area during 2005.
  • $4.3 billion - Massachusetts residents spent $4.3 billion more on gas in 2007 compared to 1998.
  • 57% - the increase in vehicle traffic in the Commonwealth from 1980 to 2007.
SouthCoastToday.com also published an article about the MASSPIRG report.

Finally, Rep. Tom Sannicandro (D - 7th Middlesex District) wrote a guest op-ed piece for today's The MetroWest Daily News. Rep. Sannicandro details the pending purchase of the CSX tracks. His article states that this purchase will "will lower commute times and vastly improve the overall effectiveness of the Commonwealth's commuter rail program. The most dramatic and immediate changes of the plan will be enacted on Oct. 27 when the number of daily trains leaving Worcester will increase from 10 to 13, and the number of daily trains leaving from Boston to Worcester will increase from 10 to 12."

Yes, when we first heard the news that more trains were being added to the Worcester line, we were initially excited about this. But then when we saw the schedule, we noticed that essentially trains just got moved around.

From what I want and from what I've gathered from other commuters on the Worcester line, riders would like to see the following:
  • More express trains from Worcester: Frankly, it would be great if trains could run express from Ashland to Boston.
  • More express trains from Framingham: Commuters who live in Framingham and points East do not want to have to rely on the regular trains for their commutes into Boston.
  • More train options for off-peak commutes: This includes riders who commuter from Boston and points west and more afternoon trains leaving Boston for Worcester-Framingham riders who may need to leave the office early.
I am hopeful that these changes will happen. However, I do not want to see our elected officials just rest on their laurels because they were able to purchase the tracks from CSX. Acquiring the tracks is one thing. Implementing a more vibrant train schedule is another.


AJ said...

Hey Rider-
I had an appointment this morning, so I got to watch Dan's Fox 25 interview. They started by pressing him a bit on the parking rate increase. First off, have you seen signs anywhere? You would think it would be fairly publicized, but I really haven't heard much about it. If I didn't read your blog, I probably wouldn't know. Apparently, this is both an inflation based increase, as they haven't gone up in some time, and a revenue generating increase. It's $2 across the board, which jumps the T parking from something like $5 to $7. It just seems big to us because it's 100% increase for commuter rail riders. It will also generate something like $20 million annually, to be put towards old debt the T carries. Yay. While I guess that makes sense, it still sucks.

They then asked him about this Silver Line 3 plan. From what he said, this isn't something they want to do, it's something they're required to do. I guess it was written into the Big Dig contract so many years back. I wonder who's idea it was at that point? Did the T want to do it and change their mind? Was it the City's idea? State?

Finally he got to the new etiquette ads. Being in advertising, I must say they are BAD! Just lame copy, generic design. I really hope (but I suspect otherwise) that they didn't pay top dollar for these. I can think of 5 people immediately from my 506 commute home that stand at the same point on the platform I do who could really use a manners tune-up. However, it poses the question my friends and I ask daily. Do they know or comprehend how rude they are? If they don't see what they're doing as rude, why acknowledge the new ads? If they know and just don't care, they aren't changing because the MBTA asked them to, so again, why the ads? It's an idea that clearly was not well flushed out, nor well executed, but an attempt at some good PR.

Can we just be honest? The new campaign should be, "Hey, we know our service is sub-par. Let's just all try to not make each other more miserable!"

SF Muni Ladies said...

AJ - we couldn't agree more! As riders of mass transit, we all have to check ourselves and try to 'not make each other more miserable'. It's not about agency print ads, it's about passenger action. Momma always did say, practice what you preach and lead by example.

Special thanks to Train Stopping for the shout out. Glad to hear that Boston riders get it too! Working together to change transit one ride/rider at a time.

Smooth riding,
SF Muni Ladies