From today's mailbag:
Hi Charlie on the M(B)TA,
Below is a copy of a letter I sent to the Globe today. Nothing new
in it, but I was really dumbfounded by the silly Starts & Stops
column this morning.
BTW, I'm a native SF-er who's lived in Boston for the past three
years. Glad you liked "my" city and its transit system. BART is far
better than commuter rail (hey -- it may be dirty, but at least the
lights work!), and I think is a good model for an commuter-friendly,
MUNI has gotten a lot better over the last 10 years; former mayor
Willie Brown set out to fix it, and I think he did a pretty good
job. Shows that maybe even the stodgy ol' MBTA could be given a
Date: March 11, 2007 9:32:05 AM PDT
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Disappointed in reporting
Dear Mr. Daniel,
I enjoy your column and the "transport beat" that you have at the
Globe. But I'm starting to wonder where the teeth are in your
articles. In today's Starts & Stops, you mention three people who
complained to the T, but whose complaints the T has no record of.
A new customer service system "may" be the issue for having, it
would seem, systematically tossed complaint letters in the trash?
Why let it go at that? Why not ask the next five or ten questions
that naturally follow on?
It seems that of all the local travesties, the T is handled with
the "kiddest" of gloves. Massport, the Turnpike Authority, and
others all get a good grilling, but the T is let off with their
spokespeople saying "oh, good point, we'll look into it.".
I think the Globe really needs to turn its eye to some of the
fundamental issues at the T. A few that pop right to mind:
* Why is customer service responsiveness so poor? Why does the T
feel so unaccountable to its customers and to the media?
* Why are projects so delayed? Kenmore Station? Charles Street?
* Why is service so spotty? The boarding delays with Charlie on
the Green line? Commuter rail cars with no heat or lights?
* Are funds being spent properly?
These are important local issues that deserve strong investigative
reporting. The T isn't the Kremlin; it's a taxpayer-funded,
service-providing, fully accountable agency. I would hope Globe
would treat it as such.