Saturday, January 13, 2007
Because there is no way to attach the document on the blog it has been scanned and converted to text.
OPERATIONS SPECIAL ORDER #06-180
TO: ALL GREEN LINE OPERATIONS AND OPERATIONS CONTROL CENTER (OCC) PERSONNEL
SUBJECT: NEW GREEN LINE FARE COLLECTION PROCEDURES
The new fare policy has established guidelines for the restructured MBTA fare policy. The new fare policy supports the MBTA's mission of providing high quality public transportation services, provides fare equity for the benefit of our customers, and maximizes fare revenue.
Green Line Surface Stops
With the implementation of the new fare system on January 1, 2007, customers will be required to pay the fare at all surface stops on the Green Line, both inbound (eastbound) and outbound (westbound). Green Line Motorpersons will open all right side doors of the streetcar at all surface stops with the exception of the off reservation stops on the E Line between Fenwood Road and Heath Street. (At the off reservation stops on the E Line Motorpersons will continue to open front door only for safety reasons.) It is anticipated that opening all doors will reduce station dwell time and ultimately will provide a faster trip for our customers.
CharlieCards (both time based and stored value), Senior/TAP, and Students are able to board Rear Doors with receipt from platform validator, verification from hand-held validator, or from the farebox.
CharlieTicket holders can board read doors if ticket is inspected visually.
Cash passengers must board at the front.
Special Order #06-180 Page 2
• Hand-held Validator
Officials and Ambassadors will be located on various surface stops. Some of them will have handheld validator that can be used to validate CharlieCards. The hand-held validators are small personal computers that will be held in the hand of designated Officials and/or Fare Ambassadors.
Passengers with CharileCards can approach the Official holding a validator to deduct fare or to verify proof of payment. The card has to be tapped to the validator. The hand-held validator will evaluate the card data, read, and provide information for the appropriate action to be executed by the smart card reader depending on the type of card:
> Valid time based pass: validate the pass by displaying the device number and validation
> Stored Value Card: deduct fare and display device number and validation date/time to the card
The hand-held validator will provide distinct audible feedback whether a card was successfully validated or validation was not possible. The display screen will show for valid cards the remaining value or validity depending on the type of card. An appropriate error message in case the card could not be validated, e.g. "Not enough value", "Expired", etc.
There is a button that can be set for the unit to be used in the "Validation Mode" or the "Inspection Mode" and back. In inspection mode it will only read the card information and display it to the operator without deducting value from the card. When card information is displayed an additional "Card History" button will be available to show the last 10 transactions on that card.
There is a glove type carrying case that will allow the Official to read cards through the reader located on the back of the operator's hand while the handheld will be placed in his palm This allows people to tap the card while the operator can observe the display at the same time. The glove is equipped with a shoulder strap. The glove suits both right- and left-handed persons. The glove will be made from a waterproof material.
Special Order #06-180 Page 3
• Platform Validator
There will be "Platform Validators" at some selected surface stops on the Green Line, including all D and E line stops (excluding off-reservation stops on the E Line). The customers will use the platform validators themselves. They will receive receipts signifying that they paid their fare by using a platform validator. It is easy to use. However, employees may have to explain the procedure to our customers. Use will deduct value from stored value CharlieCard or CharlieTickets and/or will validate time based passes on ChariieCards or CharlieTickets.
Designated Platform Officials and Ambassadors
During the introduction of the new fare policy, MBTA personnel will be stationed at many of the Green Line surface stops, and will assist with fare collection. The Green Line is assigning designated Officials and Ambassadors to surface stops during periods of high ridership. These individuals will be dedicated to fare related issues, such as informing our customers of new fare structure, instructing MBTA customers on how to use the fare equipment, and ensuring that customers pay the correct fare. With the introduction of new fare equipment, such as the platform validator and the hand-held validator, customers are able to board the rear doors. The Platform Officials and Ambassadors will assist in validating fare media and they will assist with rear door boarding.
Officials and Ambassadors will ensure that customers utilizing the rear doors during peak periods have paid the proper fare and/or have the appropriate pass or receipt before boarding. After peak periods, the Official or Ambassador may be required to board vehicles traveling both east and westbound and check that customers have a valid CharlieTicket and/or have proof that they have paid their fare. Officials and Ambassadors must ensure that consistent fare collection procedures are followed.
Green Line Motorpersons' Responsibilities
Green Line Motorpersons must familiarize themselves with the new fare structure and fare equipment. Every employee with the responsibility of collecting fares must be aware of fare media and be able to assist our customers in using new fare media and/or equipment. As stated in the above paragraph, at the inception of the new fare structure, personnel will be available on platforms to assist with fare collection. The fare media chart lists the various fare media, where customers can purchase fare media, how customers can obtain proof of payment, and how customers can board a streetcar.
• Will open all doors at all stops (except on the E line off reservation).
• Must issue a receipt to cash paying customers.
o At locations with a platform validator, or where there is an Official or Ambassador with a hand-held validator, the sole responsibility of the Motorperson will be to provide a receipt to cash paying customers and to oversee CharlieTicket and CharlieCard transactions at the farebox.
o At platforms without a validator, or an Official or Ambassador, Motorpersons will open all doors, however the Motorperson must ask all customers who board through the rear doors to come to the front and provide proof of payment or verify that they have paid.
• In order to expedite service, Motorpersons should encourage customers to board at the front and exit at the rear.
Special Order #06-180 Page 4
• During off peak times, Motorpersons are required to make the following announcements when customers board using the side or rear door;
"Attention please, customers who have just boarded the streetcar through the side or rear door must come to the front to pay their fare or to show proof that they have a valid CharlieTicket. Thank You."
While the safety of our customers, employees, and the public is paramount, operating personnel must not lose sight of the importance of running dependable and efficient service. If you are delayed due to fare issues, call the OCC Dispatcher and inform them so that they will be able to take action to address the situation.
at this point the memo simply prints the Fare Media and Passes guide
of note and this is something that has caused confusion on the Silver Line the past 2 weeks
The T subway system is comprised of the Blue, Orange, Green, Red, and even part of the Silver Line. Silver Line 'Waterfront" falls under our subway fare structure noted below, while Silver Line 'Washington St' falls under the bus fare structure.
Special Order #06-180 Page 5
All employees shall use good judgment in settling fare disputes. Keep in mind the dignity of the customer and the right of the Authority to collect a fare for its services.
If you have any questions regarding this directive, please contact your Supervisor's Office, the OCC Dispatcher, the Heavy Rail Training School or the Light Rail Training School
Anna M. Barry
Director of Subway Operations
John J. McLaughlin
Director, Systemwide Modernization
Automated Fare Collection
John P. Hogan, Jr.
Director of OCC & Training
for Subway & Bus Operations
Cheryl A. Hinton
Director of Bus Operations
December 28, 2006
Distribution List attached
The last 4 pages of the memo is a FAQ list which is available on the T's website
So loyal readers we now know that the T did have a plan in place, they just never bothered to explain it to us the customers. Now we know that validators are on the E Line as well but for some reason they have for now not installed them on key stops along the B and C Lines. My thanks to unnamed T employees who are trying to get the word out to the riders.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Here are the details.
- From June 21st to July 31st the line will be shut down between Riverside and Reservoir so the T can replace rail ties and make the stations more ADA compliant.
- On Aug. 4 and 5, the entire branch will be closed.
- From August 6th to September 2nd the line will be closed from Reservoir to Fenway. The T plans extra service on the C Line during this period.
This is going to be lovely on days and evenings when the Red Sox are at home. The T plans to run express buses to Fenway during this construction.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The university's 50-yearmaster plan, submitted to Boston planning officials today, also calls for putting 20 acres of Soldiers Field Road underground in order to keep traffic out of view and replace surface roadway with tree-lined promenades.
Harvard officials said the project is likely to cost several billion dollars. The first phases, including a major science building and a museum that would house collections now at Harvard's Fogg and other art museums, are expected to get underway before year's end.
If you look at Page 42 of the master plan Harvard is asking the T for more frequent service on bus routes66 and 86 (no mention of the 70) and possibly including Allston in the proposed "Urban Ring" transit corridor the T has dreamed about for years.
One thing is certain. Harvard WILL proceed with this project and the T has to address the transit challenges it will bring in very short order. For the transit dreamers this project opens any number of possibilities for T expansion. For example you could consider expanding the Blue Line to go through Lechmere or Kendall, continue on to Inman, through Harvard and under the Charles to Allston, Coolidge Corner, Brigham Circle to Dudley. Splitting the Red Line at Harvard is another possibility.
In any event the clock started to tick when Harvard announced their plans. The T needs to start working on this project now and with the clout of Harvard University behind it the long dreamed crosstown subway can become a reality.
A CSA (customer service agent) at Harvard was telling me that it is one of the biggest complaints they have been hearing from customers since the conversion. Many riders who are still unfamilar with the CharlieCard buy a CharlieTicket from the vending machines for $5, $10 and even $20 only to find out that they have to pay the higher fare. The CSA says her life would be a lot easier if the vending machines could convert value on a CharlieTicket to a CharlieCard. It would seem that the machines could be programmed to do this. The machines are set up to read a CharlieTicket and to add value to them which was necessary before the CharlieCard was introduced but doesn't seem to make sense now. Why can't the machines simply be programmed to take the amount on a CharlieTicket and transfer it to a CharlieCard? As of now the only way a rider can do that is to travel to the T's Charlie Service Center at Downtown Crossing and have it done there.
However the CSA pointed out something else that is happening. As CharlieTickets are used they drop below the $1.50(bus) or $2(subway) level and value is needed to be added. Riders being told about the CharlieCard are then adding new value to the smartcard and simply discarding CharlieTickets with small amounts of unused value on them. Those nickle, dimes and quarters add up fast and the T is pocketing the money.
Was this by design or simply an oversight? Only 10 Park Plaza knows the answer to that.
Can the fare vending machines be programmed to transfer value? I would think they can since they are able to read the value of a CharlieTicket. I see no reason why the machine can not void out the CharlieTicket and return it with no value on it if the machine doesn't have the ability to eat the ticket.
Customers being able to do this at any vending machine would eliminate a trip to the Service Center downtown which you think the T would want. Then again maybe they are thrilled with riders just discarding cards with small amounts on them.
Only way we will know for sure is to have people email the T or Scheidt & Bachman (the designers of the system)
to email the T email email@example.com
to email Scheidt & Bachman in Burlington email firstname.lastname@example.org
or contact the German office directly of Scheidt & Bachman directly
Authorities are also investigating another procedural misstep that may have contributed to the tragedy. Usually when employees are working on tracks they place a piece of metal on the tracks, known as a shunt, that trips a red light signal if a train is headed their way. This gives the train ample time to stop. It appears either the metal was never put in place or the red light signal malfunctioned, said the source.
Investigators are also focusing on a possible dispatcher error
The Herald reports:
Investigators of Tuesday’s fatal Woburn crash believe a railroad dispatcher put the commuter train on a fatal collision course after she heard a maintenance truck call “clear” and mistakenly thought the six man crew had left the restricted work area, said a source briefed on a preliminary federal report.
The “clear” the dispatcher heard was actually a second work crew aboard a high-rail truck, which a short time before had asked train dispatchers for permission to ride down the inbound tracks into the restricted zone where the crew was replacing rail ties, the source said.
Thinking the crew was off the tracks, the dispatcher realigned a switch three miles north of the job site - a switch that had safely moved four trains past the workers - and put the Boston bound train on a 60 mph crash course with the workers, killing two.
coverage from The Globe:
Investigators ruled out mechanical problems yesterday as the cause of the fatal commuter train crash in Woburn and are focusing on how human error put the Boston-bound train on a collision course with a work crew.
"We're focusing on several aspects of [the] human element, but there are several people that help operate a railroad," said Ted Turpin, lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. He would not say whether the actions of more than one person were being investigated.
The Globe also provides a graphic
Friends and families mourn the victims
A Chicago transit blog CTA TATTLER explodes.
A Chicago Alderman explodes as wellAlderman Joe Moore (49th Ward) today is calling for City Council hearings on the general CTA nonsense we all experience every day in our commutes to work, school and play.
Riders of the Chicago 'L are bracing for two years of major slowdowns on the CTA's busy NorthSide Red, Brown, and Purple Lines as a major reconstruction of the Brown line continues. The CTA will reduce current 4 track operation down to 3 tracks.
Three-track presentation (PDF format)
CTA Press Release
From Crain's Chicago Business
Under plans detailed for the first time on Wednesday, the CTA this spring
will, one by one, stop using the four tracks which serve the North Side L lines.
The stoppage will enable the CTA to build new tracks to accommodate widening of
L platforms at the Belmont and Fullerton stops and complete other work as part
of the modernization of the Brown Line.
But while the work goes on, the CTA will be without one of the four tracks on its main north/south trunk line. Since those tracks already are used to capacity during rush hour, something will have to go—trains that already are filled during rush hours.
“Overall travel time will significantly increase” for most Red, Brown and Purple Line commuters, at least initially and especially during evening rush periods, CTA officials
announced at a monthly board meeting Wednesday.
The Chicago Tribune reports
Though trains will continue to make all station stops, one northbound
track must be taken out of service while station platforms are rebuilt and
tracks are reconfigured to allow room for elevators.That means the evening rush,
when the bulk of commuters are heading north from downtown, will be most
affected. But the number of southbound trains must be reduced as well to
prevent a bottleneck on the other end.
"You should budget at least double the amount of time to get home and 50
percent additional time to get to work,'' said Michael Shiffer, CTA vice president of planning and development."Trains will be more crowded. It will be
difficult to board during rush hours," Shiffer said.
Evening rush-hour capacity for northbound riders will be reduced by 25
percent, the equivalent of more than 17,400 customers, he said. Thirty-one fewer
northbound Brown, Red and Purple Line trains will operate during this
What makes this a nightmare for Red LIne riders in Chicago is the northern part of that line is in horrific condition as it is and will not be addressed until the Brown Line renovation is complete.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Events of the past few days remind me of the lyrics of a song sung by Al Stewart, "Time Passages". Every city evolves and things that always were are suddenly gone.
In North Cambridge there are many who are completely lost with the possible closing of Verna's Donuts on Mass Ave a fixture since 1941 and a favorite haunt of Mr. Speaker "Tip" O' Neil. In the comments section we learn that Verna's may now be saved. In Union Square Somerville many are despondent over the impending closing of Tir na nOg a little Irish pub that has developed a loyal following over the past 10 years. The Nog's sudden closing comes as another shock to those who fled to Somerville after The Plough and Stars in Cambridge changed hands and even the Plough's former owner George worked a shift or two at The Nog.This story can be repeated in just about any Boston neighborhood these days and we collectively shrug and continue on. But then there are institutions located downtown that change or vanish and they seem to hit harder. It has been over ten years but does any native Bostonian call "Jordan Marsh" Macy's? A native still refers to I-95 as 128 even though the signs were changed decades ago. If there is anything Bostonians do best it is to resist change.
This week comes the news of 2 more parts of Boston that are vanishing forever.Tomorrow (January 11th) the Ritz-Carlton on Arlington Street changes its name to Taj Boston. One can only imagine the horror this is causing in the world of the Boston Brahmins. Michael Levinson in the Globe wrote a piece on the change in Wednesday's Globe. He tells the story of a man who was asked to leave the bar because he was wearing a golf shirt and a Red Sox hat who just happened to be the Mayor of Boston at the time, Ray Flynn. Chances are any other innkeeper in the city would have a legion of city inspectors’ swarm onto the premises if the Mayor was insulted but the "Ritz" had its own rules and that was understood by everybody.
"The Ritz people are the people who have yachts in Florida, who have Cadillacs, whose families have always stayed at Ritz hotels, who don't want crowds, who expect and demand the best," Charles Ritz , chairman of the ParisRitz, declared during a visit in 1965. "They don't care about all these modern gadgets. You could give them a hotel where you could push a button and go to the moon and they wouldn't want it."
I have been in the Ritz twice in my life and both times the staff eyed me as though I was "The creature from the dark lagoon". It was a totally different world from what you and I know and that is exactly what they wanted. Years ago when I drove a cab to get through school you would treat any passenger to and from the Ritz differently than other people. If a Ritz bellhop complained to Boston Hackney about a driver, their taxi career was finished. I can recall several famous people I drove there like Arthur Fiedler, Jean Stapelton (when she was Edith), Caroline Kennedy (when she was a student at Harvard), Senator George McGovern and a fascinating character who went by the name Reverend Ike. I also had a memorable faux pas when I picked up an older European gentleman at Logan going to the Ritz and asked him if this was his first visit to Boston. He exploded that he was the former conductor of the Boston Symphony (Erich Leinsdorf) and how could I possibly not know who he was? Now if he had been a reliever for the Kansas City Royals.
Now granted the Ritz is not closing but somehow I sense the name Taj Boston is not going to become part of the Boston lexicon. Even though there has been another Ritz in Boston now for 10 years across from the Common if you said Ritz to anybody in the city they assumed you meant the one on Arlington Street.
On Monday workers began the destruction of Jimmy's Harborside on Northern Avenue. Jimmy's closed one year ago with the hope it will reopen in the future but that remains to be seen. The Globe's Thomas Palmer wrote on Monday that "Seafood eatery Jimmy's braces for demolition" and speculates what the future holds for the restaurant.
Jimmy's was never as famous with the tourist crowd as Anthony's Pier 4 but was the seafood restaurant of choice for generations of Boston families (including mine). The bar which was fashioned from an old boat was the location of countless Boston political, banking and real estate deals. It was the place the power brokers hung out at. It certainly was nothing to look at from the outside considering it was an old warehouse on the fish pier but inside it was something special. Its large red neon sign was an icon on the waterfront. But Boston's seaport-waterfront district is undergoing drastic changes now with new hotels, bars, convention centers, museums, offices and restaurants springing up all over. It also should have been the new home of the Boston Patriots (a name Bob Kraft was going to restore) when he built his new stadium in South Boston. But Bob and Jonathan Kraft made a fatal mistake when planning the stadium as they decided they didn't have to deal with Jimmy Kelly. The stadium is in Foxboro today and the Red Sox probably are still at Fenway because of what happened with the Patriots plan.
Jimmy Kelly passed away yesterday at the age of 66. He was a product of the gritty streets of South Boston and first became known as a fierce opponent to forced busing and then as a long time city councilor from South Boston. Kelly was beloved in South Boston and hated elsewhere for his views. I suspect Jimmy never found Archie Bunker to be funny as he probably agreed with him on most issues. Southie did not like outsiders and it had nothing to do with the color of your skin. You could be Irish-Catholic from Cambridge or Somerville and when you stepped off the Red line in Broadway you were a million miles from home. One of the biggest fights the City of Montreal ever witnessed was between 2 groups of Bruins fans from Southie and Charlestown at a beer hall known as The Old Munich. More importantly people in Southie would not tolerate people from outside the community telling them what to do.
Jimmy would be amused by the coverage of him in both daily papers. Howie Carr in the Herald wrote the column they will be reading in Southie and Eileen McNamara in the Globe writes the column they will be reading in Hingham and Lexington. Both columns represent who and what James Kelly was. The city now plans to rename the Broadway Bridge linking the South End with South Boston in his honor. There is a delicious irony there.
Finally on the day Jimmy Kelly died another figure from the busing crisis in South Boston also passed away. William J. Reid died yesterday at the age of 94 outside of Chicago. He was the headmaster of South Boston High School when busing began.
Well, I'm not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on
Are the things that don't last
Well, it's just now
And then my line gets cast into these
There's something back here that you left behind
Oh, time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
Video from WBZ-TV CBS4
Service on the Lowell line is now back to normal operation
Lowell (view route)
The MBTA is focusing on human error in the deadly crash yesterday on the Lowell Commuter Rail line in Woburn. The Herald is reporting the switch in question was THREE miles north of the accident scene. The question I have this morning is was there no way to alert MBCR officials that the train was on the wrong track for those three miles??? I have to believe there has to be another signal on the track given the distance.
from The Herald:
A mistake at a railroad dispatch center sent a speeding train loaded with passengers on a collision course with six unsuspecting track workers in Woburn yesterday, killing two before they had time to escape the barreling locomotive, officials said.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority police are investigating why dispatchers in Somerville allowed the Boston-bound commuter train to remain on a set of tracks where a manned maintenance truck had been stationed since just after rush hour, officials said.
The Herald gives this timeline of the accident
Trains heading to Boston are supposed to see a lighted “restricted” signal similar to a stop light, overseen by a radio dispatcher in Somerville. The dispatcher then diverts the train around the work crew on the inbound track and onto the parallel, unoccupied outbound track.
Four Boston bound trains successfully made the switch yesterday. At some point after the fourth train, however, the restriction was removed, giving the engineer of the fifth train the impression it was safe to proceed.
The Boston-bound train was coming from Lowell at 50 mph when it hit the six-person crew at about 1:35 p.m. just south near Montvale Avenue in Woburn.
The work crew had been granted right-of-way on the southbound tracks after rush hour, about 9:15 a.m., and was expected to remain there until 3 p.m.
The Globe is reporting:
BADTRANSIT.COM is asking a lot of hard questions this morning.
“Where was the flagman?”, one BadTransit who tipped us off to this disaster asks. Last we heard, MBCR had cut back severely on safety for work crews. One former AMTRAK maintenance leader told BadTransit (shortly after MBCR received their 5 year $1.2 Billion contract) that safety training was cut back and flagmen were no longer being dedicated to the task, but combining their safety duty with other work.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
State lawmakers led by State Sen. Jarrett Barrios (D-Cambridge), State Reps. Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge) and Carl M. Sciortino Jr (D-Medford-Somerville) will introduce legislation this week to try and restructure the MBTA's massive debt which is now estimated to be $8 billion dollars.
Barrios told the Herald “The T’s finances are in a downward spiral. Each year their debt increases and their ability to improve service declines. It will only get better if the Legislature addresses the problem.”
T General Manager Daniel Grabauskas says " “It’s no secret that the T has a structural financial problem that’s driven primarily by debt,” he said. “It’s a serious impediment to our ability to spend what we need . . . to maintain the system.”
Eric Bourassa of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group tells the Globe "The T has serious financial problems that go way beyond fixing through efficiencies and fare increases, The T's huge debt challenges the long-term viability of the authority and needs to be seriously addressed by the Legislature."
Now how the T got into this fiscal mess goes back to 1999 when the legislature tried to put the brakes on out of control spending at the T. The T before the new funding law was passed could run up a huge deficit and the Commonwealth would make up the shortfall. That prompted the current funding law which at the time most thought was a good idea except for some towns that suddenly had to pay more for T services. Pioneer Institute a Boston area "think tank" published it's views on forward funding in 2002. Keep in mind cities like Lowell and Brockton broke away from the MBTA years ago and became part of local transit authorities to curb costs. Those 2 cities were served by the former Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway which the T absorbed in 1964. The only present MBTA bus garages in the former Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway territory, are in Lynn and in Quincy.
The Commonwealth also funds transit authorities in Worcester, Springfield, New Bedford-Fall River, Attleboro-Taunton, Cape Cod, Greenfield, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Fitchburg, Pittsfield, Cape Ann and Lawrence-Haverhill. These RTA's are all corporate and political subdivisions of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Transportation.
In 1973, the Massachusetts State Legislature produced Chapter 161B of the Massachusetts General Laws to prevent the creation of centrally controlled agencies similar to the MBTA. In doing so, Chapter 161B recognized the individual needs of cities and towns within the Commonwealth and acknowledged the importance of local control over transportation services. Chapter 161B safeguards the empowerment of cities and towns through a series of checks and balances that clearly illustrate the powers and duties of RTAs, including requirements relating to financing, contracting, and the issuance of bonds. Within the framework of Chapter 161B, the role given to the state (EOT and EOAF) maintains the balance of state and local control in the delivery of public transit services According to the statute, regional transit authorities cannot operate service directly, but instead must contract with private operators for the provision of service.
In other words the legislature knew that the MBTA was a bottomless pit and made sure that the same mistakes were not made in the rest of the state and in effect was saying Boston and Boston alone should pay for Boston buses. Of course it didn't work out that way and taxpayers statewide help pay for the T through the sales tax contributions. Of course you might be asking yourself why the legislature didn't order the MBTA to contract with private operators to help contain costs. ( as it does with the Commuter Rail for example ) It would have been political suicide if they tried as the Boston Carmen's Union would never allow that to happen. The BCU represents over 6,000 T employees and is a major political force on Beacon Hill. Old time legislators remember very well the fallout that occurred when the MBTA was shutdown by the Commonwealth in December of 1980 because the T ran out of money. Downtown merchants suffered major losses during the holiday shopping season and took their wrath to Beacon Hill.
So as you can see this is nothing new and the T's problems today date back decades as politicians looked for quick fixes and never tackled the real problems. Will Beacon Hill come to the rescue when this bill is submitted? Perhaps but there is still the mindset in the rest of the state that Boston should pay for Boston buses
Monday, January 08, 2007
Your column of January 7, 2007 concerning the first week under the new smartcard system certainly raised eyebrows at several internet sites in Boston.
Universalhub.com headlined it as Globe to people with CharlieCard complaints: You're just stupid and badtransit.com went further saying CharlieCard == disaster. Tales of woe are all over the Boston boards and I had my own story of a CharlieCard dying yet T officials say it was the first they had heard of it. You told readers about the new Customer Service Center at Downtown Crossing and added "Lines have been long" so something isn't quite right.
Things certainly got better after a few days. The Customer Service Agents at the stations had more experience in dealing with snafus, more riders seem to be using the CharlieCard on buses to get the transfer and overall people are adjusting.
I do have a problem with this line in your column however
We again took the matter to the T, where officials said it was the first they'd heard of it (and they don't tend to lie when we ask).
I honestly think the problem with T officials is not lying but in many cases THEY DON'T KNOW what is going on in the system. I'll give you a small example.
There is probably nobody at the Globe with more institutional knowledge about Boston than Tom Long who recently left the paper after a buyout but still contributes from time to time. He is writing the Starts and Stops in the Northwest editions of the Globe. A few weeks ago a reader wrote in about the Hynes/ICA station and if the name would be changed now that the ICA had moved to the waterfront. Tom got this answer from the T PR department.
No name change for Hynes/ICA the T says
A rider on the MBTA's Green Line, John P. McAuliffe, e-mailed a question about the Institute of Contemporary Art's recent shift across Boston: "So now that the ICA has moved to the waterfront, will they call the Hynes/ICA a different name? This being Boston, I doubt they will, but won't out-of-town tourists be confused as heck about two different ICAs?" McAuliffe is also looking for an update on the rehabilitation of the Green Line's Kenmore Station.As far as his ICA question, it seems out-of-towners are on their own. "The name is remaining the same," said MBTA spokeswoman Lydia Rivera.
Now I am sure Ms. Riveria made a phone call to the proper official and was given that answer but if she left her office at Park Plaza and took the Green Line over to Hynes she would have found out that somebody DID CHANGE THE NAME already. The trains have all been reprogrammed to simply say Hynes Convention Center. Somebody gave that order as nothing happens at the T without somebody giving the OK. The name change is a small thing but it demonstrates the culture at the T that is in effect nobody knows what somebody else is doing.
Mac you are the eyes and ears of every rider on the T. The only way you will get a handle on what is going on with the system day by day is to ride the lines and observe. I am not sure if the T allows employees to talk to the media but if permission is granted then talk to the Customer Service Agents, the drivers and other T employees trying to keep the system running as best they can.
The riders and taxpayers need explanations on how the T could ever allow a vendor to be three years behind delivering subway cars. We need to know why the T keeps entering into contracts with bus companies that vanish after the T has taken delivery on new buses ( that has happened twice now with TMC and NeoplanUSA) We need to know why after 4 years you still can't get the promised next bus alerts on the Silver Line. The list of questions that need answers is almost endless.
The T has come a long way from the dark days of 1980 when the system was shutdown because it was broke. Thankfully accidents on the lines are few and far between and we are seeing upgrades to stations and new equipment promised. The T will never be state of the art and will always be forced to live with the limitations created by tunnels downtown that are 100 years old and buses that still have to navigate New England cowpaths.
Yes we the riders are going through a learning curve with Charlie and so is the T. What we need most is for the largest newspaper in the city to watch this project evolve and help both the riders and T officials at Park Plaza. I honestly believe if they knew what some of the issues were they would do something but they honestly don't know. That has to change and you can be a big part of it.
A BOSTON SOJOURN By your Editor
It is encouraging to find a municipally operated system, which is not pro-bus. Such is MTA, Boston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority. In addition to its three genuine rapid transit routes, one of which is now being extended on surface right-of-way to Orient Heights, MTA at presents operates 26 electric railway routes with trolley cars. A third of these use the trolley subway in downtown Boston and are assured a permanent lease on life. Another third will probably stay rail for some time also, some using PCC cars even at present. A find third including all the Maverick-Revere Beach lines and some Southside lines will go trolley coach in the fairly near future.
Boston at present uses three major car types on its trolley lines. There are a large number of PCCs, including the 50 picture window PCCs received this spring. Oldest PCC group was purchased in 1941. The PCCs, as on LATL, are numbered up from 3000.
The third type of equipment yet running in Boston has all but been retired: the MU center-entrance trains, which the PCCs have almost replaced in the subway. At the time of our Boston sojourn, the last week in July, no trains were running on regular runs, but would fill in occasionally when too many PCCs were being shopped. The only center-entrance train actually seen in service was on the Subway-Arborway line 39, although this type of equipment was in evidence in several car yards about the city. They are numbered in the 6000s and of course were the backbone of Boston EL for many, many years before the PCCs.
A fourth type, the so-called Type Four cars, which are deck roof, older city cars numbered in the low 5000s, were seen in one or two yards, but are not (so far as we were able to discern) any longer in service at all, and will soon be scrapped.
South Boston has not much equipment variety left: only the PCCs and type Fives run commonly over the system. Old cars still run in the trolley subway, although they are in the vast minority.
The most unusual feature of Boston’s trolley system, of course, is the extensive use made of the trolley subway. This permits all surface cars to run in the downtown district free from interference of surface traffic. Actual speeds made in the Trolley subway compare rather unfavorably with those in Los Angeles’, but the subway is undeniably far faster than surface routes could ever be. Speed underground is hampered by the close headways that are maintained: three-car PCC trains less than thirty seconds apart in rush hours. Fortunately, the block signal system is far more adequate than is the case in Los Angeles’ subway, but even so, during base and rush hours there is not much opportunity for the PCCs to show any speed.
Aside from the subway, the most notable Boston characteristic is the great number of prepayment stations, which are combination subway or elevated stations and surface car and bus line terminals. At these stations, which are entirely within turnstiles, a great deal of transferring and reverse-direction riding can be accomplished on a single fare. Certain of the stations are large-scale streetcar terminals in their own right, such as Arborway-Forest Hills, at the south end of an elevated line, from which seven surface car lines depart (one of which uses the trolley subway). Another large rail terminal is Maverick, entirely underground, from which several car lines depart on the same level as the adjacent tracks of the subway trains with which they connect. Present fare over the entire MTA system is 10 cents for local surface rides of any length without transfer, 15 cents for surface rides with transfer, and 15 cents for all rapid transit-surface rides, with or without transfer. The 15 cents rapid transit fare applies also in the trolley subways, but so far as we could tell, the operator of an inbound trolley on the street before entering a subway portal has no way of checking who has paid 10 cents for a local ride and who has paid 15 cents.
In the outlaying areas, there is more than a mere smattering of private right of way on the various lines. Most of this is center or side-of-the-street, there being little trackage completely away from streets.
1-ASHMONT-HARVARD TUNNEL: This is a true rapid transit route, nearly all subway, with cars similar to the IRT cars in New York City. It runs from Harvard Square in Cambridge, to the west of Boston, into the downtown area, then south partly thru open cut and surface private right of way, partly still in subway, to Ashmont on the southern side of the city.
2-FOREST HILLS-EVERETT ELEVATED: This is entirely elevated except for a section of subway in the heart of downtown Boston. It is probably the nicest of the true rapid transit routes. Stations are much farther apart than on New York EL’s, allowing greater speed, especially on the downhill outbound run to Forest Hills in the southern side of the city.
3-BOWDOIN-MAVERICK TUNNEL: This line is entirely subway at present, and runs from Bowdoin in downtown Boston beneath the Charles River to Maverick, where at present it ends. It is to be extended via a surface private right of way using catenary rather than third-rail. All rail and wire for this extension are in place to the new terminal at Orient Heights, and the cars for it are sitting at the latter point.
7-SOUTH STATION-CITY POINT: A surface trolley line entirely on city streets. South Station, which is on the edge of downtown Boston, is the closest point to the center of the city to which trolleys operate on streets. This line runs near the waterfront for a good distance, over many bridges. It is entirely Type Five, as there is a stub end in the middle of the street at South Station.
9-SUBWAY-CITY POINT: This is a PCC line which runs underground to a portal south of the downtown area, then turns east along rather uninteresting streets and joins lines 7 and 10 to the end of the rather dilapidated City Point section of the city.
10-DUDLEY-CITY POINT: This is a PCC line beginning under the Forest Hills EL and running north, then east to join the 9 and continue to City Point. Its most unusual feature is the Arlington Station where it loops twice around the same trackage each trip to enter the station.
28-ASHMONT-MATTAPAN “HIGH SPEED” LINE: Without doubt this is the finest MTA route. It is all on private right of way, entirely away from streets, and plunges thru beautiful wooded areas, running for some distance beside the banks of a river.
Type Five equipment used.
29-MATTAPAN-EGLESTON: A surprisingly nice line because of a side of the road private right of way along the edge of a park in a hilly section, which is very beautiful. Much bracket arm over pavement operation also. Evidently quite safe for the future as the rails are being renewed. Type Five.
30-ARBORWAY-MATTAPAN: A rather dull PCC line entirely on city streets.
32-ARBORWAY-CLEARY SQUARE: Another not too interesting street-running line to the extreme south of the city. Uses Type Five.
33-ARBORWAY-ROSLINDALE: An odd-shaped line taking two-sides of a very narrow-angled triangle of trackage, with little independent running. Unimportant. Uses Type Five.
34-ARBORWAY-DEDHAM: This rather long south side line uses Type Fives and enjoys a stretch of center-of-the-highway private right of way on its outer end; eastern Massachusetts cars used to run further out from it.
36-ARBORWAY-CHARLES RIVER: A nice, winding line, but entirely on streets. Trolley coach overhead is 100% in place, and the line will go TC in about two months. At present it is served by the Type Fives during daylight hours, and by PCCs evenings.
39-SUBWAY-ARBORWAY: A long, rather dull route with MU PCCs and still an occasional center-entrance train; totally on built-up, congested streets after it leaves the subway. Has Type Fives also.
40-EGLESTON-ARBORWAY: A short line on tracks entirely underneath the Forest Hills EL. An unimportantline stripped of all Sunday service in a recent economy move. After all, the EL is overhead.
43-SUBWAY-EGLESTON: PCCs and a few Type Fives on this line, which winds along congested city streets much like the Subway-Arborway line, only shorter.
47-MASSACHUSETTS STATION-DUDLY: This is obviously a remnant of a whole group of other lines that were abandoned. It runs rail Monday through Friday from 5.20 to 9.40am, and 3.13 to 6.37pm. Other hours and on weekends it is bus. It has under-the el running and very tedious route thru city streets to a high-roofed terminal at Mass Station on the trolley subway. Probably the most boring rail line on MTA.
61-SUBWAY-CLEVELAND CIRCLE: This is one of the heaviest lines on the system, and uses both new and older PCCs in 2 and 3 car trains. Not an inch of this line is on streets (except, of course, for grade crossings), as it enjoys a tree-shaded center-of the-street private right of way along its entire course after it leaves the subway. Rush hour headway is terrific.
62-SUBWAY-BOSTON COLLEGE: Twin of the Cleveland Circle route, with same equipment and also much private right of way beside and within streets. A very important and scenic line not quite as nice as the 61.
69-SUBWAY-WATERTOWN: A long line, on streets after leaving the subway, from which it heads due west to the city of Watertown, Mass. There is a turn back loop at Braves Field. An all PCC operation.
71-HARVARD-WATERTOWN: Entirely in the outlying areas of Cambridge and Watertown. Mostly PCC, with a few Type Fives. Track is very smooth, making the PCC ride unusually pleasant.
73-HARVARD-WAVERLEY: Runs with 71 for a ways west of Harvard, then runs west on broad, hilly streets to Waverley, Mass. Type Fives, as it is stub-end in Waveley. A pleasant but unspectacular route.
79-HARVARD-ARLINGTON HEIGHTS: A long line running to the northwest of Harvard. A mixture of PCCs and older cars. It is actually thru-routed with 71, as cars run all the way thru from Watertown to Arlington Heights, but passengers must get off at Harvard, pay another fare, and walk thru a gate to re-board. Turn backs run to two points, one of which is stub-end and will not take PCCs.
100-SULLIVAN SQUARE-ELM STREET: This is entirely removed from all other MTA rail lines, but has its own car house and connects with other MTA lines via trackage not in regular use. It is the second-nicest line on the MTA, being almost all of center-of-the-street private right of way, and using the fast “High speed” Fives, which are capable of 40 mph and have excellent acceleration. “Too fast for the track on this line,” one operator commented. Yet rail has been improved, and prospects for the rail service on this highly scenic line seem good. It was even more scenic until 1946, when it ran thru the woods to Spot Pond and via Eastern Mass St. Ry. (whose buses still carry the railway name, incidentally) to Stoneham. It should not have been cut back to Elm St., but the remaining portion is still heavily patronized and a must for photography.
114-MAVERICK-MERIDIAN ST.: All these lines that use Maverick are to go trolley coach probably within a year. Much TC overhead is in place already. The Meridian St. line is a remnant of an alternate route to Chelsea which was abandoned when a bridge was closed. Now it ends on a crossover laid at the beginning of the bridge. It is entirely on slow, uninviting streets.
116-MAVERICK - REVERE BEACH VIA REVERE: This line goes to Chelsea, with many turn back cars to “Chelsea via Central” only. It is the farthest north of any New England trolley passenger route, and is entirely on streets.
117-MAVERICK - REVERE BEACH VIA BEACH: An alternate route to Revere, which separates from the Rev-via Rev line, beyond Chelsea and cuts across to reach Rev much more quickly (about the same as the PSL, POK situation between LA and Pasadena). All on streets, but very nice.
118-MAVERICK-REVERE BEACH VIA ORIENT HEIGHTS:
A third and entirely different route between these two terminals, and the shortest of them all, (continuing the analogy, it would resemble the Pasadena via Garvanza route). It parallels the rapid transit extension, and enjoys a stretch of complete private right of way in a very country-ish setting, with a trestle across a creek or pond in its middle. It reminded Steve and I , as we walked it, of the Balboa Park Line in San Diego, more strongly than anything else either of us has seen, yet it is also very, very different, as there are no cliffs or drop-offs. Turn backs run to Gladstone loop (called line 115). There is also a private right of way branch to a racetrack a short distance, which runs Sundays only.
121-MAVERICK - LEXINGTON ST.: The only single-track line on MTA, running with Meridian St. until a few blocks before the end of that route, and then turning onto a run-down street, changing to the single pair of rails, and continuing up and down hill for perhaps a mile, ending in a car house. Very unimportant, requiring only one car for base service.
All Maverick lines, of course, use the Types Fives exclusively. Some of these cars still say “Boston Elevated Railway” on their sides. The Maverick lines were part of Eastern Massachusetts Street Ry. until 1936.
And there you have it--a fine system, with some track amputations still in store for it, but with an excellent future for the rail lines that will still remain.
I read somewhere that T officials claim the new gates will all but eliminate fare evasion. I have also read that since the initial installation of most of the gates fare evasion went down. I am a little bit skeptical of both claims. I have been riding the T for more than 10 years and to the best of my recollection saw maybe two people actually jump a turnstile in that time. Since the installation of the new system I have actually been part of 4 separate instances of fare evasion, and my wife has had it happen to her twice. Its pretty simple really, the offender just follows you real closely through the gate. The gates will try and closes and then immediately reopen when the hit the person behind you. The 4 times it happened to me were at South Station, where I haven't seen any CSR's with any regularity. The last time it happened to me it was a guy in a suit! People just don't want to go through the 17 step process to buy a ticket at a vending machine after waiting for 5 minutes in line at rush hour. Have you seen or heard of more instances like this, or is what I have seen an aberration?
The one location I have seen this happening regularly is Forest Hills in the afternoon when school gets out. The kids walk through the gates almost at will. The T changed the order from turnstyles to gates and I'm not convinced it was a good idea. New York and Chicago decided to keep turnstyles when they converted to Automatic Fare Collection 10 years ago. I think Mike has raised a valid point.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
The mailbox at email@example.com brought this comment
I hadn't heard about the demise of the bring a guest on sunday program, until this morning, when I tried to bring a guest
a poster at bostonist.com isn't happy about it
CharlieCard woes and wobbles rained down on us all week from readers after CharlieCards and the new fare increase combined to form a huge storm of frustration.
Cards did not work, monthly passes were not received, and, if they were, they were the wrong kind. As a result, even though the complaints were in the low double digits via firstname.lastname@example.org, riders quickly came to the conclusion that the entire automated fare collection system was a big disaster and that this column was the mouthpiece for a transit organization of swindlers and thieves.
Applesauce. Though T officials couldn't explain some of the problems, others appeared to be a part of the steep CharlieCard learning curve.
One thing I am noticing is that by the end of the week about 75% of bus passengers now have the CharlieCard, 15% are using CharlieTickets and the rest are using cash. routes I have used are the 66,69 and 96 The word has spread fast that if you want the $1.25 bus fare and transfers you need the CharlieCard.
But this statement from the T floors me
Ironically enough, Joe Kelley, the head of the automated fare conversion for the T, said the T received fewer complaints last week than any other week he's worked on the project. With service updates generated every two hours, he also said there were no reported service problems at fare boxes.
In any event we have survived week 1 and let us see how the next week goes.