Friday, March 02, 2007

T Tales: Friday woes reported all over the system

We received several reports at that Friday morning didn't go very well for some commuters.

Adam reports of a major snafu at Natick
Several months ago, I wrote in to MBCR customer service expressing my concern for the horrendous track and platform conditions at Natick Station (inbound track 2). I was given some lip service about being aware of these issues but despite the fact that the tracks have not stopped flooding for FOUR months, of course nothing was done about it.

Today, March 2, the steady rain caused high water and the track became impassible. Somehow, no one notified the engineer of train P514 who stopped the train just short of the station, reversed direction, and showed up on the opposite track 60 minutes later (having had to back up all the way to Framingham to switch tracks!).

To make matters worse, none of the passengers waiting at Natick or other inbound stations had any information about the delay, as the SmartTraveler line and LED boards did not report any delays to the line, and the MBTA customer support representative I spoke with told me there were "no problems" on the line.

How can any of this be considered acceptable? All of these delays COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED while simple communication, which is frequently promised but NEVER delivered, failed miserably.
Is it any wonder that the Framingham/Worcester line has suffered the largest decline in ridership? This sounds like another classic CSX horror story as they dispatch the commuter rail trains on that line from Albany, NY.

Sue from Newton writes about the D Line Friday morning
It was (as forecast) raining hard and very windy in
Greater Boston, pouring rain onto slush, so I wasn’t
surprised when I came down to the Newton Centre T this
morning to find a crew of T representatives zooming
about. Some of them with road cones. Uh-oh.

According to one rep there were wires down on the
line. They were running trains inbound and shuttle
buses out to Riverside.

The train went inbound OK, except that instead of
switching tracks before the Reservoir platform, for
some reason the train passed the platform; the driver
shut the train down and switched to the other end;
drove the train back to the right past the platform;
changed ends again; and drove out to Government
Center. Weird, inefficient and unexplained, but no
problem for the passengers other than a few minutes’

A friend of mine who also lives on the D / Riverside
line did not have my luck. When he came to the
station the T was not only running shuttle buses both
ways, but making people wait down Langley Road, in the
driving cold rain far from the station and shelter,
for the buses. (Obviously this was a different crew
from the one a couple weeks ago that offered to let
passengers get on the buses to get out of the weather.
What, did they get in trouble for accommodating
passenger comfort? Or did the bus drivers just not
feel like going through the turn-around on Union
Street in front of the station?) There was a long
wait for the buses and also a long wait for a train at
Reservoir, where many, many people were waiting. The
train had to be packed like a sardine can when it
finally arrived.

They never seem to anticipate these problems.

Incidents like this will become especially fun when
they start running the new Breda cars (which seat
about half as many people and have an upper and lower
level connected by steps -- increasing the chances
people can fall) on the Riverside line.
I also heard from John, Kathie and Bill with similar stories.

Zachary reports the trackless trolleys on Mt Auburn St were having a bad day as well
Hiya, Charlie,

This morning at about 9:15, the 71 and 73 buses, which run from Harvard Square to Watertown Square and Waverly Square, respectively, stopped running. At first we all thought it was our own individual bus. Then I noticed another bus about 100 yards ahead, had also stopped. The driver said that they had lost power to the overhead trolley lines. She said there was no word on whether a 'relief' bus would come to pick up stranded passengers, saying, "they wouldn't tell me that, anyway."

I was able to call my boss, who came to pick me up. I was going outbound, which means you pay as you disembark, but either the power to the Charlie boxes was out, or the driver didn't care, because everyone who left did so without paying. As my boss and I drove down Mt. Auburn St, we saw dozens of buses that were simply sitting there with nowhere to go, the passengers either stubbornly remaining on board or running to the nearby Shaw's. This was about 20 minutes after the buses stopped initially.

There never was a travel advisory on the T website. Nothing indicating that any delay had occurred. Of course, things may have got rolling soon afterwards, but those buses may still be out there - I'm trying to figure it out before I sit out in the rain for a bus that won't come! Tried calling the MBTA switchboard, but apparently Friday afternoon is their "heavy call volume" time - is that some sort of joke?

Anyway, another T Tale. Thanks for your great blog!
It does appear that the T doesn't have a fluid system in place to get delay information from the High Street operations center posted onto the web. We have seen the same delays in updating info ( when they even bother ) on the Commuter Rail. The T promises that soon we will have SMS updates and real time tracking of buses on the website. I'm not holding my breath given the failure the T has had on the Silver Line doing so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I am very fond of the trackless trolleys and the schedule/reliability of the 71/73 in general, but they do have a lot of trouble with icy weather. The new trolleys seem better able to hold on to the wires above, but during the ice storm on Valentine's Day the trolleys could only go about 5-10 miles per hour and the contacts on the wires were sparking non-stop. Since I live right on Mount Auburn Street, I spent the evening watching what looked like sparklers go by my windows.