Monday, December 22, 2008

Refused to be Stuck on the P508 Today

Are the commuters who take the P508 even in Boston right now? I ended up driving to work this morning. When I arrived to the Grafton station at 7:07 a.m. and saw that people were milling around, I didn't think it looked too promising. I asked one of my fellow commuters if there were delays and he said "yes," so I checked the T alerts and it said that all inbound trains from Worcester were delayed 15 to 30 minutes due to CSX not clearing the switches in Worcester.

I turned right around, got into my car and drove into work. Which worked out well, because I do have a lot of errands to run tonight and I had a meeting that I can't miss this morning.

According to commuters who use Twitter, it looks as thought the outbound Worcester trains are delayed.

This is not a good way to start the week. I have a business trip tomorrow, so I won't be riding the rails at all.

Commentary from today's Worcester Business Journal focuses on how the Commonwealth needs to address transportation structure issues.

Yesterday's The Boston Sunday Globe contained a front-page story on how most Massachusetts residents believe a gas tax should be used to fund the transportation budget deficits. The article noted that many residents of the Bay State really question what impact, if any, the Big Dig had since it cost so much money. The "Starts & Stops" column in yesterday's Globe reported that the MBTA station lots have fewer cars in them. The T is still claiming a victory with the parking fare increase, since more revenue was brought in during November due to the fees. There was also this "Letter to the Editor" about the Silver Line Phase III project and an editorial about the T's drug policy in Sunday's Globe.

On Friday, the Governor named James Aloisi the new Secretary of Transportation. Many pundits do not agree with this selection. Read about it in this article.

Saturday's The Boston Herald contained this article about residents upset with how the T chopped down some trees along the Mattapan trolley line.

Similar to the Boston Metro's Q&A, the Examiner is now running a Q&A with MBTA GM Daniel Grabauskas.


Framingham Rider said...

Well, the P500 (4:45 am from Worcester) was cancelled this morning. We found out at the Framingham stop about 20 minutes after the train was supposed to be there. So the P502 was changed to a local, and was a little late but no more than 5 minutes or so.

Things were going smooth until we got to the Allston area, where we came to a stop and watched a frieght train pass. Then we sat some more, and waited, and waited, and waited. The conductor came on and said we were waiting for another train to pass. So we waited some more. After maybe a half hour or more of just sitting there, another train passed and we finally started up again. The train ran slow the rest of the way in, too. We pulled into South Station a little after 8:00, so I was only an hour and a half late for work. Great way to start the holiday week!

Anonymous said...

Who knows what happened to the 508. I get on at Natick, where the 508 normally comes at 7:51. I waited for about 45 minutes (unbelievably cold); a train came around 8:20-- of course it was a local, not the express.

The conditions on board where atrocious. Commuters packed back to back, including every square foot of the vestibule area. Most of the doors were not opened since the conductors could not get to them. One guy had to stand in the bathroom since there was no room elsewhere. Not even sure what time we got into South Station-- well past 9.

An interesting story-- one conductor told us she and the rest of the train crew were digging out switches by hand in Worcester at 4:30 AM this morning. By hand. Unbelievable. The train system in Boston isn't even good enough for a third world country.

Richard said...

It was pretty bad this morning. I usually take the 6:55 out of Worcester, but took the 7:35 today. It actually left at 7:35 (assuming it was the 7:35 and not a much delayed 6:55). It moved along fine until Southborough, where we sat for a little while. We got to Framingham about 15 minutes later, but from then on it was a very slow route, which ended up becoming a local train. I don't know why that route needs to stop so many times in Newton, where there are other options for people to get into the city. We ended up pulling into Back Bay about an hour late. As much as I'm angry at the MBTA, their website stated that the delays were due to CSX not clearing the switches. The snow stopped last night. Can't switches be cleared by the morning commute. We live in a snowy climate and these things should be taken care of. It was an upsetting commute and coming on top of all the other bad ones during December, this doesn't bode well for the MBTA. I do have to say that the 5pm train to Worcester has been doing very well and even arrives a few minutes early some nights. The problem lies with the morning commutes. I should also add that I checked the MBTA website about 6:30 this morning and there was no mention of any problems.

Anonymous said...

I was on the same slightly-after 8am train the previous poster referred to . The signs in Framingham said "Next Train to Boston 7:50 - 8:00am", and it got there about 8:05am, overruning the station platform so much that from the handicap access platform you couldn't even get onto the diesel engine, let alone passenger car. We packed into the overcrowded train, happy to have standing room and knowing everyone east of us was doomed. A rider aboard indicated that this was in fact the P506, running 50 minute late. Not sure what came after it, but the P510, which turns around in Framingham, still hadn't arrived at the station as of 8:05am (The P510 is the P505 previously and should be in Framingham at 7:45). What I found irksome about this morning's commute is that this storm, and the snow and ice, was not a surprise. It wasn't a go to bed with clear skies and wake up to snow and a messy commute. It's been snowing for 3 days. Everyone at the MBTA/MBCR should have known what the track conditions would be like and should have been out there at 3am, not 4:30am, digging out the switches. They knew what the situation was before the last train run last night.

Anonymous said...

I took the 502 and am totally disgusted. Surprisingly the train was not too crowded (considering we were the 500 and 502 combined) but the notifications were terrible. The message board at the station said the train was going to be a local but also that we would arrive at South Station at 7:08 (or the normal scheduled time). We haven't made it to South Station at 7:08 in weeks, there was no way we'd do it as a local - that guarantees an additional 20 minutes. And to top it off, there was nothing posted on the T's website about the cancellation / delay until 7:03 this morning.

I want to know which part of the weather forecast the T and CSX didn't understand? If the first train is supposed to leave at 4:45 am then parking lots should be plowed and trains should be ready to move. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out. The T and CSX need to learn to work together and stop putting riders in the middle of their tug of war.

Pete said...

Not to be nitpicky, but I broke this T story on the MBTA tree cuts along the Mattapan High Speed Line on Thursday in the Dorchester Reporter. The Herald stole the glory 2 days later without giving us the credit. It's a bad habit they have...

Anonymous said...

I took the P504 out of Framingham this morning and it was pretty miserable. It was 25 minutes late and it was a short train, especially given that it was late enough to pick up the P506 passengers. The whole ordeal prompted me to send this right after my reimbursement request.

Subject: I've really had it with you guys

Today's commute was a nightmare. I was willing to give you guys a
little slack on account of the weather and the upcoming holidays.
However several things happened that I think were inexcusable:

- you didn't notify passengers about a 20 minute delay (to start, we
ended up being almost an hour late at South Station) until the train
was already ten minutes late. If we had known we could have been
waiting in our cars or at home.

- when the train actually did arrive 25 minutes late it was smaller
than usual - 6 singles rather than the usual 5 doubles, and because it
arrived at the regularly scheduled time for the P506 that meant less
equipment for twice the volume of people.

- you blame the overall problem on CSX. I'm sorry but that just
doesn't fly. It doesn't explain why you sent us inadequate equipment
for the P504. And with the storm over yesterday evening you had
plenty of time to make sure things were ready for the Monday commute.
CSX's role is irrelevant. You are responsible for our safe and
reliable service.

- There was inadequate snow removal at Framingham. There was no way
to get from the parking lot to the train without trudging through a
foot of snow.

This all comes in the wake of major delays over the past two weeks,
and a 20% back-door fare hike via the additional $2 a day on parking
ostensibly to avoid having to "reduce service," though frankly this is
happening anyways. Your system is broken.

You have to fix this. As fuel and environment issues are on the rise
public transportation is a key issue in the coming years.

Thank you.