Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Changes Ahead

For the second day in a row, I had to drive into work. Today, my team is having our holiday party - a pot luck lunch. So it is a lot easier to bring stuff into work in my car then hauling a lot of things on the train.

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.


K said...

Lucky you! You missed another abhorrent commute this morning. The P508 pulled into South Station at around 8:58. This marks the 4th time out of the last 7 morning commutes on the P508 that have been delayed by 30 minutes or more.

I am at my wit's end with the MBTA. This is absolutely inexcusable, and downright unacceptable.

I would like to make a list of the areas of my life that have been negatively affected by the MBTA. This list is by no means comprehensive:

1) The MBTA has negatively affected my finances. First, it is an absurd $250 a month to commute to Boston from Worcester on a train that is routinely late. Secondly, the recent parking hike to $4 a day makes it REALLY tight financially, as we are in the middle of a recession.

2) The MBTA has negatively affected my job security. By arriving extremely late last Monday, last Tuesday, Friday, and today, I look like I don't care about my job. This is especially bad in these hard economic times.

3) The MBTA has negatively affected my sanity. It is literally TORTURE to sit on a non-moving train for 30-40 mins with vague announcements. All commuters know this first hand.

4) The MBTA has negatively affected my marriage. Since I've been getting in so late, I must stay later at night, taking away dinner time with my family--something I value greatly. My wife is quite frustrated, and this often causes petty arguments between us. I blew up at her last week over something STUPID, when in reality I was simply frustrated at the trains.

5) The MBTA has negatively affected my social interactions with both friends and customers that I deal with. This morning, for example, when I finally got in the office, my phone rang. I literally stared at it and let it go to voicemail. I was so heated, that I probably would have said something I'd later regret.


Kidney Stones said...

...and that last comment was mine. I accidently hit enter before typing "Kidney Stones." I think it came up as "K", lol.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like it. Don't ride it.

AJ said...

I'm going to be petty on this one and say:

Hey Anonymous (12/16 @ 1:10).
I. like. periods. too. but. you. should. use. them. correctly!

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous@ December 16, 2008 1:10 PM:

So we should accept a crap system? Of course someone can choose alternate methods of travel, but that doesn't *fix* the problem, you meathead.