Thursday, February 5, 2009

Being Punctual Matters to MBTA/MBCR Commuter Rail Riders

Hello Train Riders! Both Train Rider and I have had a busy week this week. But we do not have any complaints about being busy - we're both happy to be employed. Plus, keeping busy means you can stay warm. It is brisk out there, huh? It was 5F while I was driving to the gym this morning and a balmy 8F on my way to work.

WBZ's "Conversation Nation" started a thread this morning about commuter rail punctuality. This thread was started based on an article in today's The Boston Globe about how late arriving trains could actually cause a decrease in ridership.

This is a topic, unfortunately, that Train Stopping is all too familiar with.

The Globe's article includes this stunning chart that compares on-time averages across all the commuter rail lines in 2007 versus 2008. Think about this:
  • January 2007 - 93.0% on time
  • January 2008 - 77.4% on time
  • January 2009 - 76.7%
Those are not numbers that help commuters. Many of the people interviewed in The Globe's article indicated that they would prefer to ride the train for both financial, personal and environmental reasons, but they can't rely on it and need to drive themselves to work.
Over the past six months, during a time when the MBTA was trying to show new riders the wonders of mass transportation, one in five commuter trains arrived at least five minutes late, and many were much later. In December and January, the problem worsened - in part due to weather, maintenance problems, and track construction - with nearly a quarter of the trains failing to arrive within the five-minute window.
One in five trains are at least five minutes late!!

MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas, in his great fashion, of course places the blame for the on-time performance on factors ranging from the weather to the MBCR. This is Dan's way, huh?

The MBCR notes that the old equipment is owned by the MBTA and that the MBCR is considering purchasing their own used locomotives because the T hasn't bought any new ones.

The article also acknowledges that some lines are worse than other lines.

The Eagle-Tribune also wrote an article about this winter's train woes. This article focuses on the Haverhill line and the ungodly commutes that people have endured.

Well, maybe if the T managed their budget better, they would have some more resources to run the trains properly. Yesterday's Globe ran a front-page article on how different state agencies, including the MBTA, hire outside lobbyists. The T spent $48,000 on lobbyists last year alone. Governor Patrick has said that state agencies can no longer use lobbyists.

Finally, more on the Green Line extension.

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