Saturday, February 10, 2007

T in the media - February 10th edition

scanning the wires to see what is being reported about the T in the past few days

Police on alert as graffiti artists gather in city
Boston Globe - They were five men with 39 cans of spray paint, speeding away from the Braintree MBTA Station early yesterday, police said

Network boss quits, apologizes for stunt
Boston Globe - Turner Broadcasting apologized for the campaign last week and announced it would pay $2 million in restitution to the MBTA and local governments

Is Framingham getting its fair share of the dollars?
Framingham TAB - Feb 9, 2007... a handful of MetroWest towns recently dumped some T of their own — the MBTA, that is — in favor of a regional transportation authority.

New Charlie Cards has less people skipping out on fares
WHDH-TV- Feb 9, 2007 -- MBTA officials credit the new Charlie Cards with cutting down on the number of people skipping out on paying fares. ...

'T' Riders Complain About Charlie Cards
Boston - Feb 9, 2007 There are troubles with the MBTA's Charlie Cards and they've only been out for a month. The cards promise discounted rates on the "T," but some ...

Waban residents lobby to halt meters in square
Daily News Tribune, MA - Feb 8, 2007 Solomon said two weeks ago that a major reason for the meters is to ensure consistent parking turnover for the square's businesses by preventing MBTA ...

Selectmen to discuss MBTA request Monday
Abington Mariner, MA - Feb 8, 2007 At their meeting on Monday night, Abington Selectmen are expected to discuss a proposal from the MBTA that requests the addition of a later train

OUR VIEW: The last spike
The Patriot Ledger, MA - Feb 8, 2007 Timothy Murray, and MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas had the honors of using a long-handed maul to drive three ceremonial spikes into the wooden ties. ...

Trial To Start For Men Accused Of Shooting Pregnant Woman On 'T'
Boston, MA - Feb 8, 2007... both charged with first-degree murder and related charges for allegedly killing an infant and wounding his mother on an Orange Line MBTA car in February ...

OUR VIEW: Too many hands?
The Patriot Ledger, MA - Feb 7, 2007 A 75-year-old MBTA electrical engineer says she was assigned just five hours of work a month. She filed an age discrimination complaint, which was rejected ...

Middleboro selectmen approve later train service
Brockton Enterprise, MA - Feb 6, 2007 Selectmen took the vote following a public hearing, at the request of Daniel A. Grabauskas, General Manager of the MBTA, who is seeking community input on ...

The destination of this train is . . .TECHNOLOGY
Daily Free Press (subscription), MA - Feb 6, 2007 When Boston's MBTA launched the CharlieCard in December 2006, thousands of area residents were introduced to "touchless" smartcard technology, which allows ...

bloggers on the T ( February 10th edition )

The T continues to be a popular subject with Boston bloggers..... a sample

Kathy from Cambridgeport has a lovely story
Returning home on Thursday Feb 8, as I entered bus #2272, at Central Sq bus stop on Mass Ave at Pearl, route 47, in Cambridge MA at 10:50pm, the bus driver hit me with a stream of verbal abuse. She demanded I tell her is the elderly gentlemen, who had been sitting in the freezing cold wailting over 1/2 hour for the bus, was "drunk." How would I know? I responded. I'm not gonna let him on the bus, look at him, he's been drinking!

from MBTA Watch
CharlieCard a Success or Failure?
A snafu of sorts occurred yesterday when Mac Daniel of The Boston Globe wrote a story citing CharlieCard usage statistics that were questionable at best.
from Alexx Kay
Recently, I needed to buy a new ticket at the Quincy Center T stop. There are 5 automated machines there. One of these was being serviced by a technician, and was unusable.

I went to the second machine. After going through the multi-step process of telling it what kind of ticket I wanted, it asked me to insert my credit card. I did so, but the machine did not respond in any way. I tried again several times, fast, slow, leaving it in for a few seconds before pulling it out – every variation I could think of. No response.

I went to the third machine. Exactly the same thing happened.
TJICistan on the Mac Daniel article
crazy statements that only a unionized MBTA worker, a journalist, or an idiot could believe
Sean on changes on the #60 bus in Chestnut Hill
I'm not a transit-junkie and don't pretend to have a grasp on the nuances of individual bus routes. It appears to me that the change corresponds to the Bloomingdale's women's store move. It used to stop near Bloomingdale's. Bloomingdale's moved. Now it stops near Bloomingdale's new location. Maybe it's just coincidence.
johnsu01 on the Jewel concert
Dear MBTA,

Quit breaking the transportation system with stupid stunts. Focus on doing your damn job. I understand that you need money. I can see that from the fact that you increased the price of my monthly pass by 30%. While that is frustrating, it is a lot less frustrating to see you doing things to try to make the system stable and self-sufficient by its own revenues than it is to see you renting out the space the public is paying for in ways that cause tremendous inconvenience to the public in order to raise a few extra dollars on the side. Note that nobody was paying to see this concert. If you need to promote yourselves, try doing it in a way that doesn't damage your reputation at the same time.

John A. Keith may lose sleep over Jewel
Someone, please, fill in the missing part of the story.

For some reason, I won’t be able to sleep tonight unless I know … how did Jewel get from Boston College to South Station via the MBTA? Did she take the Green Line to Park Street, then switch to the Red Line to South Station?
Outraged Liberal is fed up with the T........again
OK, now I'm really fed up. Attempting to board the B Line outbound at BU Central tonight, I was told I needed to go the front door by a "customer service agent" without any validation equipment while people next to me were allowed to get on the train.

Does my CharlieCard (pre-paid corporate pass account) somehow give off an aura that allowed this person to determine that my hard plastic card was somehow inferior to someone else's card or CharlieTicket (or nothing for all I know). Does my card have cooties?
sanny pants says "I love the MBTA. No wait. No I don't"

Insanity Runs Amok isn't happy about the T or the people that ride it
People on the T -- If they aren't having loud, very personal conversations on their cell phone, they are pushing you around with the big ass backpack. Or they are shouting about how the Yankees suck after they watch a game in which the Red Sox have been playing the ******* ORIOLES. Fun times, let me tell you.
and that is just from Friday.............. In case anyone thinks I didn't link a positive T blog, do a search on google blogs.

There weren't any.....hey I found a couple
Thanks to stories appearing on The Somerville News Web site, MBTA workers cleaned up the trash near Davis Square.
menegay writes 'It’s cool to ride the bus'
I used to be a subway snob, I admit it. The bus seemed weird and random and automatically inferior to the subway. (It needs roads?!) And it’s fun to complain about Boston’s transit system, I also admit. But today, I have two glowing endorsements.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Jewel on a Breda

Jewel concert on the fast track

WBZ-TV has video of Jewel singing on a Breda Green Line car during rush hour on Friday

Jewel Serenades Boston 'T' Riders

Anybody make it to South Station for the concert? Hope to have video of that later.

South Station photos
from shersteve at

from rbaladiang at

T police arrest 5 graffiti artists in Braintree

from WCVB

Five Alleged Graffiti Artists Arrested

Graffiti vandals may be planning to gather in Boston during the weekend to target Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority trains, officials said.NewsCenter 5's Todd Kazakiewich reported that five alleged taggers were arrested and faced charges in Quincy District Court Friday, accused of planning to spray paint MBTA property. They pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to tag."There was an MBTA officer who saw them coming from an access road that is typically used by people who spread graffiti on trains and train property," a prosecutor said.

UPDATE: 11:50 AM Metro may have the figures correct


Christina Wallace in the Friday METRO may have a more accurate read on the numbers released by the T yesterday.
Since the beginning of January, 1.2 million CharlieCards have been distributed and approximately 86 percent of boardings during that month have been with the card or a monthly pass as opposed to the Charlie Ticket. That means, out of 22 million boardings in January, 19 million were made with CharlieCards or passes. “To get this result in 30 days is pretty remarkable,” said MBTA General Manager Daniel Grabauskas, during yesterday’s board meeting.
Ok that is a big difference in what the Globe reported as it does account for the CharlieTicket monthly passes. Wallace however came up with a much higher number of CharlieCards being in circulation saying the number is 1,200,000 over the Globe's number of 575,000. This would indicate that over 50% of the cards that have been handed out since December 4th are not being used.

However I still find the 86% boarding number cited by the T as being high simply from the number of passengers using the vending machines on a daily basis.

The T has taken the Mac Daniel story off their website.

UPDATE 9:45 AM Friday

The print edition of the Globe has a more in depth article on the first month of the Charlie system and there is a significant change in wording from what first appeared on on Thursday and is still on the T website. Mac Daniel now writes

Based on the statistics released yesterday, by the end of January, 86 percent of T riders were using CharlieCards and 14 percent used CharlieTickets or paid cash and had to pay the surcharge. Grabauskas hopes to lower the percentage of people who rely on the paper tickets in the next several months.

The 86% figure still seems to be too high given the fact that many monthly passes in January were still CharlieTickets and all Commuter Rail and Express Buses passes still are tickets.

The article in the print edition also focuses on the T's claim that fare evasion is being stopped by the new system

The T, which previously projected that the new system would boost revenues 3 percent, now expects a jump of 9 percent -- or about $21 million -- in fare collections by the end of this fiscal year, June 30.

That increase is over and above the 25 percent fare increase that took place Jan. 1, MBTA General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas said. "The numbers that we have seem to indicate strongly that fare evasion was greater throughout the system than we thought," he said.

The effort to curb fare evasion is being helped by additional security cameras , new, higher fare gates, and more T "ambassadors," who assist passengers in learning the new pay method but also are alert to people trying to jump the gates

I showed this article a few minutes ago to workers at Harvard Square and their reaction was laughter.

I think the system is collecting more revenue but fare evasion wasn't the problem. One of the main reasons the T wanted "Automatic Fare Collection" was the documented fact that T employees were robbing the system blind at the T's counting room in Charlestown. Also with the new fareboxes on the bus and trolleys dollar bills can actually be recorded which was not possible with the old fareboxes.

As far as fare evasion is concerned I have seen more people pass through faregates without paying in the last month than I have ever seen before. It is much easier just to follow somebody through a gate. A CSA isn't going to do anything unless the Transit Police happens to be there.

Original post from Thursday night 2/8/07 11:45 PM
The T is using a story by Mac Daniel on as an official press release

This story, written by Mac Daniel, appeared in the Boston Globe on February 8, 2007.

Numbers for the first month of CharlieCard usage show that despite fare increases the T's new automated system is being quickly adapted by riders, with 575,000 of the plastic cards in circulation after the program's first 30 days.

By comparison, the Chicago Transit Authority's ChicagoCard had 372,000 in circulation as of December, nearly four years after its introduction for bus and subway service.

The use of the CharlieCards has also seemed to change the way people pay to ride on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subways, buses, and trolleys. For the first time in the authority's history, the new fare card has made credit and debit card transactions account for more than 40 percent of the T's revenue.

"We have exceeded our expectations for the first 30 days," MBTA General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas said today in a telephone interview.

In January, 86 percent of T riders used CharlieCards and paid the lowest amount under the new fare structure. About 14 percent of riders paid a new surcharge by using CharlieTickets or paying cash, a number Grabauskas said he want to lower in the next several months.

In addition, 87 percent of all bus passengers used the low-fare CharlieCards, while 13 percent of riders paid a surcharge. On Green Line surface stops, 96 percent paid with CharlieCards and 4 percent paid a surcharge.

OK what the article DOESN'T tell you about Chicago.

Chicago Cards cost $ 5.00 and are only good for Pay-Per-Use fares or a 30-Day Pass.

While the Chicago Card does offer a .25 cent discount on the 'L a regular farecard ( similar to the CharlieTicket) has the same value on a bus and transfers are issued. Chicago bus riders have not warmed to the Chicago Card since a trip and transfer is still $2.00 when boarding on a bus ( it is $ 2.25 when boarding at a rail station )

Chicago Card info

Reading the Chicago blogs the problem is the Chicago Cards have an alarming failure and it takes about a week to process a replacement unless you travel to the CTA office in the Loop.

Plus the monthly and weekly passes are still offered by CTA Transit Card for the same price so there is no compelling reason to switch to the card.

This statement from Grabauskas can not be true

In January, 86 percent of T riders used CharlieCards and paid the lowest amount under the new fare structure. About 14 percent of riders paid a new surcharge by using CharlieTickets or paying cash, a number Grabauskas said he want to lower in the next several months. In addition, 87 percent of all bus passengers used the low-fare CharlieCards, while 13 percent of riders paid a surcharge. On Green Line surface stops, 96 percent paid with CharlieCards and 4 percent paid a surcharge.
It can't be true for the simple reason that many January passes were issued on CharlieTicket stock as the retail locations had not been converted. I think anybody who has ridden a bus or the subway in the past month would find these figures out of whack at least for January.

Of course the T is being cute with this. Instead of issuing a press release on their own they simply republish the Globe article by Mac Daniel.

Mac you have been had. Any commuter will tell you these figures are not correct.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

After Greenbush - what should the T do next?

On Tuesday the T celebrated the end of the construction phase of the Greenbush Commuter Rail line that will complete the reconstruction of the Old Colony routes that were abandoned by the New Haven Railroad in 1959 when the Southeast Expressway opened. The cost of restoring these 3 lines is close to ONE BILLION DOLLARS with Greenbush alone costing $510 million.

BAD TRANSIT writes about Greenbush this week and I understand where the rage is coming from. Unlike the other 2 parts of the Old Colony Division that were restored (Plymouth/Kingston Line and Middleborough/Lakeville Line) Greenbush was fought very heavily by the residents of the towns it will serve. The T HOPES that by 2010 they will have 4200 inbound passengers every weekday.

We could debate if Greenbush was a sound transit idea for decades to come but the fact is the money is spent, construction done and the line will operate starting this summer. What is more important is what the T does next.

Politicians in the New Bedford and Fall River area are pushing for the restoration of Commuter Rail to their areas. The State of New Hampshire wants to work with the T in extending Commuter Rail back to Manchester and Concord which was done briefly some 20 years ago. These are noble ideas but it is time for the T to focus on the transit needs of riders inside Route 128 (I-95).

It is time for the T to finally end 50 years of promises by itself and the former MTA and extend the Blue Line to Lynn and Salem. This is a project the old MTA wanted to do in the mid 50’s when the line was extended to Wonderland but was stopped at the State House by supporters of the former Boston & Maine Railroad which operated the commuter rail then. The project has been talked about, designed, talked about, redesigned over and over again.

2 years ago U.S. Representative John F. Tierney (D-Salem) announced the reauthorization for the Blue Line extension project to Lynn as part of the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU). The $286.4 billion legislation passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 412-8 and was signed by President Bush on August 10, 2005.

What happened??? I can’t track it down. There seems to be more interest in extending the Blue Line to Charles-MGH because of heavy pressure by Partners Healthcare to do so. I have no problem with that connector as it would finally connect the Red and Blue lines but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of extending the Blue Line to at least Lynn.

Then we have the proposed extension of the Green Line from Lechmere to West Medford which now appears to be getting some traction. But what project does the T have on the front burner?

Silver Line Phase 3 which would be a one mile bus tunnel connecting the Silver Line-Washington St with the Silver Line Waterfront busway at a cost of $1.2 billion. Honestly compared to the Blue and Green Line proposed extensions I can not see the justification of the Silver Line project for Boston transit needs in the near future. I just can not see a united Silver Line generating the ridership numbers needed to justify the amount of money being set aside for it. The money would be better spent building a no frills trolley line between North and South Station with possibly using the abandoned portal into Boylston Station. That option certainly would not cost $1.2 billion.

The T should give a call out to Seattle where King County Metro after building an expensive bus tunnel in 1990 closed it in 2005 to convert it to light-rail and bus operation.

The T has other pressing issues to deal with. The cars on the Orange Line are over 20 years old and unlike the Blue Line there are no firm plans to replace them at this time. The Red Line also has cars that were originally built in 1969-70 ( and rehabbed in the late 80's ) that will need to be replaced soon. Even the newer Red Line cars bought in 1993 will soon need an overhaul as the T is having major problems with the on board computer system designed by Digital that they can no longer get parts for since Digital products are no longer supported by Hewlett-Packard the company that now owns what is left of Digital.

The Green Line is what it is : 110 years old and showing its age.

Please offer some feedback on what the T should do next.

Charlie's Mailbag - February 8th - T Employee Appreciation Month Update

The mailbag at brings some good news this morning.

From Fred who started the idea of T Employee Appreciation Month
Just wanted to let you know that I received a letter today back from the T, Cheryl Hinton, Director of Bus Operations thanking me for my letter about Operator Wright and letting me know he received an official commendation and it was going in his permanent record. I have another letter ready to fire off for another good service effort by a driver.

I'm glad they at least respond.

- Fred

That is great to hear.

Please let us know about the GOOD T employees by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

faces of commuters

another tip from a Chicago transit blog CTA Tattler

A reader turned me on to this pretty fantastic set of photos of New York City train commuters emerging through the train turnstile.

Unfortunately, I really don't have enough Web page real estate to show off these photos by Bill Sullivan. So just go over to Bill Sullivan Works and see them for yourself.

A tip of the hat to Tom at, via live from the third rail.

Just proves the faces of commuters are the same everywhere

I don't think we will see this in Boston

I saw this item on a Chicago transit blog "Live from the Third Rail"

Soft porn films are being shown on giant video screens at a bus station in Bulgaria. The plasma TVs at the terminus in the capital Sofia show bus times during the day but switch to porn at night. A station spokesman said: 'We wanted to give the passengers something to take their minds off the cold and to pass the time while waiting for a bus.'
I mean, come on, it can't be any worse than Skin-e-max. However, I want to know where the bus station in Bulgaria is getting sufficient money to buy Plasma screen TVs. And can you imagine who gets the job of picking out the softcore porn to show to bus passengers?

So if anybody visits Sofia, Bulgaria please give us a report.....

Charlie's Mailbag - February 7th - T refunds and commuter rail woes

from the mailbag at

Kelly wonders why the T gave her too much money back


And we wonder why the T is bankrupt?

About two months ago (before the new fare increase,) I filed an on-time complaint about a D-Line inbound train during morning rush hour. I got my refunded fare in the mail yesterday, and it was … $5. Isn’t this a little much to be refunding? Not that I’m complaining, but … all I needed was my $3 fare back. If they are giving everyone more than they deserve, isn’t it a waste of money?

Also, a side note: during all the fury and madness on 1/31/07, I tried to log onto the new MBTA website to find out if my commuter rail train was going to be delayed. Surprise, surprise, I couldn’t load the webpage. And my internet was working just fine. Are they ever going to be able to handle many hits at once?

Love your site! Thank you for always watching out for us!
Hi Kelly and thanks for the nice words.

You are not the first person I have heard say this. I wonder if the refund department is simply sending out minimum refunds of $5. I have heard of some riders getting back CharlieTickets for their trouble. Does anybody else have a similar tale?

Why the T doesn't have a way of quickly adjusting their website to a text only when there is a high load factor I don't know. I know of many websites and message boards that do this regularly. It wasn't a good sign when announced the new website and 15 minutes later it crashed back in December and then what happened during the emergency last week shows they need to do something in peak times.

Peter wrote in on Monday morning about the Commuter Rail that day and I missed the email.

normally take the 8:21AM train from Swampscott. Due to the weather
this morning my wife gave me a ride to the station. We were sitting
in the car when all the sudden a train rolls in at 8:16. I quickly
hop out of the car and run to the platform and on to the train. What
I discovered resembled something that you would normally see in a
documentary on 3rd world country railway systems. People were packed
into the train worse then a 5PM E Green line car. I wound up standing
in the vestibule between cars packed with others unable to even turn
around. Others were in the space directly over the coupler. The
conductor did not even lower the stair cover and close the door. We
rode to Lynn with the door open and people hanging on for dear life.
When the train stopped we were finally able to get the stair cover
down and door closed for the rest of the trip. A dozen more people
tried to cram at Lynn in our door. All we needed was a few people
riding on the roof and hanging on the side and the 3rd world
transformation would have been complete.

I can only imagine the people waiting in the frigid temperatures this
AM for trains that never came or already passed (nobody really knows
Sadly like death and taxes you know the Commuter Rail falls apart when it gets cold. You would think the T would be prepared for this after all these years but it continues to happen. We all know the information signs are useless but the T "promises" they are working on a new system.

In any event service has gotten worse since MBCR took over the operation of the Commuter Rail from Amtrak. Keep in mind the T didn't fire Amtrak, they walked away from bidding on the new contract.

MBCR's website proudly says

MBCR is a partnership among three leading transportation companies: Veolia Transportation, Bombardier and Alternate Concepts, Inc. It was chosen by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to manage and operate the Boston commuter rail system, effective July 1, 2003.
What it fails to mention is how members of this partnership have lost rail contracts in Europe over poor performance.

It should be very interesting at South Station this summer when the Greenbush line starts operation. While the T has put out a bid for new locomotives and passenger cars they won't be here for years and MBCR had trouble last summer keeping enough locomotives and cars in service.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Greenbush line is completed testing to begin in April

The long delayed 497 million dollar restoration of the Greenbush Commuter Rail line will soon be up and running. T and State officials today celebrated the end of construction on the line.

The Greenbush Project will restore commuter rail service on the 18-mile long Greenbush rail line through the towns of Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham, Cohasset, and Scituate, Massachusetts.

METRO: Don’t toss those CharlieTickets after all

A month ago we posted an entry about people discarding CharlieTickets that still had value on them and one of our readers decided to check for himself. Today Christina Wallace writes about him the METRO.
Ron Newman has a new hobby.

In the past several weeks, the Red Line commuter has noticed a pile up of CharlieTickets scattered on the ground of MBTA stations. Instead of chucking them in the trash, he decided to check to see if they still had value. What he found was that riders frequently ditch their tickets without tapping their value.

Newman began a mission: Collect as many tickets as possible.

As of late last week, the Somerville resident had 30 tickets worth $55.

“People don’t understand you can add value to a ticket,” said Newman, who commutes from Davis Square in Somerville.

His next step: Deposit the value onto one CharlieCard and donate it to a charity for someone in need.

Today at South Station I picked up a ticket that had an original value of $10 and when I checked it there was $8 on it.

some transit notes from New York

I noticed a couple of transit items in the New York Post yesterday that may be of interest to Boston riders.

Every bus at Manhattan's 126th Street depot has been equipped with global-positioning hardware, allowing its exact location to be monitored from a command center in East New York, Brooklyn, officials said.

Electronic signs will be installed at some bus shelters, relaying the expected wait time for the next bus. This information will also be made available on the MTA's Web site.
Maybe someday this dream will become a reality in Boston....

and the Post got the training manual for their Customer Service Agents


Relations between straphangers and the MTA are strained at best, according to the Customer Service Plus manual obtained by The Post.

Despite this, the agency's advice to the former token-booth clerks for handling angry riders is essentially to do nothing.

"Learn to 'zip your lip,' the manual advises. "Nod your head frequently and say, 'Uhh-huh' from time to time."

And, the guide warns, "Don't tap your feet."

Wonder what the Boston one says....

Charlie's Mailbag February 6th more on North Station

from the mailbag at
Joseph looks at the improved North Station
I also would like to voice my opinion a little on the renovations at North Station.

My few points would be

1. LARGE monitors should be mounted inside the new area at each or every other doorway to the trains..The 13 inch monitors outside the station DO NOT cut it anymore..

2. The platforms outside the new area connecting the tracks SHOULD be permanent. There is nothing worse than trying to fight your way through pedestrian traffic to get to your train.

3. How about a couple of Kiosk vendors to at least give us the option to buy something to read or to drink.. There is plenty of room and not everyone likes MacDonald's.

4. All of this should have been in the budget since we all have gotten our tickets increased twice within the last 2 years. One would have thought the architects would have thought of these improvements during the planning period.

Any feedback would be great..

Delaware North says retail locations are coming.

A second phase in the upcoming months will introduce a variety of retail options geared to commuters and Garden guests including food and beverage retail locations, ATMs and other service providers.


Rest of your suggestions make sense.

Greg from San Francisco who writes a transit blog says hello

I read about your blog at the Christian Science Monitor (via Yahoo
News) and took a look....I like it very much! I've always had an
interest in Boston's system since a) I spent a summer there a few
years ago and liked the city very much and b) Boston used to have the
infamous Boeing cars we did.

I have been doing a similar site, since 2005, at http:// . I mostly focus on the N-line since it's
the only one that covers a cross section of the city (and it's the
one I ride the most) but I do other issues too.

Anyway, looks like you're doing great, keep up the good work!


Thanks for the kind words. Yes MUNI and the T did share the wonderful Boeing cars and now we both have Bredas. I know the N line well as I have taken it out the beach several times. The line really is a melting pot. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, February 05, 2007

T gets $630,396 from Turner Broadcasting

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today that Massachusetts state and local officials have reached a settlement with Turner Broadcasting and Interference, Inc., by which the companies will pay $2 million in restitution and other compensation to the communities and agencies affected by last week’s scare.

Here is a breakdown of where the money will go.




TOTAL $630,396

Charlie's Mailbag - Feb 5th Somerville bus woes, Charlie issues

from the mailbag at

Rob in Somerville writes about what should be an easy bus trip

Dear Charlie,

I thought you might be interested in my rant about the unbelievable poor quality of weekend bus service, which many shoppers and workers attempt to rely upon.

It was Saturday night, and I was having a hard time mashing potatoes with a meat tenderizer. So I decided to go to the shiny Kmart in Assembly Square and get a real masher.

Now, I work from home and choose not to to own a car. That shouldn't be a problem, because the MBTA's No. 90 bus literally runs door to door, from my home to the shops at Assembly Square. The beleaguered agency's $466,000 new website announce that on this Saturday evening, the 90 bus would pick me up outside my home at about 7:35pm and then retrieve me from Kmart at about 9:05.

Nope. Even though the 90 runs across Somerville (the most densely populated city in New England, with almost 80,000 residents on four square miles), to the Sullivan Square transit hub, to the shops at Assembly Square, to the Wellington transit hub, it only runs once an hour on Saturdays. It doesn't run at all on Sunday. And even when it's supposed to run, it doesn't run. So whether you're one of the hundreds who work in the big boxes or a normal person who works on weekdays and shops on weekends, you can't get there from here. Sorry, buy a car.

When I saw the schedule last night, I thought I was experiencing a rare case of luck. I went outside at 7:30. The bus came by, at 7:43, going the wrong direction. I waited another twelve minutes for the bus to go to Davis Square, turn around, and come back. It was about 20 minutes late, but I could live with that. Sure, it was 30 degrees out, but like a first-class citizen of America, I was basking in the glow from a Dunkin Donuts and reading American Psycho.

can read the rest at Rob's blog
Rob I couldn't agree more. Nights and weekends bus service is just too spotty in many areas

Gabe has another CharlieCard issue
Hey, I'm Gabe, I live in Lexington, and I use the T pretty regularly. I don't know if other people have been having this problem with Charliecards, but here's the story.

I was in Andrew station on Saturday, going home after volunteering at the red cross food pantry on mass ave., i tapped my charliecard, but instead of opening up, the faregate honked loudly and flashed a SEE AGENT message at me. Assuming that, as in past experience, that simply meant "sorry, you didn't tap right" i simply tapped again and went through. however, looking at the screen on the gate, i realized that it had already charged the card the first time. now thanks to the genius' at the T, i need to somehow make it all the way to downtown crossing to get my 1.70 back. that sort of transaction ought to be able to be handled by any CSA and any fare vending machine in the system. grrr....

Again I couldn't agree more. The CSA's should be able to fix minor problems on the spot without sending people downtown.

Linda wonders if the T is starting a Fast Lane type of boarding
Here's something new to me. I'm a daily Commuter Rail rider with a monthly
pass on CharlieTicket, and don't ride the subway that often.

Entering the Redline at Porter Square this morning the gate slot wouldn't
accept my CharlieTicket. Then i noticed (this is pre-coffee, of course)
that several of the gates read "SmartCard Only." So now they're apparently
restricting some of the gates to "fast lane"? Sounds like a good idea
except--sour grapes--we commuter railers don't have that option (yet?).

Is this the beginning of "fast lane" CharlieCard-Only fare gates, or just
an anomaly?

Linda of Lynn
I haven't heard that they are officially doing this but it is something done in other cities ( example Chicago ) But Porter wouldn't be the station I would pick for the roll out if they are. As you mentioned the Commuter Rail folks still have CharlieTickets and the biggest crunch time at Porter happens when the inbound Commuter Rail stops there. Taking out gates for CharlieTickets is not going to help with the crunch.

I have heard from a conductor on the Commuter Rail that it maybe a another few months before CharlieCards roll out on the rail service as the T needs to find away to keep the hand held validators the conductors use from running out of battery power. As anyone with a laptop knows, outlets on the Commuter Rail are few and far between. I have heard that the validators on the Green Line need to be recharged after about 3 hours.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

PATRIOT LEDGER - T pays some to sit and do little

The weekend edition of the Patriot Ledger brings a front page story about one worker complaining about her workload at the T. Not too much work, too little. So she filed a complaint that the T wasn't given her any work because of her age ( she is 75 )The state dismissed the complaint but wait until you read why.
complaint Mendeleyev filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination was dismissed in September, but the agency did not dispute her estimate of her workload.

Instead, a commission investigator found that there was no discrimination because most of her colleagues were given the same number of assignments, if not fewer.

One of the other engineers received no projects to work on in 2003 and 2004 and another had one assignment, the investigator reported.

T spokesman Joseph Pesaturo declined to provide information on Mendeleyev’s salary and the engineering payroll.

read the entire article here

Charlie's Mailbag - Feb 4th - stupid is as stupid does

Another edition of the mailbag which can be reached at

Gwen from Waltham noticed something odd about the Silver Line-Waterfront bus maps. They don't show the Silver Line.

Hey Charlie love your blog.
I work down in the Seaport District and usually catch the Silver Line at what they call "Silver Line Way". Yesterday I saw a couple of tourists looking at the bus map there and I offered to help.

They were looking for the Black Falcon Terminal and which bus to take and by mistake they had taken the bus to the Airport and were now trying to figure out which other Silver Line bus to take.

Charlie the map in the bus shelter doesn't have the Silver Line on it. It has all the other bus routes but nothing for SL1, SL2 or SL3. I read last week that the trip planner lost the Orange Line and now it looks like they lost a bus line as well!!

I got this letter about a week ago and I decided to check this out myself as I couldn't believe the T could lose a bus line.

I was wrong.

I went to the Silver Line Way station this morning and there is absolutly no mention of the SL Waterfront Lines on the map in the bus shelter. What makes this stranger is the bus shelter never existed until the Silver Line opened so it should not be a case of a map they never updated. Throw in the fact that the line has been running now for over two years one would think this oversight would have been corrected by now.

Now who exactly is at fault here I can't be sure. The shelters are maintained by WALL USA which was selected by the City of Boston to install 'street furniture' which includes automatic public toilets, newsstands, bus shelters, and information kiosks. They are probably the people responsible for the maps in the shelters but does the T print the maps or does WALL do so.

In any event the maps are out of date and it is pretty useless to have a bus map that doesn't show the bus you are waiting for.

Jeff from Abington had a run in with MBTA Police on Sunday morning

I enjoy your blog and very much as it shows me I am not alone at thinking the T could be a lot better. This morning I had occasion to be confronted by MBTA Police Officers because I was reading a newspaper.

I had missed my train from Abington this morning so I drove to Braintree to catch the Red Line to Boston. Outside Braintree station I picked up a newspaper in a box right outside the ststion entrance for something to read going in town.

As we left North Quincy 2 MBTA officers approached me and told me I was reading pornography on the train and that is not allowed. What I was reading is a newspaper called Barstool Sports which can be a little racy but nothing that is outlandish in todays society. They even demanded to see my ID.

I have never even gotten as much as a parking ticket in my life and I am being harrassed for reading a newspaper I picked up at a T station?

Abington, MA

Jeff this report leaves me speechless. I know the paper you were reading and yes they are known for covers with beautiful women wearing as little as possible but it certainly in no way comes close to being pornography.

This has to be brought to the attention of the Transit Police because from what you report this really makes one wonder about the judgement abilty of these officers.

Here is the person to contact

Joseph C. Carter
Chief of MBTA Transit Police
MBTA Transit Police Department
240 Southampton Street Boston, MA 02118

You can also check out their website at

which informs us that

Please let us know what happens with this

Comuter Rail signs to be fixed

Things must be getting better with Charlie as Mac Daniel's Sunday column in the Globe has no mention of CharlieCards or CharlieTickets this week.

But he does talk about the infamous information signs on the Commuter Rail and the T is about to revamp the system.....again
Some of the signs can handle 99 characters; others on the same rail line can handle 1,600 characters. Should a dispatcher enter more than 99 characters on a rail line that also has signs that can handle 1,600 the signs go blank or begin issuing garbled blips and bloops.

Then there's the chain of command. Dispatchers at South Station send messages for display on the signs to an MBTA router at High Street, which sends them to a phone line, which transmits them to individual computers at each station. That process involves three computers and along that line, there's a lot that can go wrong.

There have also been software crashes galore on the system. When the vendor recently performed an upgrade, the problems got worse.

Once again, the system is headed for an upgrade, T officials said last week.

The T has recently received proposals for a new satellite-based sign system that is hoped to streamline the process.

"It's going to be a straight communication line" from the dispatcher to the station, said Stephen Jones, the T's deputy director of railroad operations.

A contractor could be selected by the end of the month, he said.

In addition, and don't hold your breath, Jones said there's the potential to do arrival countdowns routinely , meaning the signs could tell passengers how far away the next train is from the station.

Sounds like the same system we talked about last week