View interactive map
Saturday, December 23, 2006
View interactive map
Mike posts a pre-1955 map of Boston's rapid-transit system.
I've seen this map before at the Trolley Museum in Maine and it shows the then MTA as it was after the Blue Line was extended to Revere in the early 1950's.
The map shows in detail the old elevated Orange Line which is far different than the modern version. This was the MTA the Kingston Trio sang about back in 1959.
He also told me that out of garage (The Cabot) while some of the boxes are programmed to allow adding value, others have been disabled.
So I would suggest that we all email the superintendent at Cabot to find out what the policy is going to be.
Superintendent Cabot Bus Garage
275 Dorchester Ave.South Boston, MA 02127
By email: CabotSuperintendent@mbta.com
One thing is clear. If riders all decide to fill their cards on the buses instead of retail locations the boarding times are going to be long. It took me about 30 seconds to load $5 on a card to test the system.
Also everyone should keepin mind that whatever you deposit into the farebox will go on the card, there is no way to get change on a bus.
UPDATE 12/21 "adding value to Charlie Cards if you only ride a bus"
12/20 adding value to Charlie Cards if you only ride a bus
Friday, December 22, 2006
What? You missed the free CharlieCards?
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.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
RANT OF THE DAY Is it just me or are the destination signs on the Green Line trolleys just too small to read? The Breda cars have them as do the Type 6 cars ( the 7's were never converted) It really is in issue these days as you have no idea what train is going to be on which track at Park. Today I saw a Heath St car loading where the Riverside usually does.
I use San Francisco has an example, you can read their signs from a distance and it is much easier with a black background and yellow letters compared to the yellow background and black letters the Green Line uses.
from the CTA website
The spectacular train is an amazing sight - during the daytime and at night. The outside of the six-car train is adorned with oversized garland and seasonal images. Thousands of twinkling lights outline the shape of the train and windows, with even more lights running across the tops of the cars.
Interiors of the cars are decked out with thousands of multi-colored lights, red bows, garland, and red and green overhead lighting. The hand poles are wrapped to look like candy canes.
As the train pulls into each station, Santa waves to the boarding passengers from his sleigh on an open-air flatcar that carries his reindeer and decorated holiday trees.
I would love to see the T do something like this.
YouTube has a few clips of the train in action and if you have the time this clip in particular captures the goodwill the train provides
Chicago Transit Authority's "Twas The Night Before...09:42
The popular Christmas story is told with the HOLIDAY TRAIN of Chicago's CTA in the background. The train, decorated with festive lights, makes the rounds of all of the CTA routes. Share in the surprise when it pulls into stations and pass The popular Christmas story is told with the HOLIDAY TRAIN of Chicago's CTA in the background. The train, decorated with festive lights, makes the rounds of all of the CTA routes. Share in the surprise when it pulls into stations and passengers board and are treated to a not-so-usual "L" train ride.
and I have embedded a shorter clip HO HO HO
This is the FIRST I have heard about the magic "white button" on the bus farebox. I have asked several drivers if you could add value to the card on the bus and they all said no. But this is a perfect example of how blogging can help us by sharing info. The T has done a horrible job promoting this feature.
This will really help speed up boarding times... NOT
Using on-board fareboxes to add stored-value can hold up boarding lines and cause transit delays. Consider loading value at full-service in-station fare vending machines or retail sales terminals prior to boarding.
Touch the white button at the top of the farebox to begin adding value to your CharlieCard.
Tap your CharlieCard to the black card target and follow the directions.
Insert money—fareboxes accept cash, coins and even old T-tokens—and press the white button again to 'accept' the transaction.
Tap your CharlieCard again, a second time, to register the value you just added and you're done.
Now comes the bad and ugly. Green Line riders have for years enjoyed free outbound travel at stops beyond the subway. Under the new plan the freebie rides are gone, you will have to pay the same $1.70/$2.00 to return. This is going to cause delays especially on the B line on Commonwealth. Right now all the doors open and people can exit and board swiftly. However since the T now plans to charge for the ride outbound does this mean they will not open all the doors? Perhaps this is another use for the Validator.
Perhaps the T is planning to follow in the steps of the San Francisco Muni that has what is called a "proof of payment" plan.
The Muni plans works like this (MuniMetro is very similar to our Green Line)
Proof of Payment (POP) is in effect on all Muni Metro lines.
Always ask for a transfer on all Muni lines except Cable Cars.
Don't board a bus without paying your fare or showing a pass/transfer/fare receipt.
"Proof of Payment" is physical proof that you have already paid your Muni fare for a particular trip.
You must have valid Proof of Payment when riding on a POP line or while within the paid area of Muni stations.
Your Proof of Payment must be valid for the duration of your entire trip within the Muni Metro System, including time spent within the paid area of stations or waiting at station platforms.
Failure to produce Proof of Payment when asked by a Muni Fare Inspector will result in a large fine.
If you have Proof of Payment, you may board a Metro streetcar by any door.
You must board buses and historic streetcars by the front door, whether or not you have Proof of Payment.
To obtain Proof of Payment, you can:
Buy a pass, passport, or ticket ahead of time, or
At surface stops, pay when entering the front door of a single vehicle or the front door of the first car of a train.
West Portal through Embarcadero Stations: At subway stations pay at a faregate before entering the gated area or platform. Fares cannot be paid on Metro streetcars in subway stations.
Don't get stuck entering with a transfer/fare receipt that will later expire while you are waiting on a platform or riding in a vehicle. If you are not sure your transfer/fare receipt will last, then pay for a fresh transfer/fare receipt on the surface or at a faregate in the subway.
My hunch is this is where the Validator is coming into play. Riders on the Green Line are going to need to show a receipt when asked. Otherwise you can expect major delays on the Green Line especially the "B" line when BU is holding classes.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
We all have our brand new spiffy monthly passes that simply say Charlie Card on them. So for those commuters on the Green Line that have been using the "Show-n-Go" how is one supposed to prove they have a pass embedded on the smart card. Well the people at Scheidt & Bachmann have come up with a solution. It is called the Validator. The T has installed these machines in the new vending machine sheds they have installed along the Green Line. Apparently the way it is supposed to work is before you board the train you tap your card on the validator and it will spit out a receipt that you are supposed to show. It will be interesting to see how this works out on January 2nd.
This is what the validator looks like. Fun Fun Fun......
For example look at Cambridge locations. (BTW will someone tell the T that Government Center Station, Suffolk Bookstore, Sullivan Square MBTA Station and Charles/Massachusetts General Hospital Station are NOT in Cambridge!!!) Notice no Store 24 or 7-11's on the list. I asked a clerk at the Harvard Sq 7-11 and she said "we not doing that, no way".
Prediction of what will happen on January 2nd, the first workday of the Charlie Card era. Riders are going to show their plastic card to the bus driver and then try to pay at the farebox only to find they have to pay a higher fare AND won't get their transfer. It won't be pretty folks I can guarantee it.
Closest stop: Harvard St & Kent St Times: 02:18 PM,
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The MBTA apologizes for the slow response-time users experienced on our new website. We are currently doing everything we can to improve performance, and the new site will be re-released soon. In order to give customers the content needed, we are offering our former site while we work out the problems. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
Who designed this website? Ansaldobreda???
Much more to come
I have traveled on enough public transit systems elsewhere to see that the T is pretty clueless in running a transit system. What I hope to do is point out things the T does wrong compared to other cities and provide links to document that.
Et tu Charlie?