Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Missing Car Makes the P508 More Crowded

Good morning. Some parts of Massachusetts received their first taste of snow today. It looks like the forecast for Friday could bring more snow. I'm taking Friday off to run some holiday errands, so I hope the snow doesn't interfere with my plans.

Today's commute was fine, although we were a car short so it was quite crowded. We were about 5 minutes behind schedule, which is good for a day like today. Especially since, in the western suburbs, there is more snow/sleet, as opposed to Boston which only has rain. The P508 pulled into South Station at 8:28 a.m. The Silver Line was a cluster, though. The platform was packed and people couldn't even get down the stairs to get onto the platform. Crazy.

Yet not as crazy as yesterday's commutes. Figures, the T&G's article about "things returning to normal" on the Worcester line would run on the same day that the commuter rail trains (again) went out of whack. Kidney Stones was not the only person to document yesterday's mucked up commutes. Universal Hub wrote about how the commute was Tweeted by Alison Driscoll (Tweeted is a term referred to communicating on Twitter, a microblogging site). Alison is a reverse commuter - she takes the MBTA's/MBCR's Worcester line outbound from Boston. From her Tweets, it appears as though she was commuting yesterday on the P503, which departs Boston at 6:50 a.m. Here is a snapshot of some of her Tweets from yesterday:

Frustrating, huh? We've all been there. What's even more disheartening are some conversational Tweets she had with other people on Twitter.
If you use Twitter and you Tweet about the MBTA, consider following Alison's lead and mark your MBTA-related conversations #mbtasux.

People are frustrated. But people are also not just bashing the MBTA/MBCR employees. Commuters who rode on yesterday's P512 train did praise conductors for updating them about the commute. Many of the comments made to yesterday's post provided by Kidney Stones are really enlightening. We should all consider some of the feedback - especially in the courtesy area.

Transportation is the theme of some op-eds this morning. An editorial from today's Telegram & Gazette denounces replacing just resigned Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen with James A. Aloisi. Aloisi was someone praised by Lt. Governor Tim Murray, a Worcester native. Meanwhile, The Boston Globe gave their editorial this title: "Our transportation mess." The Globe's editorial team summarized a number of ways transportation has become a daily "100 car pileup" and they closed with this:
Level with people. Many of today's woes can be traced to conflict avoidance - underestimating the cost of the Big Dig; giving in to unrealistic demands by public employees; dealing with spiraling costs by deferring maintenance and borrowing more money.
How true. Many, many of the complaints logged here on Train Stopping result around communicating. Tell the truth - even if it hurts - instead of telling tall tales. I hope MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas and his communications team read that last paragraph closely. We're not a bunch of gullible children - we're adults. We're taxpayers. Tell the truth instead of just a bunch of outlandish fairy tales.

Yesterday, WCVB-TV Channel 5 aired yet another report on the MBTA's parking fee increase. Similar to some recent coverage, this piece focused on how commuters are opting to pay to park at private businesses instead of the MBTA lots. Here's a link to the video. This is such a feel good story: cheaper parking, safer cars (because they're actually watched), a bit of customer service, and helping businesses who are also struggling due to the economy. Simple, simple solutions to the increase.

I would actually love to know how much money the MBTA has raised since the increase went into effect. Are they actually generating more revenue or are they at a break even, since so many people seem to be avoiding the increase by parking their cars elsewhere, carpooling, or getting dropped off at the stations.

Dig published a piece about the illogical of how MBTA Green Line trains run.

Today's Boston Globe noted that a lot of people aren't buying Fast Lane gift cards for Christmas. Another revenue stream gone bust.

This is from the Sunday, but its The Metro West Daily News' take on Stop the Pike Hike.

Finally, since some parts of Massachusetts received snow today, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. With that in mind, check out this MBTA-inspired take of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" from The Bostonist.


Kidney Stones said...

I guess I have to hand it to the MBTA today. Considering the horrible weather when we departed Worcester, arriving only 5 mins late was quite an accomplishment. My hat goes off to the engineer and the conductors today.

One minor complaint: when I'm sitting in a seat, it would be nice if commuters who are standing DIDN'T put unwanted body parts in my face. This girl literally had her butt within 6 inches of my face. Offensive? I'm thinking yes.

Anonymous said...

Get E-Z Pass instead because the transponder is FREE. That's right, FREE. You need only pay for replacement transponders. You accomplish a few things with this:

1) You save $25.

2) You send a message to the MTA (and the state of Massachusetts) in apparently the only language they know: money.

3) If you travel, E-Z Pass is accepted in practically every state from Maine to Virginia, with lots of discounts, all much greater than the paltry discounts the MTA offers.

I kept my E-Z Pass account when I moved from NY and I haven't regretted not converting to Fast Lane. I even got my wife (a Mass native) to convert to E-Z Pass!

Speaking of which, does anyone know the current status of the class action suit against the MTA for not offering E-Z Pass holders the same discounts as Fast Lane holders on the Pike? I knew this was happening for years, but since the discounts were less a dollar, I ignored them. Now I'm laughing all the way to the bank.

Anonymous said...

re: whether the increase in parking is bringing in any money - there were a ton of open spots at the Framingham lot today when I got there at about 7:45. I haven't been to Framingham in a while but it used to be that you needed to get there before 7:30 or all the spots were full. This is just anecdotal and may be due to people on vacations or whatnot, but I thought it was noteworthy.