The new Blue Line cars were supposed to be in service 2 years ago but the project has been delayed over and over again. A month ago the Globe wrote of the latest problems with the cars that includeleaking doors and smoking air-conditioning systems. The T board approved purchase of the new cars in November 2001, with delivery of the first ones scheduled for January 2004. Siemens was hoping the Blue Line contract would give them a foothold in the United States subway market so one can assume they lowballed the bid to the T to get the contract. Once again the T is learning that you get what you pay for. For whatever reason you never see experienced subway manufacturers like ALSTOM in the Boston market. Coming on top of the BREDA fiasco on the Green Line you just have to scratch your head at how this continues to happen to the T. The Siemens website proudly tells us about the new Blue Line trains and their specs but doesn't mention when they plan to deliver them.
For the Silver Line Siemenstouts these improvements (PDF) On paper it seems wonderful and I'm sure their salesman did a fine job selling them to the T but the problem is they have never worked as designed. The T's public response last April was "most of the technology developed for reliable and efficient service on the Silver Line is operational today -- sort of." But when it comes to letting riders know when the next bus is due, ''the MBTA has not been satisfied with the accuracy of the 'real-time arrival' messages," he said.
The contractor is working on fixing flaws in the software, said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. If they can be fixed, the ''next bus arrival" information will soon be displayed.
The contractor is theSiemens division in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
I have spoken to several drivers who said the original test vendor for GPS did a much better job but was shutout by Siemens when the entire system went out to bid. That vendor was a company known asClever Devices who did have the test contract with the MBTA a few years ago. They currently have contracts with Chicago, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Dallas, Long Island, Pittsburgh, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Sacramento and elsewhere. In Chicago the computer announcements sound human with a pleasant male voice. The SF Muni now ever offers real time status on their website for select transit routes. Will Siemens get it to work in Boston? We can only hope but the Silver Line is 4 years old and it hasn't been fixed.