Thursday, January 28, 2010

The P508 was Late ... I Assume

This morning was quite an adventure. While standing at the Grafton T stop, I got a T Alert saying that the p508 which usually departs Grafton at 7:09 AM was delayed by 1/2 hour. A few minutes later, a train arrives, so we all board and we head into Boston.

Not until we're in Framingham do we hear that the train is actually the P506, which is running on the p508 schedule ... but making all stops to Boston. So really, it wasn't on the p508 schedule at all, because the p508 doesn't stop after Natick. Semantics! We arrived at South Station at about 8:40. I definitely submitted for reimbursement today.

I'm not sure what's been going on at night lately, but the P529 (the 6:15 PM departure from South Station) has been all single cars this week, which results in us being jammed into the train like sardines.

Hopefully this isn't a sign of bad commutes to come!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Commuter Rail Schedule Changes and On Time Performance Statistics

Effective Monday, January 11, there will be schedule changes for the following commuter rail lines: Fairmont, Fitchburg, Greenbush, Haverhill, Middleborough/Lakeville and Plymouth/Kingston.

Updated schedules can be found at or you can pick up paper copies of the schedules at North Station, South Station and Back Bay Station.

Ah, these must be consistently late trains in terms of on-time performance, hence, let's make a schedule change! (Do I sound bitter?)

I will say that the MBCR website has been recently updated and there is a lot of new information on it ... which FINALLY includes On Time Performance statistics! No more searching out the posters in South Station. The November performance stats can be found here

Overall for November, trains were on time 83% of the time, down from 88% in October and 93% in September. On the Worcester line, on time performance in November was 89%, 84% in October and 89% in September, with YTD on time performance at 87%.

The best performing line continues to be Greenbush, with YTD on time performance at 95%. The worst performing line is Middleborough, with YTD on time performance at 82%. However, for the month of November, Middleborough only had 26% on time performance. That is completely unacceptable. If I rode the Middleborough line, I would be livid!

Also, MBCR now posts the reasons that on time performance was not reached:
  • November 2: Crossing Failure on Fitchburg line- 10 delays
  • November 3: Train 129 Mechanical problems- 11 delays
  • November 5: Train 442 fatality on Fitchburg line line- 12 delays
  • November 6: Broken rail at Beverly- 13 delays
  • November 7: Train 1703 fatality on Franklin line- 5 delays
  • November 9: Train 328 mechanical failure- 17 delays
  • November 13: Train 006 mechanical failure- 11 delays
  • November 24: Lowell line signal failure- 14 delays
  • November 28: Train 1165 fatality on Newburyport line- 1 cancelled train
  • Ongoing Speed restrictions on the Middleboro and Plymouth/Kingston Lines due to concrete tie deterioration causing delays.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MBCR Announcement Re: Departing Trains

Received this MBCR Rail Mail today regarding changes to boarding/departing commuter trains.

Effective January 11, 2010, except in the case of emergency, customers will no longer be allowed to enter or exit from the “operating end” of the control coach. The engineer operates the train from this location on inbound trips. Upon arrival into Boston, there are mandatory safety duties for engineers to perform which do not allow for foot traffic through the operating end of these coaches.

Signs will be placed on the coach door on that end of all control cars to remind customers of this rule. Please enter and exit only through a door that is attended by a crewmember.

We appreciate that there will be some inconvenience to our passengers that are accustomed to using the control car exit door, but for safety reasons we must enforce this new policy. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Commuter rail service information, including updated commuter rail advisories/alerts is available on the MBTA website at, or by calling the MBTA Customer Support Services Center at 617-222-3200.

I always sit in the first car, so this will make for a bottleneck once we get to South Station. I wonder why all of a sudden it's a safety concern though? I've been taking the commuter rail for six years and this is the first I've heard about it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday On Time Commute

Two for two with on time commutes so far this year as the p508 was on time to South Station this morning, arriving at 8:23 AM.

In other MBTA news, three former MBTA employees plead guilty to filing false time sheets at their MBTA construction/engineering jobs. In essence, they submitted time sheets and were paid for work they did not do because they never even showed up to the work sites. One of the former employees will spend a year in jail and have to pay a $10,000 fine. The other two received two year suspended sentences and two years' probation. Frankly, they should also have to pay back the money they made during this scheme.

Also, MBTA unions have been trying to stop changes to scaled back retiree benefits that were implemented under the new transportation law signed this past summer. The unions have been seeking an injunction on the changes that would reduce health care for retirees. A state judge has rejected the bid, stating that former contracts guaranteeing free health care for life no longer apply. This is a big step in reducing overall costs at the MBTA.

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Commute of 2010

Now that the holidays are over and work has calmed down somewhat, I'm back to riding the rails on a regular basis. This morning's commute on the P508 was right on time, arriving at South Station at 8:22 AM. We did have some minor heating issues in the first car, but other than that, it was a pretty smooth trip.

Passing along some MBCR news that came into my Inbox a few weeks ago with respect to safety ... interestingly enough, this email arrived just after the news broke about that hidden break room in Somerville ...

Commuter Rail “Putting your Safety First”

Winter is here, thus “tis” the season to be train safe. At MBCR our number one priority is the safety of our passengers and employees. The winter season is upon us and we would like to offer you a few safety tips and reminders:

  • Please arrive at the station and be on the platform 5 to 10 minutes prior to your train’s departure time. To keep your train on time, our conductors must adhere to the departure time shown in the timetable.
  • Please be aware that once a conductor has signaled to the engineer that the train is safe to depart, he cannot stop the train to allow you to board, even if he sees you running from the parking lot.
  • Customers are reminded that they must never open their own traps and doors, but instead MUST board or exit at a door where a conductor is present.
  • Please watch your step when you are boarding and exiting the train; the platform and train stairs could be covered in freshly fallen snow or it could be slick from rain which has turned into ice. Use the handrail at all times!
  • When you are on the train, please be aware that the floor of a coach could be wet from passengers boarding and exiting; this could create a slipping hazard.

Following basic safety rules is very important and we ask all passengers to board and exit trains carefully and responsibly. We need everyone’s cooperation to ensure both a safe and pleasant commute.

Most of the this list is just common sense, but I have to comment on the third bullet point. There is no reason why an entire train full of commuters should exit from 1 or 2 doors. At the most, there are three conductors on the train and they cannot monitor every door. This reminds me of the silent strike when they used to make us herd out of 1 door, that delayed train times by almost 20 minutes.