I still cannot get over last week's ice storm. It is utterly amazing, when you think about it, that the Blackstone Valley was virtually untouched. Yet, many parts of Worcester and towns west and north of Worcester are still cleaning up. Some towns still do not have school today. Luneburg has canceled school through the New Year. Crazy, huh?
Thinking about all of the destruction the ice storm has caused, I was pretty surprised to see an article in today's Telegram & Gazette about last week's commuter rail delays. According to the MBCR, the Worcester line is back on track - yesterday the morning commutes were 100% on-time.
So why were things so messed up last week? Well, before December 8th, delays were due to speed restrictions put into place by CSX. "Significant mechanical problems" combined with cold temperatures caused the delays last Monday through Wednesday. The ice storm caused flooding on the tracks in Natick and Wellesley and caused a felled tree on the tracks in Worcester. Due to these issues, the inbound tracks (I'm assuming inbound to Worcester) didn't open until 10:30 a.m. on Friday. Mechanical problems on Friday also delayed 12 trains, with five of them delayed for at least 1 hour or more.
The ice storm also caused a lot of damage to the Fitchburg line. Even the MBCR's spokesperson acknowledge that last week's mechanical issues were too much:
“The breakdowns last week were unacceptable,” Mr. Farmelant said.While the MBCR said the November on-time performance for the Worcester line was 90%, for the first two weeks in December that performance is now 84%. This is considered an improvement over last year, when only 57% of the Worcester line trains arrived on-time. The article also noted the following:
The state has taken steps to improve train service over the past year. Three new inbound and two new outbound trains were added to the Worcester line in late October. State officials are still negotiating to purchase the Worcester track from CSX, with the goal of adding more trains in the future.Yesterday's The Boston Herald contained an article about the state's transportation woes. Lt. Governor Tim Murray was interviewed. The Lt. Governor is blaming past gubernatorial administrations for the current transportation crisis. Per the media speculation yesterday, State Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen did resign yesterday. His resignation is effective January 2, 2009. According to The Boston Globe, the Governor is considering James A. Aloisi, Jr. as Cohen's replacement. Aloisi was on the short list to be Transportation Secretary two years ago, but he was passed over due to his ties to the Big Dig. This is what The Globe had to say:
The new leader will take over at a crucial time for the millions of people who rely on the state's roads and transit systems each day. The financial crises at the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the MBTA, which are both facing crushing debt and yearly deficits, have pushed the transportation debate to the top of Beacon Hill's agenda as commuters worry about large toll hike proposals this year and the potential for heftier transit fares that could follow. Legislators have complained that Patrick has dragged his feet in delivering a specific reform plan, which he first promised more than a year ago.
Last night, Cohen did attend the Mass Pike public meetings. Read about it in today's The Patriot Ledger.
Today is the Stop the Pike Hike protest. If you use the Pike, the Stop the Pike Hike group requests that you don't use your Fast Lane transponder and you pay using inconvenient currency.