Wednesday, September 23, 2009

That's What Trash Cans Are For ...

If you recall, last Wednesday evening stations along the Red Line and Orange Line were shut down during rush hour because of two separate fires, which were attributed to trash on the tracks.

Today, Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser and the MBTA have begun urging riders to prevent fires in subway tunnels by dumping their trash in garbage cans -- not on the tracks. Hmmm, doesn't this sound like common sense? How lazy must you be to think the train tracks are your own personal dumping ground?

According to the Globe, the MBTA said Fraser's public service announcement is one part of a three-part response to the fires that infuriated thousands of home-bound commuters.

The second part is a reminder to T employees they should pick up trash or alert dispatchers when garbage is spotted in a tunnel so a crew can safely be sent in to clean up the mess.

Finally, the T's power department, which oversees the electrical wiring throughout the system, is to map out a plan to replace the most derelict electrical systems with materials that generate far less smoke should future incidents occur.

In other news, the P508 was right on time this morning, arriving at South Station at 8:23 AM.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Commute

Took the p508 this morning, we were about 5 minutes off schedule, arriving at South Station at around 8:28 AM.

I took yesterday off from work (as I had to recover from a great U2 show the night before!), but I heard that there was a huge issue on the P523 train which departs South Station at 5:00 last night? Anyone care to comment?

Read an article in the Globe this morning that the MBTA has recently updated their transit maps, since some were quite outdated. The project will last about 2 years and cost upwards of $500,000 to replace maps in all stations and will, for the first time, include information about the fifteen busiest bus lines.

Don't know how I missed this one, but the MBTA unions have filed a lawsuit against the state to block them from cutting worker benefits. According to an article in the Globe, the reduction in MBTA benefits is a cornerstone in a sweeping transportation law passed this year that was a top priority for Governor Deval Patrick. No other single change is expected to bring as much savings to the state. The major changes in benefits would require MBTA employees to join the state health care plan, as well as eliminating retirement provision that allows an MBTA worker to retire after 23 years of service and collect a generous pension. Looks like this will be a fight for a long time to come between the unions and the state.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MBCR Speaks Out Regarding Worcester Line Mishaps

Received some Rail Mail from MBCR yesterday about the two mishaps earlier in the week that impacted Worcester trains.

You know, I'm thinking that the near miss on Monday was a lot more serious than they're letting on. Two trains headed toward one another on the same track at normal speeds? Thank god our engineer put the emergency brake on ... that would have been 100 times worse than the accident on Tuesday morning. I'm hoping that the dispatcher who allowed that to happen is no longer dispatching trains.

Here's the Rail Mail letter:

Dear Worcester Line Customers,

I wanted to take a moment to address two recent, but entirely separate, operating incidents that have received much attention.

On Monday, September 14th at about 6pm, CSX dispatchers routed an inbound and an outbound train onto the same track between Back Bay and Yawkey Stations. Thanks to the alert actions of our on-board and operations staff, the trains stopped without incident and there were no injuries.

On Tuesday, September 15th, just after 9am, an inbound train struck a bumper post at South Station while traveling at low speed. At present, 18 passengers and one crew member are being treated for injuries. None of the injuries are known to be serious.

On behalf of MBCR and the MBTA, I apologize to each of you who may have experienced a delay due to these incidents and thank you for your patience. If you require further assistance, please contact us at

Passenger safety is of paramount concern for MBCR and the MBTA and we have initiated a full investigation of both incidents. We will fully-examine all possible factors leading into each event and take any necessary action to ensure the safety of our passengers, the public and our employees.

While the investigations are ongoing, you may be assured that all of our staff will continue to work safely. You can have full confidence in the safety of our service and that the experience, training and dedication of our employees will provide you with a safe commute. I have full confidence in their professionalism.

Thank you for riding the commuter rail system.

Richard A. Davey
General Manager
Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad (MBCR)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Worcester Train Hits Bumper at South Station

The inbound P512 Worcester commuter train hit the bumper at the end of the track this morning at South Station, injuring 18 passengers. This is the train that usually arrives at South Station at around 9:05 AM ... and the train I've been taking lately, except for the past two days.

MBTA officials told the Herald that 18 people have been reported injured - including some passengers taken out of the station on backboards. The engineer and a conductor have been placed on paid leave while transit officials investigate the 9:08 a.m. accident. The engineer will undergo drug and alcohol testing.

But, T officials said today’s crash on the Worcester/Framingham line is due to operator error. The engineer said he “misjudged” the distance between the end of the line and a concrete bumper, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said. Pesaturo added there is no reports the engineer was on a cell phone “or any other electronic device.” He said the engineer has already submitted a letter to his boss stating it was operator error.

Commuters aboard train 512 had already stood up from their seats to exit the six-car train when it made contact with the bumping post, causing some people to fall down, said Pesaturo. “The train hit quickly and people bounced,” said Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald.

Passengers tell the Herald they were brought to their knees by the sudden collision. Officials said 100 people were on the train at the time of the crash. “We were slowing down to a normal stop then BANG! A hard stop,” said Shaw Lively, 56, who said he jumped on the train in Ashland for the first time in five years. “I went flying through the air,” he added, saying he hurt his knee.

Police said radio transmissions will be studied today and an expert will look at the brakes. The MBTA said that the train was moving at a low rate of speed when the accident occurred.
Emergency responders told the Herald 18 people were being treated for what first appeared to be minor back and neck injuries, with 13 of the injured transported to the hospital. Many victims had to be strapped into backboards to be taken away. Other passengers who had left the scene reportedly returned to tell emergency officials of neck or head pain. Another five who were injured did not need hospitalization.

P508 On Time

The p508 was on time to South Station this morning, arriving at 8:24Am. Seems we've been a car short for a few days now though, which has been causing crowding on the train.

In other news, apparently a train arriving at South Station has rammed a barrier, causing injuries to passengers. No additional news available at this time.

I think last night's incident on the p529 warrants a mention again. According to news sources, the potential incident is more serious than we passengers were lead to believe. CSX is referring to it as a near collision.

I'm sure the conductors didn't want to incite any panic on the train, but that's just crazy. How can the switch operators not know what tracks have trains on them?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Excitement on the P529

There was some excitement on the p529 this evening ... right outside of Yawkey we came to a sudden stop ... the type where the emergency brake is deployed and you hang on for dear life. Come to find out, we were sent out on the wrong switch and thus the wrong track and the engineer saw another train on our same track ... heading in our direction! We sat there for about 15 minutes, then we backed up all the way to South Station, switch tracks and headed back out.

Morning commutes have been status quo of late ... nothing like running like clockwork!

In other transportation news:
  • Secretary of Transportation James Aliosi has resigned and will not head up the newly revamped Department of Transportation come November
  • The MBTA is shutting down the Old Colony Line from Middleboro to Bridgewater to replace old rail ties starting this Wednesday after rush hour, passengers will be bused between the stations from 8:30 to 4:30
  • New iPhone apps to help you get where you're going on the T include: MassTransit, the NextTrainMBTA, iTransitBuddy - MBTA and to a T
  • The MBTA recently extended the hours when junior high and high school students can use their discount MBTA passes ...times were extended to 11:00 PM

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Commute of the New Month

Wow, when did it get to be fall already? A new season was definitely in the air this morning while waiting for the P508. This morning's commute was right on time, we arrived at South Station at 8:23 AM.

I saw this interesting article in the Herald about how the MBTA is cracking down on fake commuter rail passes. According to the article, the MBTA instituted random ticket checks using technology that allows examiners to immediately identify counterfeit tickets and passes. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure full collection of fares from every rider and hold those who try to counterfeit rail passes accountable. Interesting, I haven't seen anything on my train ... riders, do you have any observations to share?