Between 1983 and 1987, Levy served with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, and was involved with safety regulation of the MBTA. When asked about the current state of the MBTA compared to years past he told us that the T has suffered a “slow, gradual deterioration”. “It hasn’t been since Dukakis that we had a governor that cared about the T. He put into place really good managers and who believed in making the investments to keep it running well. Since then we’ve had a series of administrations that didn’t care.”.
That said Levy’s positivism showed through. “I don’t blame the employees. They’re put in an awful situation and truly do the best they can. It has to be difficult for them, especially once people get riled up, to maintain good humor and a sense of what’s important.”
Most T riders when they have a bad commute can only complain to friends, co-workers, blog about it or perhaps take the time to e-mail the T. Very few of us can call the upper levels at 10 Park Plaza and actually talk to top management.
Our friends at universalhub.com alerted me to a comment left this morning by Paul Levy. Mr. Levy is the President and Chief Executive Officer, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The BI is one of the T's largest corporate partners in the sale of T passes to employees. He is not happy this morning.
Express to Fenway
Submitted by Paul Levy on Mon, 02/12/2007 - 8:17am.
This morning: A packed carload of people on the Green Line because service has been slow out on the Riverside line ... and more get on at Reservoir. The doors close, and the LCD sign all of sudden says, "Express to Fenway." Half the car is filled with people going to Longwood. I make my way up from the rear and ask the driver, nicely, "Would you mind stopping at Longwood? We weren't told this was express to Fenway till after the doors closed."
"I can't do that."
"But, you have 100 people who want to go to Longwood who didn't know that this was express to Fenway till after the doors closed at Reservoir."
"I am not allowed to do that."
"Would you please call your dispatcher and ask permission?"
We sit at Brookline Hills for five minutes -- backing up still more cars behind us -- while the driver waits for Central to respond. He does, and she is told to open her doors to let people out. Next announcement,
"Get out of the train if you don't want to go to Fenway, and take the next train."
Even before people get off the train, the platform outside is packed. At least two trainloads of people are waiting.
I decide to stay on and go to Fenway and walk back to Longwood. After all, who knows I would have been stranded in Brookline?
I really like Dan Grabauskas, and I know he is trying hard to improve the T. But can I offer a suggestion? Take down those really big pictures of yourself at the T stations -- you know, the ones of you standing in front of the American flag -- because I fear for the personal abuse you will take if people get to know what you look like and recognize you on the street.
Well Paul I wouldn't worry about that as Dan Grabauskas doesn't take the T into work like you and I do.
That's the commuter whom the rail system relies on - the one who recognizes its value and embraces it as a part of his or her life. But winning over the car commuter has always been the challenge. Even Grabauskas, the MBTA's general manager who lives in Ipswich, a town served by commuter rail, usually drives to work. "Where I live in town is right off the highway," he says, "and my schedule is erratic enough that it tends not to be convenient for me."The Green Line has been a disaster since the first of the year. 70% of the complaints to this blog come from D and B line passengers. It has to be addressed now. It really is time for the T to go out and hire a transit professional to be General Manager and not a political hack.
Luckily for the rest of us a passenger like Paul Levy can make the phone calls we can't.