Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When MBCR/MBTA Trains are Late, Commuters Pay

I'm beginning to think that maybe Train Rider possess some clairvoyant skills. Lately, when the Worcester line has been delayed, Train Rider has either been away on a business trip or driven into Boston. It almost seems like Train Rider knows when the trains will be delayed.

Alas, that is not the case. Circumstances have caused Train Rider to not be stuck on the Worcester train. Although today's T&G article said that the Worcester line trains ran on-time yesterday morning, it looks like the delays are back. Here's what Kidney Stones said about this morning's commute on the P508:
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.

Bottom line is, THERE IS NO MINIMUM LEVEL OF SERVICE WITH THE MBTA.
This is pretty serious and it is something that has impacted people who rely on the trains. I'm not sure what the solution is. No doubt, someone will blame Kidney Stones for being whiny or complaining. What should he do - start driving into work? Stop buying a monthly pass and winging it? For the latter, if the train is late, no biggie (other than possibly losing your job or causing your marriage to implode), you've only spent $4 getting into the city if passes aren't checked.

The Worcester line obviously has some serious issues occurring. Sure, today's T&G article was all fine and dandy - everything looked fixed. But something needs to be done . . . this needs to be addressed beyond "we know it is bad." Start developing solutions. Too bad transportation is imploding in Massachusetts.

Here's a thought - why can't the Worcester line get the trains (the newer cars) that run on the Greenbush line? If some lines (Worcester, Fitchburgh, Franklin, Providence) have a lot of delays and if the delays are due to mechanical issues, why can't trains be moved around. That way, the bulk of the delays just don't happen to commuters who have the unfortunate occurrence to live along an unlikely line.

Any thoughts? Any suggestions? The boiling point has been reached.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

unfortunately, the delays this am on the Worcester line weren't caused by a broken train, but by a broken switch in the Brighton area. Trains in or outbound couldn't be routed through the area. This is the only part where there is only the one track for trains to use (as opposed to one track for trains in each direction). This was completely a CSX issue. All the more reason for the state to take this part away from CSX ASAP, to eliminate one obstacle. Doesn't solve the whole problem, but it's a piece.

Train Rider said...

Kidney Stones -

You know, when I was driving in, I saw all of these trains backed up along the Pike. I thought for sure they were the Framingham and Worcester locals (the later trains), but now, not so sure. I think I saw the non-local trains.

What a mess.

Train Rider

Anonymous said...

If Anon at 11:36 AM said that today's delays were caused by a broken switch, what I don't understand is why send more trains down the tracks? Why can't the MBCR/MBTA or whoever it is actually in charge of the trains, have a contingency plan in place for rush hour? People could be bused to Boston. At the very least, why can't they tell us the truth and tell us why a delay is happening? That way, I can make my own decision and either wait for a late train or drive to work.

Anonymous said...

CSX does not own the track between Framingham and Back Bay - The MAssPike does. CSX owns the track from Framingham to Worcester. There are not enough places to change from one track to another between Framingham and Boston. This is an infrastructure problem that will not change with a change in ownership of the track

AJ said...

I took the P512 in this morning. It arrived in Grafton on time, but we kind of doddled from stop to stop. Then in West Natick or so, they announced we'd be a local. The Framingham Local ahead of us never got green lit to leave this morning because of the switch issue, so we picked up their passengers. It was a very crowded train this morning. Once we hit the Brighton freight yard, we had to stop and let 2 Outbound trains go through. Then we had a medical emergency, so we had to make 2 stops at Yawkee. The emergency was in the front of the train, so we stopped there, but the train was too crowded for everyone in the back to make their way to the front 3 cars, so we stopped a second time. They waited a good long time at each to make sure anyone who needed to get off could, and then finally off to Back Bay an hour late.

I have to say the conductors and engineer were great. They gave updates as to our status every 5 minutes or so and seemed to be trying their best to get us in as quickly as they could. While the delay sucks, the attitude was refreshing. I didn't mind the fact that we were late while we sat tight (if only because my company is cool with these issues and I had no meetings or other attention grabbers) because at least I knew what was happening and about how long it would take. I thanked the conductor as I exited and would love to thank the engineer if I had seen him.

Anonymous said...

just for fun, I called the MBTA to see how many outstanding fare reimbursements I have, and no one was able to tell me anything. Apparently the server has been down for the past two days due to interference by the General Manager. What fun...

Mass Driver said...

AJ -

You're absolutely right about the communication this morning on the p512.

I think we expect delays as part of the commute, but it adds insult to injury when there is just utter silence from conductors or engineers.

I know there are conductors and engineers who go out of their way to care for the passengers and I thank them for that.

Anonymous said...

It is too bad that the T (or MBCR) isn't a merit based system. It would be great if we could do something to reward those employees, like the conductors on AJ's train this morning, for providing exemplary service.

Instead, we have to deal with buffons like Dan Grabauskas. Per Anon at 1:09 PM - did GM Grabauskas really ask for the server to be taken down? Is this true? Too bad a member of the media can't investigate. Because if it is true and if those fare reimbursement requests are lost, that's just unacceptable.

Too bad the Governor can't force out Dan Grabauskas. Grabuaskas is awful. I think he has some golden parachute, so even if he gets fired he gets paid. What an incompetent transit head.

Anonymous said...

THE MBTA MUST BE DISMANTLED AND THE TRANSIT SHOULD BE HANDLED IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WAY. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT WOULD BE, BUT OBVIOUSLY THE CURRENT SYSTEM SUCKS. TODAY THE OUTBOUND TRAINS WERE JUST AS BAD. THEY ONLY CREPT ON THE TRACKS, WESTBOUND, AND NO REASON WAS GIVEN. THANKS A LOT, MBTA, FOR MAKING ME LATE ONCE AGAIN. I AM DISGUSTED. EVEN THE CONDUCTORS ON THE OUTBOUND (12:10 P.M. TRAIN) WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE SYSTEM AND THEY HAD NOTHING AT ALL GOOD TO SAY ABOUT MANAGEMENT, ALL OF WHOM DRIVE COMPANY-OWNED CARS WITH FREE GAS.

Anonymous said...

I'll note that the alert I got when we were Nth in line for the switch light on the P508 this AM was nice enough to recommend we make "alternate arrangements". Tonight, I'm just livid at my fellow commuters who
- "reserve" a table seat for their friends and make a big snit if you actually want to sit at the table and use it to get work done instead of playing cards or whatever
- sit at one of the rare power outlets and don't use it
...today I absolutely need to get a few things done on the otherwise waste of time, and had to slog my way to the last bloody car to get juice.

I often stand, offer up my seat when I am sitting, etc. Politeness is useless as no one riding gives it back. The damn trains need more damn outlets.

Anonymous said...

45 minutes late this morning because of the switch, so I worked an extra 30 minutes this evening, got on the train at South Station (I am too hot and tired to look up the number, let's just call it the P52SUCK 5pm express to Worcester), and the car we were in was blowing hot air! I am not exaggerating or making a joke, I have a thermometer dohicky on my backpack and it said ----90---- FREAKING DEGREES! After a while they just shut the air off completely, but it never got cooler. I think they are trying to fry our brains so that we stop complaining???

Please, everyone that got tortured this morning, don't forget to apply for your refund, even if you have a monthly pass!

kieran said...

On the bright side, I use 12-ride tickets which are clicked by the conductors only intermittently. With these delays in the past week and a dearth of clicks I stand to make money riding the Worcester line for the month of December! This hasn't happened since last January. I might quit my day job and ride trains for a living.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, I would note this: doors not open when arriving in S. Attleboro in the A. M. and, um, lack of attention to checking passes and punching 12-ride tix in the PM. Why is this so difficult?

BAM in RI

Anonymous said...

the reverse (boston-worcester morning commute) was even worse yesterday. took THREE HOURS to make the journey. train just sat there in allston for 2 hours. i'm on the P508 again this morning, and the conductor made another apology, blaming CSX, claiming it's beyond the control of MBTA. they didn't bother collecting tickets today...

Anonymous said...

Occasionally Greenbush will have one of those 6-car-long old made-in-West-Germany single level trains. That's when the problems happen.

The Kingston line is full of the all-2-level cars. If Dan had a brain at all, he'd think it would be a good idea to split them up onto other trains.

And, finally, why isn't the T's finances made public? That'd be the catalyst for some real management. Deval should do that instead of putzing around with a Cadillac, personal trainer, and new drapes.

Anonymous said...

I have 7 reimbursements from Dec in hand. I drive in the last week as I have to get some work done. This means that for the first 3.5 weeks of Dec I was late > 30 min 7 friggin' times!!!!

Do you think that my employer wants to hear about CSX? or switches? or whatever excuse you want to make????

Why is it always Mon or Fri when we have these delays on Xcelations?

My gut feeling is there aren't enough bodies showing up for work and they are forced to cancel the train. The unions have destroyed Detroit and they will do the same for the rail.

I have gotten my parking spot back and will drive from now on. A guaranteed 1 hr back to me a day with the 50% likelyhood that it will be 2 or more.....