Based on comments received by Train Stopping yesterday, it looks like the first day of the new parking fees caused fewer people to part at the MBTA stations. It will be interesting to see if people find ways to avoid parking or if they just stop taking the trains all together.
Yesterday blogger Jeff Korzenik wrote about how the parking increase could cause people to not use the T in his blog (in)efficient frontiers. Jeff made some great observations and some excellent points on how consumers behave rationally.
This morning offered a good lesson on the rationality of consumers of energy and transportation. Today was the first business day that parking rates increased at MBTA (Boston’s regional transit authority) train station parking lots. My small station has a limited number of spots (about 150). As fuel prices rose earlier this year, drivers chose mass transit over driving in to Boston, and the lot filled earlier and earlier. When gas prices were at their peak, the lot generally filled by about 6:45 a.m. As gas prices have declined, the lot generally didn’t fill until about 7:00 a.m. Starting today, the higher parking fees will raise the annual train commute cost by $500. At 7:00 a.m. this morning, the lot was a third empty. As the relative cost of fuel-efficient mass transit increased, and the cost of driving has decreased, consumers have acted rationally and switched back to driving.
CommonWealth magazines CW blog used the recent issues plaguing transportation entities in Massachusetts as a reason to provide links to a number of current and past articles about transportation.
Over the weekend, the By any media necessary blog published an excellent letter written to Governor Deval Patrick, calling for the resignation of MBTA GM Daniel Grabauskas. The author Cara Lisa Powers, commutes from Worcester to Dorchester via the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line and the Red Line. That's a super long commute, huh? She cited a number of reasons why she chose to commute via commuter rail, including the "new" Worcester line schedule and the T's highly touted free Wi-Fi. She points out that, if you rely on the Worcester line, there really isn't a good schedule if you do work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and she even shared Customer Service's feedback:
I made this decision with two key MBTA advertisements in mind: (1) That the trains on the Worcester/Framingham line now have wireless and (2) that the Worcester/ Framingham line was adding four new trains to the schedule just days before my November 1 move. Since the beginning of my commute, just 2 weeks ago, I have been increasingly stressed, irritable and astounded at the MBTA’s blatant lack of regard for the needs of its riders. First, I found that the trains added to the schedule were at the beginning, middle and end of the day, and not at peak travel times like extending the 5:15 train from South Station to Framingham or the 8:00am train that runs from Framingham to Boston to run at approximately 7:19 from Worcester. Given that there seemed to be no practical commuter schedule for someone working a regular 9 to 5 schedule in Boston, I called Customer Service to complain. I was told by the Customer Service representative that they obviously could not cater to everyone’s schedule, he was not sure what I would like for him to do. After citing my 9-5 schedule, I recommended that the additional trains be revisited. I was given no way to follow up and see how my complaint was recorded or would be acted on.
Cara is singing Train Rider's song. A lot of us have thought the same thing and have voiced similar complaints.
However, unlike many commuters, Cara is fortunate to work for an employer who will create a flexible schedule for her. Even with her commitment to ride the rails, Cara noted:
She moves on to say that, in her opinion, the MBTA has forgotten it serves the people of Massachusetts. Cara continues to make some excellent points and I encourage everyone to read her full post.
With constant price hikes, little accountability, and continuously deteriorating service, I have to seriously consider driving to work. It would save me at least 2 hours a day, which in my line of work as a community organizer is precious. There are very few days that I am able to leave work on time, and on those days I want the dependability to know that I can get home when I plan to. Three times this week, a late train, either on the Commuter Rail or the Red Line which takes me from JFK/ UMASS to South Station has caused me to get home later than anticipated, today by a full hour because of a late train on the red line. This is incredibly frustrating when I already have a 12 hour day and little time to even eat dinner and shower before having to go to bed to get up for an early train.
Finally, a Live Journal post by Christopher Parker contains his post made to the Boston Metro's Q&A with Dan Grabauskas. Christopher is a bus rider who also had some interesting observations.