Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Blogiversary Train Stopping!!

Today marks the one year anniversary of the launch of Train Stopping. As you may recall, at this time last year, performance was abysmal not only on the Worcester-Framingham line, but across the commuter rail system due to a silent working strike by the conductors. I started the blog to raise awareness of the issues we were facing and to open a dialogue about public transportation issues. Since the launch, I’ve been fortunate to be interviewed by Fox 25 TV, The Boston Globe, The Worcester T&G and numerous blogs about my commuting experience. Plus, Train Stopping has benefited from being mentioned by other blogs or actually being featured in the blogrolls on other blogs, which has been nice.

What has really changed in the last year after 473 posts? Well, let’s put it to a pro/con list:

Pros:
  1. The increased knowledge of transportation issues across Massachusetts. I never used to think much about the trains or Mass Pike tolls. But as these agencies fight their way out of seemingly insurmountable debt AT THE EXPENSE OF TAXPAYERS, I am motivated to inform and get involved.
  2. I’m glad I have the option to take the train. Is it perfect? No, but it is a safe, somewhat consistent and reliable alternative to driving. This was abundantly clear when gas hit $4.25 a gallon.
  3. The impact on the environment that I have by taking public transportation and not driving 42 miles each way on a daily basis
  4. T ridership was up over 23% this year . . . although I expect to see it come down now that gas prices have fallen under $2.00/gallon. And with Governor Patrick putting a gas tax increase on hold and Senate President Murray considering legislation to put the toll increase on the back burner, I think people might go back to driving.
  5. Knowing that I’m not alone in my daily commuting adversities … it’s nice getting validation from other riders not only on the Worcester-Framingham line, but on lines across the commuter rail system.
Cons:
  1. Problems with On Time Performance were never really addressed; all the MBTA did was increase the schedule to reflect that they never met their performance times to begin with. Schedules were adjusted by adding upwards of 15 minutes to "better reflect" travel times. The media bought this hook, line and sinker. Elected officials got to pat themselves on the back for "doing something." Yet riders, especially those of us on the Worcester- Framingham line really didn't get to benefit.
  2. We're paying more to commute than we were at this time last year.
  3. Speaking of On Time Performance, good luck finding the statistics about train performance. If you happen to be in South Station in the ticket line, the times are posted there, but I think they should be posted publicly on the MBCR and MBTA websites.
  4. More trains were added to the Worcester-Framingham line, but from an express train option, my options remain the same (see point #1). It really seems like it was a political game . . . months of hemming and hawing about CSX and liability and then when apparently that is resolved, 5 “new” trains are added, but really, only one is “new” and the rest are local trains. (By the way, my local train trip from Boston to Grafton is 1 1/2 hours if the train is actually on time. This doesn't account for my drive to Grafton and getting to my office once I'm in Boston).
  5. Fare collection is still inconsistent, curious considering the MBTA needs every little bit of revenue they can get.
  6. Trains are more crowded due to the rising cost of gasoline. T ridership was up over 23% this year . . . although I expect to see it come down now that gas prices have fallen under $2.00/gallon. And with Governor Patrick putting a gas tax increase on hold and Senate President Murray considering legislation to put the toll increase on the back burner, I think people might go back to driving.
I want to thank all of the commuters who have read and contributed to the blog, especially AJ, Kidney Stones, Richard, Grafton Train Rider, Fitchburg Train Rider, and all of the Anonymous posters who add their valuable insight.

And finally, I’d like to thank my partner in crime, Commute-a-holic, who keeps this blog humming when I can’t. Thanks everyone!!

We'll be back later with a news round-up.

6 comments:

AJ said...

Happy Birthday Train Stopping!

Maybe that 508 was a gift from the MBTA? It was unusually light this morning, and an overall pleasant trip. Let's hope the afternoon trains follow suit.

Kidney Stones said...

Happy Birthday to a fantastic blog!

greatergrafton said...

Happy Blogiversary!

One thing I wonder, as I weigh the pros and cons of applying for jobs in Boston -- I know taking the train has its time problems, but what about the actual experience of taking it? If I'm going to be stuck on it for hours all day, am I at least going to enjoy the ride?

Mass Driver said...

Greater Grafton -

Overall, riding the train is a pretty good experience. I generally read, watch movies on a portable DVD player or nap. It's also relaxing to be able to sit back and let someone else worry about the driving.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your bloggiversary, and keep on doing what you're doing! This is one of my tops reads, and is especially good for venting after a particularly bad train ride home.

susan said...

Congrats on your blogiversary!