Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sleety Icy Work from Home Day

Due to the weather conditions in Central Massachusetts, I'm working from home today. If anyone has updates about today's MBTA/MBCR commutes, feel free to share them as comments or email either myself (worctrainrider AT or Commute-a-holic (commuteaholic AT

From today's The Boston Globe, an article about the state's transportation situation. There is a real possibility that Mass Pike tolls, T fares and gas taxes will increase in 2009. It might be one increase, say just a gas tax increase, or increases across the board. Our transportation system is broken.

Also in today's Globe, an article about how the T is still showing a strong increase in the number of riders. The article mention that more riders are evident on the MBTA's/MBCR's commuter rail lines. Across the country, transit systems have noticed an increase in riders. Transit experts say it is too soon to say if Americans have undergone a paradigm shift and are moving towards mass transit.

With all the information about the increase in ridership, it would be nice if the MBTA/MBCR could publish their on-time performance stats for the commuter rail lines. I would love to see information about the commuter rail performance for 2008 and also a monthly breakout.


Richard said...

I took the 7:35am train from Worcester to Boston and the commute was perfect. It arrived on time at Back Bay Station. I've also been noticing that the 5pm train to Worcester has been running exceptionally well lately. The MBTA clearly has the potential to run a timely system. They just need to work on maintaining the trains and the signals so they don't fail. These seem to be the major problems.

Anonymous said...

I took the P506 today since I expected the P508 to be delayed due to the ice. P506 ran right on schedule. I heard the P508 was late.

Fran said...

Given the histrionics regarding the parking rate hike at commuter rail stations found in numerous postings on this blog, care to comment now that this data demonstrates that it had no negative effect on ridership?

AJ said...

P508 was super-smooth this morning. The grounds crew was out shoveling and salting when I arrived in Grafton this morning, and the train pulled in right on time! We arrived at Back Bay at about 818, so right on schedule.

It's days like this that I'm glad I ride the train!

Train Rider said...

Richard, Anon @ 9:46, and AJ -

Great news. I'm thrilled the trains were running on schedule today. This is a great start to the new year. Thanks for sharing your commutes today.

Fran -
Thank you for your comment. Notice how today's article about the MBTA's ridership didn't contain any information about parking revenues. On the parking front, I do believe more people are opting out of parking at MBTA lots in lieu of being dropped off or parking elsewhere.

That's great that ridership is holding steady, even though gas prices are at their lowest point in four years. If gas remains at its current state, it will be interesting to see if the ridership holds later in the year, when the weather gets better. I know of a number of people who chose to commute using public transit during the winter months to avoid driving long distances on days like today.

Without a doubt, the MBTA/MBCR and other Massachusetts transportation entities have a hard course ahead.

Fran said...

Train Rider: That is true, no revenue numbers were incorporated into this particular story about ridership, but I refer you to the Globe story referencing parking revenues you blogged about on 12/22 and a separate blog you made on 12/29. Your earlier posts were quite strong in your opinion the rate hike was a bad business and ridership decision (NB: on 12/22 sarcastically "the T is claiming victory" and 12/29 mockingly "I wonder what the T is smoking"). Just wondering if you still believe this is true.

Anonymous said...

...and as winter sets in, we have the plethora of jerks who think that "keep parcels off seats" doesn't apply to their bags. Yes the floor is dirty, put it up in the rack. That's what it is there. Can lift? ask for help.

Train Rider said...


Our opinions regarding the parking fare increase are strong because we do not feel that T riders should have to pay for T employee back wages? Our main criticism is that the T was not transparent about the reason for this increase. It's not as if the parking fare increase is supporting the lots themselves. MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesatauro mentioned it himself.

I'm sure my observations and Commute-a-holic's observations are not scientific, but they are our observations: that people in suburban lots are either getting dropped off or they've come up with an alternate plan for parking. To to my eyes, the lots are not as full as they once were when it was $2 to park.

Do I think it is bad business to not tell the whole truth? Yes. Do I think the T could be impacted? Yes.

Obviously it remains to be seen how this will play out.

Thanks for your comments.

Train Rider

Anonymous said...

The T never said that the new parking fees were going to be used for anything other than those court-ordered back wages. Also, the fees collected never went directly towards supporting parking lots previously. What sort of "transparency" were you expecting?

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 3:48 PM -

Logic and reasoning doesn't belong on this blog.

Anonymous said...

To all the naysayers who feel this blog and T riders shouldn't complain about the parking fees, I think your wrong.

T riders who park their cars are paying for a service they don't receive. The T doesn't use the money that riders pay to park to support the parking facilities. It is like a T slush fund - used for other things.

When you are a consumer and you pay for something and you don't get something in return, you have a right to complain.

As Americans, we saw that our country was founded based on the principal that taxation without representation is wrong. I think paying $4 a day to let my car sit in a lot that doesn't get blowed, is icy and isn't safe is wrong.

Shame on the T.

I find this blog very logical. If the T were run better, the complaints would be fewer. Instead, the T is a big circus users are forced to endure.

Anonymous said...

Again.... who ever said that the extra parking fees were going anywhere else other into the employee's pockets? If the T had said it was going to increase parking lot services, you'd have a point, but they didn't. So why are you still complaining?

AJ said...

I know this blog is moving down the list as far as freshness, but I'd love to chime in. Speaking only for the Grafton lot, the parking fare increase has definitely effected the amount of people who park their cars in the lot. Not necessarily ridership, but people who use the lot.

Almost three years ago, I regularly parked in the 2nd isle for the P508 train. As winter takes away a good number of spots, I move back to the 4th isle. This past spring, as gas prices rose, my regular spot stayed in the 4th isle. The summer saw a move back to the 6th. This was unprecedented! The week that parking fares rose, I was back to the 2nd isle. After that, I could actually find spots in the 1st isle as well.

Now that we have a baby and a budget, being dropped off saves roughly $80 per month for my wife & I, so we do it. Yes, it's inconvenient. No, I don't enjoy being at yet another person's mercy as far as when I can get home (in the event my wife has plans, runs late or some other emergency strikes).

I was the last person I thought would switch to a drop off. The drop-off line in the morning is the longest I've ever seen it, and that doesn't count the people who just drop-off and leave. These are the people who drop-off and wait. When I get off the train at night, the line of cars waiting to pick people up blocks one whole side entirely.

The point is, I still see the same people morning and night while riding the train. The difference is, I now see their husbands and wives as well.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:49 PM

This increase has caused me to see that I'm paying for service I don't get. Period. I'm paying to park, yet I park in a lot that isn't plowed, isn't ice free, isn't maintained. That pisses me off.

So the T "never said that the fees weren't going anywhere else other into the employee's pockets" doesn't give the T a free pass on this one.

SHAME on the T for mismanaging their budget, for not being able to deal with the unions, for being a pretty crappy run public agency. I think the Mob probably provides better customer service.

Sorry if I would like to see public entities held to a higher level than the T is. I guess T employees aren't embarrassed - they're all laughing to the bank b/c they get to hoodwink riders.