Saturday, February 24, 2007

T in the media - February 24th edition

scanning the newswires to find how local media is covering the T the past few days

MBTA Police Discover MySpace, Criminals Bostonist, MA -
The Globe brings us a story of crime fighting success by the MBTA police. The T has installed a number of cameras in subway and bus stations over the last ...

Sinkhole on Newton bridge affects MBTA service
WHDH-TV, MA - Feb 23, 2007 An MBTA spokesman says the T will bus passengers between the Reservoir and Riverside trolley stops on the Green Line's D branch this morning because of the ...

Finding the new Charles/MGH Station
Bostonist, MA - Feb 22, 2007 The MBTA opened up the new Charles/MGH stop last weekend. Among the changes to the station the most notable is pedestrian and handicapped access to the ...

BC plans stress unifying campus, improving traffic
Allston-Brighton TAB, MA - Feb 22, 2007 Dumont presented artist’s renderings of the plan, which includes a 400-foot-long MBTA stop in the middle of the road, and an elevated pedestrian walkway ...

A breakdown of train, and communication
Boston Globe, MA - Feb 22, 2007... was still obstinately insisting that train service was 'on or near schedule,' " he wrote in an e-mail he sent to MBTA management and shared with us. ...

Train crushes commuter's foot at Concord Depot
Concord Journal, MA - Feb 21, 2007 A Leominster man sustained serious non-life threatening injuries from a MBTA train when he slipped at the Concord Depot on Wednesday morning, according to ...

Attempted Suicide at Harvard T Station
Harvard Crimson, MA - Feb 21, 2007 According to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) police Lieutenant Salvatore L. Venturelli, the man—whom he described as a Caucasian male in ...

Man accused of exposing self
Daily News Transcript, MA - Feb 20, 2007 WESTWOOD - A Norwood man is being held on $5000 cash bail after police said he was caught exposing himself to a woman on an MBTA bus Thursday afternoon. ...

GLOBE: Commuter rail plan is met with protests

Mac Daniel writes on Saturday how residents of the Town of Easton are not happy with a proposed Commuter Rail extension through their town.
The final route will largely determine if and when it gets built. Murray and Governor Deval Patrick promised during their campaign to extend rail service to the South Coast, but the administration has released few details about the timing or financing. On April 4, the state is scheduled to release its plan for the project, which is estimated to cost more than $800 million.

Is this going to become another Greenbush fiasco?

800 million is a lot of money for a system that says it is broke. Certainly it would be nice to have rail service to New Bedford and Fall River and for that matter Cape Cod as well but the reality is the South Coast has bus service now that seems to meet the demand from those cities. That 800 million could be put to far better use on the existing system.

Maybe it is time for the Commonwealth to consider running the Commuter Rail as a separate entity from the MBTA. To this observer it seems as though Commuter Rail gets far more attention than the core subway and bus in the city when you consider the number of passengers served. Keep in mind the reason the MBTA was created in the first place in 1964 was to help save the existing Commuter Rail service into Boston. That is no longer an issue but the reality is T service inside 128 is the worst it has been in decades.

Friday, February 23, 2007

problems at Newton Centre (D-Line) Friday morning????

Sue sends a report to about service disruptions at Newton Centre on the D Line Friday morning.
Here are some photos of the MBTA work at Newton Centre
this morning.

Shuttle bus. The one I took a photo of had a Metro ad
on it saying "Know and go." The bus also had "out of
service" on it and was one of three at the platform.

Fortunately the T workers were there to inform people
that there was still one train left going inbound
before they started putting people on the shuttle
buses to Reservoir.

The chief T worker explained that one of the bridges
was dropping pieces of concrete onto the tracks, so
the T wisely stopped T traffic and got a work train
out there. (If you look closely at the second and
third pictures you can see the work train as an unlit
dark rectangle on the inbound tracks near that
bridge.) The bridge is the second one from the
station going towards Newton Highlands. I walk over
that bridge a lot. The concrete work on it is only a
few years old; 1999, I think. (The one closer to the
platform says "2001.")

The chief T person there said the work train was
"shoring up" the bridge and they hoped train traffic
would only be stopped for a few hours. He didn't
sound very confident.

The T people were very quick and helpful to inform
people and to let them know the train was coming in on
the outbound track.

He was in radio contact with a dispatcher to let him
know when the last inbound train cleared into Newton

The second T person there asked him, "How come your
radio works and mine doesn't?" The chief replied, "I
use the old ones." Translation: The T bought new
equipment that doesn't work as well as the old.
Remind you of anything else on the T?

The inbound train came in on the outbound tracks and I
was able to get on without problems. (Sorry I missed
the cool shot of the inbound train coming in on the
outbound tracks.) The train stopped normally at
Chestnut Hill, went towards Reservoir, switched to the
inbound track smoothly and went in like a normal

I don't know how it went for Shuttle Bus passengers.

Anyway, from my experience this morning, kudos to the
T people handling the problem. Dubious honors to the
people who did the work on the bridge a few years ago;
unless the concrete was dislodged by a very clumsy
plow driver or something.
Sue then send a second message
Here's an additional note on the T's performance this

I had been waiting on the platform probably five
minutes when the ranking T officer asked the other guy
to see if the shuttle buses would allow some
passengers on in case they were cold and didn't want
to wait. However, he also informed the passengers
that probably the bus would get there in time to meet
the very same train and there would be a better chance
of getting on if you waited for the train right there
at Newton Centre. Very good to know. The T people
were obviously thinking about the comfort and
convenience of passengers -- just for those of you who
think none of them do. It wasn't that cold out but
they were willing to give us the option. Very
thoughtful. I wish I'd taken down their names. They
deserve kudos, even though they'd probably say they
were just doing their jobs.

Including the poor woman near the shuttle buses who
had to shout calmly over the bus roar.

Because of their patience and calmness, the passengers
were calmer, too.

All very helpful.

I am assuming this has been fixed as there is nothing on the T website about it but we would like to hear from other Green Line passengers. It does appear that the T did handle the situation well.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

State Auditor Report on Breda Green Line cars

Auditor of the Commonwealth, Joe DeNucci has released a report on
The Purchase of Green Line Cars by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 recognized, among other rights, that people with disabilities should have equal access to transit services and facilities that are available to the non-disabled public.
In response to this need to ensure equal access for all patrons, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) commissioned a feasibility study to review impediments to the disabled from accessing its transit system. The results of this study, issued by the MBTA in September, 1990, centered on feasibility investigations for full accessibility for persons in wheelchairs on the MBTA’s Green Line. In response to this study, on September 5, 1990, the MBTA Board authorized the General Manager to implement the recommendations of the study, which included utilizing elevators, escalators, ramps, and most importantly the use of low-floor, wheelchair accessible, light-rail vehicles as a means of providing accessibility on the Green Line.

To accomplish the low-floor light-rail vehicle concept, the MBTA Board of Directors voted on February 8, 1995 to award a contract for $215 million to Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie (AnsaldoBreda) of Pistoia, Italy. Under the terms of the contract, Breda agreed to furnish 100 wheelchair-accessible low-floor No. 8 Green Line cars, provide spare parts, and modify the 115 existing No. 7 Kinkisharyo cars for operational compatibility with these new No. 8 cars.

Our review, which is a follow-up of a prior audit of this contract (Audit No. 2002-0583-3A1) was conducted to determine the overall effectiveness of the MBTA procurement process and oversight over the delivery of these 100 low-floor accessible Green Line cars and the current status of this contract.

The MBTA did not properly oversee the activities of its design and consultant engineers for the purchase of 100 Breda No. 8 Low-Floor Green Line cars initially projected to cost the Authority approximately $215 million dollars in February, 1995. Subsequently, due to design errors, change orders, consultant fees, car derailment problems requiring wheel modification costs, and increased track maintenance expenses, the projected costs to purchase these cars and also ensure against future derailments, will cost the Authority an additional $101 million over the expected 20 year life of these cars.

At the inception of the Breda No. 8 Low-Floor Green Line cars contract, the MBTA could not provide detailed track standards and conditions data necessary for Breda to properly design these low-floor cars to operate on the existing Green Line track infrastructure. This lack of detailed track information played a significant role in the dispute between the MBTA and Breda over whether the derailment issue was caused by car design or track conditions. Moreover, because of design delays at the outset of the contract, the MBTA improperly allowed Breda to combine and accelerate the testing and debugging of the prototype cars prior to authorizing full production of these vehicles by the contractor. These ill-advised decisions by the MBTA directly contributed to the faulty accepted design of these vehicles and their propensity to derail, and ultimately delayed providing their disabled patrons access to these vehicles.

CLICK HERE for the entire report

odds and ends February 22nd

The recent comments on the left sidebar is now working again.

Those getting comments in a reader please use this feed instead....Google still hasn't fixed the problem this is simply a workaround

A San Francisco transit blog has some nice words to say about us.

Charlie on the MBTA: A Brother in Solidarity Fighting for Mass Transit
Wasn't it Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy who said something about bureaucracy being the one constant in the universe?

The N-Judah Chronicles lights its lighter in honor of Charlie on the MBTA because...they rock.

Charlie's Mailbag - February 22nd

trying to catch up with the mail at

we will start off with Jeff who has some observations
I love your site, and I first saw stuff about it in the Metro newspaper!

As someone who lives in the North Shore but works in the Hancock Tower near Back Bay, I find it horribly long and arduous just to get to work in the morning. I don't really have a problem with time itself, but somehow that extra work involved with taking the train and then the T just gets to me in a special way that only Boston's daily grind can. We all sort of accept the suffering much in the same way we used to just KNOW the Red Sox could never win the World Series!

Well, they did it, and they could do it again (unless of course, we allow our "collective" but sometimes "downer" 'consciousness' overpower the vibe!) and now I think the T has a chance to power through all that crap as well!

What this city needs for me is this:

Thing One:

Connect the North Station to Back Bay and South Station with a 3 way Mono Rail or something--dedicated to ONLY service those 3 stops frequently and with haste! Something designed for both the in city traveler and daily commuter, as well as the out of towner who flies into Logan (oh that's another story of horror--don't get me started, but do start a blog) and has no freakin' idea WHICH station to go to! (My in-laws from Europe recently surprised us with a short visit only to get hung up with T's trains and which station served our little town in to the north.

Thing two:

PLEASE increase the length of a line to the north and stop making it so commuter rail trains don't always go to all the little towns right around rush hour when you need them most! I have to run to a train that i always miss when leaving work, and if I miss it, the next one is over an hour later, getting my home way past all life has to offer with family! (roll eyes icon inserted here)

Thing Three?

Connect the Green and Orange lines TO the inside of North Station, not cramming everyone up a couple sets of stairs and doorways that, since they were newly built, probably means this will never happen. But seriously, that station needs better access and MORE BATHROOMS TOO!

Well, that's my rant for now. See? I didn't even talk about those way too high ticket prices, non-healthy & dirty trains that give me the flu or colds after multiple uses, and how crammed up the Orange line is in the morning--every morning. Hope some of it gets posted somewhere... People can send me resumes in the meantime
Jeff when the designers of the downtown transit system put everything together 100 years ago there WAS train service between North and South Station. There was an elevated line that ran along Atlantic Avenue.
The Atlantic Avenue Elevated was an elevated railway around the east side of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, providing a second route for the Boston Elevated Railway's Main Line (now the Orange Line) around the Washington Street Tunnel. It was in use from 1901 to 1938, and was demolished due to low ridership.
The line was doomed by a couple of factors. In 1919, the Boston molasses disaster resulted in damage to the El in the area north of Battery Street and because Boston was in an economic slump BEFORE the depression ridership was low to begin with.

Certainly when the Big Dig was designed there SHOULD have been a provision for a rail tunnel between North and South Station but like so many things in Boston it fell between the cracks. Right now I would be happy if there was regular bus service between the 2 points.

As far as why the Green, Orange and Commuter Rail stations are not connected as of yet the blame goes to Delaware North the owner of the Garden who is responsible for the commuter rail station. When the new superstation was designed Delaware North could not tell the T for certain where the train station would wind up. It appears they are doing something now to improve access between the 2 stations.

Ines wonders what happened Tuesday night at Harvard Station

I (and about 100 other passenger) witnessed an accident on the red line last Tuesday. A man slipped or fell on the tracks and the first car of the train ran over him. The driver stopped immidiately, jumped out, ran along the wall and looked under the train. He saw the man and called the ambulance. The man somehow got up and walked along the tracks towards the first car. One of the people waiting was asked to jump over the third rail to prevent him from falling on it. The man was covered in blood, still holding onto his book. The ambulance, fire brigade and police rushed in from all directions.

I was really shocked and couldn't sleep that night due to the pictures in my head of the man crawling up from under the train and tried to find information about it that same evening, the next morning and today. There is nothing to find so far. I looked it up on, the News/Events section on, I even called the customer service yesterday - the woman laughed about me. I am wondering if this is right to keep information from the public and why the MBTA doesn't give any news to the public. I believe that an accident like this can happen to anyone - the man didn't look as if he jumped (the outbound train is extremely slow when it comes into Harvard Square from Central Square) - it looked as if he slipped from the plattform.

Maybe there were more reports on this?
The only reports I am aware of were posted on and at

Conscious Male Patient with Multi Trauma Removed from the pit by Cambrdge Fire, Professional Ambulance ALS to Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center with members of Cambrdge Fire Squad 4 on Board

It appears that it was a suicide attempt.
Compare that to this story on the CTA Tattler blog from Chicago
May he rest in peace eternally
Anytime I write about awful odors on the CTA, I get emails and comments from readers who want to share their foul stories. This one takes the cake for being among the saddest and most disturbing:
I once got on the Red Line with a friend and we were immediately assaulted by the most foul, rank odor I've ever smelled in my life. Everyone on the train had their shirts over their noses and looked like they were going to be sick. We tried to move to the other side of the train but the smell was just as strong.
At the next stop (Grand, I believe), the doors opened and a couple of cops entered our car, carrying a body bag. They walked straight to the Hobo Corner and left a few minutes later, having filled the bag.
Later that night, while watching the news, I discovered that a hobo had died in the Hobo Corner. It was a little disturbing and very ironic.

Miriam wonders about the old exit gates at Braintree

When the new Charlie system was installed last summer, the T put two rows of new fare gates in the Braintree station: one row of gates to enter, and one to exit. Up until January 1, there was still an exit fare at Braintree and Quincy Adams. Now that the exit fare has been eliminated, the exit gates are sitting idle. Moreover, it seems the T intends to put a fence in front of them, rendering them useless. The T knew that the exit fare was ending January 1--why not simply reprogram those very expensive gates so that they can be used to enter and exit, just like the ones on the other side of the station? This seems to me another example of the poor planning and financial carelessness the T exhibits on a regular basis. It took many months, and many millions of dollars, to install all those new gates. Now they're just going to mothball an entire row of gates in a very busy station simply because the exit fare no longer exists. It is certainly possible to put those gates into use--why not do it?
Given that the new fare system has been in place for almost 2 months I don't have a clue what they are going to do at both Braintree and Quincy Adams and from the looks of things the T doesn't have a clue either. However you ask a great question? Why did the T put in Charlie EXIT gates at those stations knowing that in a few months they would be useless??? Seems to me maybe those should have been the last stations converted to Charlie, not Fields Corner or Government Center.

Coco does a good dead at Harvard Square
Today I got off the T at Harvard Square, and as usual exited via the Church Street exit. As I passed through the turnstile, I saw an older woman with a German/Slavic accent arguing with a T employee. It didn't take much to get the gist of the dispute; she'd used a CharlieTicket to get in, then realised she'd forgotten something and went out to get it, and when she tried to go back in with the same ticket, it wouldn't let her because it was the same station she'd just entered. She was very agitated, and to be fair, the T employee was being kind of a jerk about it. "Hey, not my problem - you went out. You can buy another ticket, or, you can wait 20 minutes..." I mean, all he had to do was let her back in; she had a ticket, and she was so upset I doubt she was lying.

Finally, I broke in. "Excuse me, Ma'am? Here." I turned and used my CharlieCard - fortified with a Monthly Pass and valid for Harvard since I hadn't entered there - to open the gate. "There you are; go ahead." She went through in a flash, and with barely a glance to the T employee, I turned and disappeared into the crowd heading up the stairs.

So, not only a good deed done, but a chance to show the T employees what sympathy and kindness actually looks like in action.
I'll just add that the rudest CSA's I have come across on the system just happens to be at Church St as well. It was a pleasure watching the Washington CSA's yesterday. They know what the job entails.

Ben passes on the info that Google Maps now has Boston ( and other major cities) subway stations marked.

I love that Google Maps now shows T stops, that is so handy. Odd
though that the T stops are indicated with a blue 'M' - New York's
hegemony I guess. Also odd, the silver line stops aren't shown.

Here's a screenshot I took
I am in Chicago writing this and I am at an internet cafe right under the M at Thorndale Station
Google Maps Chicago example

Brian wonders why Mass Ave in the Back Bay was so tied up on Wednesday

Got off at Mass Avenue on the Orange Line at around 7:50am. Notice that Mass Ave traffic is moving at a crawl from Boston City Hospital to my stop, along with several tractor trailer trucks dragging along what seems to be either large AC units or temporary houses. Waited a couple of minutes, and two Route 1 buses come. First one (2143?) is crowded, but not to the famous sardine-like consistency other buses have. Second bus (2268?) I figure I'd get on, since it is quite empty. Wouldn't you know it...the empty bus pulls away, and following it is the fuller bus.

Waited another six or seven minutes for a CT1. Got on bus (fine), traffic was still at a major crawl - not just to the Mass Ave bridge at Beacon Street, but through MIT and University Park, too. The only time we clear traffic is right at Central Square. (When I usually get there at around 7:30am, there's hardly a car there, the buses show up on time, and it's excellent, as you avoid all of downtown and the Charles Street, and there are very few if any Boston School buses. I can get to Central Square in 15 minutes and Harvard in 20.)

Cambridge and Boston residents use Mass Ave as a shortcut to I-93 to Quincy and the South Shore, as do tractor-trailer trucks and heavy vehicles, but if there was ever a place where congestion pricing (unpopular as it is) would work like magic, Mass Ave would be a prime candidate, and just the thought of forking over $2-$5 for a shortcut would cause the I-93 shortcut drivers to seek an alternate route, and let the buses and other drivers through. I know when I-93 is backed up when it takes 30 minutes to go from Hynes Convention Center to Mass Ave Station!
Brian that has always been one of the touchiest areas of Boston traffic and when it backs up it seems like the entire grid is affected. It has been like that as long as I have lived in Boston and was one of the reasons they wanted to build the so called "Inner Belt" in the 1960's connecting Roxbury with Sullivan Sq through Cambridge and Somerville. Since it doesn't get like that daily I think we should count our blessings that the "Inner Belt" was never built as it would have destroyed much of the city we love.

Have a good commute everyone

Charlie does Amtrak and lives to tell about it

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

All I wanted to do was to go from Boston to Chicago via Amtrak, a trip that usually takes 22 hours from Boston. However this odyssey took close to 40 hours as I was routed through Washington and then West Virginia and Kentucky. I left South Station at 9:45 Tuesday evening and arrived in Chicago at Noontime today. I didn't know about the West Virginia routing until they changed my train yesterday morning in DC.
I did learn one thing. If you want to be in an area with no cellphone service West Virginia is the place to go to as I couldn't even get a roaming signal with my carrier and I have in the past gotten service in Eastern Montana.

The absolute clincher came early this morning when the locomotive ran out of fuel outside of Indianapolis. That made passengers forget the fact that the coaches had no heat during the middle of the night.

I'll be updating the mailbag later but also I want to share my experience in riding the Washington Metro Wednesday morning.

The Washington Metro opened in 1976 and is now the second busiest subway in the US after New York with about 700,000 trips taken on a typical weekday. It is for the most part a pleasure to take. Each station has signs that tell you not only when the next train is coming but how many cars so you know where to stand for your train. Washington has had this service now for about 5 years but as we have discussed before the T has decided against doing it in Boston ( even though they now have the equipment to do so)

One thing I noticed is how clean passengers leave the trains. Washington has two subway papers and nobody simply discards it on the train like Boston. Washington still has human announcements calling out the train stops and they were clear and concise. My only gripe about the Metro was the fare vending machines are not very passenger friendly.

The Washington FVM's seem to come in different versions. Some simply spit out a fare ticket similar to the CharlieTicket, others allow you to use their SmarTrip card which is similar to CharlieCard. Some but not all machines take credit cards. The machine I used had a $20.00 fareticket purchase as default and you have to toggle it down to the amount you want, there is no keyboard option like the T. Still overall I found them easier to use than the T's ticket machines. One thing of note the Washington SmarTrip card does not offer discount fares, and it cost $5.00 to purchase one. However those that park at a Metro station have no choice but to buy the SmarTrip card as it is the only way one can pay for parking.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

T Tales: A fun night on the 426

Matt sends in his T Tale from last Friday night to
On Friday night I took the 426 home from Haymarket. There were three
people waiting at the Linden Sq. stop, one of whom walked out into
the middle of the street, anticipating that the bus would stop in
such a way as to allow the prospective passengers to board without
climbing over an ice sheet.

The driver waved her away and then drove around near, coming very
close to hitting her.

When the three passengers came into the bus they began verbally
accosting the bus driver. He retorted with some colorful language
while defending his act of stopping at the designated stop instead of
a slightly more convenient location. This continued until all the
passengers got off at their stops. I also got off with the last of
those passengers, and I was the only one on the bus not screaming.

That sounds like it was a memorable trip.

I maybe wrong on this but I believe it is the CITY and not the T that is responsible for clearing out bus stops. I say this because both Boston and Cambridge have contracted with companies to provide bus shelters.

Sadly I have seen this play out on other bus routes the past few days as most bus stops were in sorry, sorry shape in the Cambridge area.

T Tales - a rider leaves a rant

I will be traveling until Thursday noontime and I may not be able to update the blog until then as my wireless card is not working as it should. However please continue to e-mail us.

Also the recent comments summary is currently not working showing the last comments as of February 6th. This is a system wide issue with blogspot and google is aware of the problem and it should be fixed shortly.

from the mailbag at Andreas is fed up
So i put five dollers in the farebox, and it takes all my money without
giving me a charlieticket. I get some complaint form which i need to mail
in to get my money which will probably never come.

I'm riding the D Line a few days ago and I hit the stop request button and
it skips my stop!

At another time, I cross the tracks in front of a boarding train, in plain
sight and the train moves on as soon as I'm off the tracks and about to get
on, making me wait another 10 minutes in the cold.

The train waits 10 minutes at Fenway with no announcements, and after 5
minutes the conductor of the train(car #2) gets out of the train and onto
the platform, people file on for free and then the train makes some loud
noises and gets on its way.

From a person who now bikes instead of riding the T.
We are hearing about ( and have seen first hand ) problems with the fareboxes adding value to CharlieCards. I can tell you that the T has been good in issuing refunds quickly to customers this has happened.

There seems to be a problem with people hitting the stop request on a second car of a Breda trolley and the driver in the first car not knowing about it. A Green Line motorman confirmed to me this is an issue and just said "it is yet another bug in these Bredas".

Teenager stabbed multiple times at Back Bay T station

from the Herald

An 18-year-old man was in critical condition at Boston Medical Center yesterday after being stabbed multiple times at the Back Bay MBTA station, leaving commuters stunned and police looking for witnesses.

An MBTA security guard said he saw a group of about seven youths running past the scene and thought, “They’re up to something.” The guard said the victim was conscious when found.

MBTA spokeswoman Lydia Rivera said police haven’t determined whether the victim knew his assailants. Shortly after the stabbing, a pool of blood remained on the outbound side of the station’s lower deck, as detectives surveyed the scene and stunned T riders looked on.

from the Globe
The stabbing occurred around 4 p.m. at the Orange Line station, and the attackers fled afterward, said Lydia Rivera, MBTA spokeswoman. She added that police may get clues of the suspects' identities after they review tapes from the station's surveillance cameras.

"This is unusual," Rivera said of the group nature of the attack.

The victim was taken to Boston Medical Center and was in critical condition last night, she said.

Monday, February 19, 2007

T service on President's Day and ice removal T style

Rob wrote us this morning at
Good luck trying to find out what schedule the MBTA is running today on that fancy new website. At least the old site would have said up top.

Took awhile for me to find it, it was in the news section

Presidents' Day Service Schedule - Monday, February 19

Start Date: 02/12/2007 End Date: 02/20/2007 Email:

Today, the MBTA announced its service schedule for Presidents’ Day, Monday, February 19, 2007. The operations schedule is as follows:

· Blue, Orange, and red Line trains, Green Line streetcars will operate on a Saturday schedule.

· Buses and trackless trolleys will operate on a Saturday schedule. Please Note: Express bus service on the following routes will operate on a modified schedule: 325, 326, 352, 354, 355, 501, 502, 504.

· Commuter rail trains will operate on a Saturday schedule.

· Hingham, Quincy and Hull commuter boat service will operate on a regular weekday schedule.

· Inner Harbor Ferry Service – Charlestown to Long Wharf will operate on a regular weekday schedule.

· THE RIDE will operate on a Saturday schedule.

For more information on routes, schedules, and fares, please call the MBTA Customer Service Center at 617-222-3200 or 1-800-392-6100 (hearing impaired TDD 617-222-5146). Also, you can visit us on-line at

Adam over at has a link showing how well the T removed snow and ice in Roslindale Square

Boston requires property owners to clear the sidewalks in front of their property. Naturally, the law doesn't apply to public authorities, such as the MBTA, which maybe is why one entire side of Belgrade Avenue in Roslindale Square (from South Street to Corinth Street) is covered in ice - it's next to the T's Roslindale Village commuter-rail stop. They couldn't even be bothered to clear away the ice at the bus stop where seven different lines are supposed to pick up and discharge passengers (that's the retaining wall for the train station parking lot next to the sidewalk). Picture taken Sunday afternoon, several days after the nor'icester.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

NYC Transit screws up bigtime

Transit riders in Queens are not having a fun weekend and NYC Transit made matters even worse by giving riders bad information on alternate routes as the 7 Flushing line is shutdown for repairs every weekend for the next 5 weeks. Even the T would be hard pressed to screw things up this badly.

Daily News Editorial - Stranding straphangers

Brochures placed in stations advised riders heading to Grand Central station today to take the E train to 53rd St./Lexington Ave. - and then an uptown No. 6 train to the historic hub. Grand Central is to the south, on 42nd St.
Posters placed in stations featured an abridged map showing the R train stopping at Grand Central. Not in this world.

The bad advice also could be found on the MTA's Web site

Freezing No. 7 riders say th-th-thanks, MTA After a long day of busing tables at a Manhattan restaurant, Gabriel Cambos could hardly wait early yesterday to hop onto the No. 7 train and head back to his Full Story

more on CharlieCards, Fare Vending Machines and the Framingham-Worcester line

other items of note from Mac Daniel's weekly commuter column in the Globe
Registration plan
"When CharlieCards first came out, [this column] reported that we would be able to register our card with the T so if we lost the card, it could be canceled," wrote Joan of Jamaica Plain. "I didn't find a place to do that on the MBTA website and e - mailed the T, got a standard reply e - mail and haven't heard from them since. Do you have any news on this?"

We do. As part of the second phase of the CharlieCard rollout this spring (T folks were vague on the exact month), registration of CharlieCards will begin, along with the ability to store value on a CharlieCard via the Internet.

In addition, T officials said this week that based on customer complaints, they also plan to clarify the language on the screens of fare vending machines this spring.

We took the T to task a while back about the screen term "Stored Value," prodding them to add the words "Bus/Subway" to make it clear to customers what button they need to press to buy a bus or subway ticket.
It is good to see the T now plans to improve the start menu on the FVM's which has been talked about often here. We also noted a couple of days ago they now have fare charts on the machines. So it appears the T is listening to us at least a little.

As far as the registration of CharlieCards I personally don't expect to see that available until the Commuter Rail is converted but this is simply a guess from me.

Daniel also had news for the Framingham-Worcester passengers
The CSX zone
There's good news for commuter rail riders on the bad news Framingham-Worcester line.

Currently, from Back Bay to Worcester, Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad trains are under the control of dispatchers in Selkirk, N.Y., because freight giant CSX controls the rails not only for its trains, but also for the commuter trains.

Train crews are required to maintain radio contact with CSX dispatchers, not commuter rail dispatchers. This means that between Back Bay and Worcester, the trains are off the local grid.

Dispatchers for Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad, the company that runs commuter trains for the MBTA, have had no idea where the trains were.

That changed Jan. 25, when the commuter rail dispatchers finally got a CSX computer display of train positions on the line.

"For the very first time ever -- ever! -- we can see where our trains go," said Steve Jones, deputy director of railroad operations for the MBTA, whose job is to oversee commuter rail service.

Jones said the new display isn't a cure-all for the line, which is the most delayed commuter line, but it will help.

"This is significant only in that we can see the train and its location," Jones said. "We can't do anything about it, we may not know why it's late but we can tell how it's operating."
Now it appears we know the answer on why the T never updated passengers on the Framingham-Worcester line about late trains as they admit they didn't know where they were. The harsh reality of that line is if the T misses a slot that is assigned CSX will put a freight train on the tracks and couldn't care less about the MBTA's passengers. Strange things happen on the tracks west of Framingham and the T is powerless to do anything about it once they miss their slot. Of course WHY the T's misses their assigned slot is another matter entirely.

Charlie's Mailbag - February 18th

catching up on reader mail at

I was sent a link where you can view the new Blue Line cars being tested on the Orange Line

Bruce from Cambridge has a GOOD customer service story

Last Thursday I tried to add $5.00 to my senior card on the #1 bus and the driver was very helpful but the farebox did not add the value to the card. The driver gave me his route number, badge number and the farebox number and a phone number to call the T. He was very nice and was sorry it happened.

I called the T and the person on the phone says "We owe you $5.00. If you were here I could add the $5 to your card but I will send you a check. They cut the checks on Friday and with luck this will get to them on time."

I am happy to report that in Saturday's mail a check for $5 from the MBTA arrived in my mailbox
Thanks Bruce for letting us know. Tip of the hat to the T on making things right quickly.

Wendy has a couple of gripes

Hey, I really like your blog!

I have a general complaint. It's basically about the employees of the MBTA.
I'm sure all they hear day in and day out are complaints and whining, but I
really can't stand it when they show absolutely no sympathy, or even
contempt, when you ask them a legitimate question. It's like they can't be
bothered, or "hey, I'm underpaid and overworked, don't bother me!". Well,
we are all underpaid and overworked.

My very specific complaint is this: I work at the Garden for all the Bruins
games. I get out of the place about 15 minutes after the game is over and
walk over to the North Station T stop to take the trolley two stops to
Lechmere. I can't tell you how many times I've waited 10-15 minutes for a
trolley that's going all the way through to Lechmere. There's plenty of
trolleys coming by, but North Station is their last stop. Why can't they go
two more stops? Especially when it's after 10pm. Don't they plan for events
at the Garden and the extra riders? I'm a woman and I'd like to get to my
car as early as possible so late at night. I don't understand the reasoning
of stopping two stops short of the end, letting everyone off and turning
around, when they can just go two more stops.

I am showing my age here but when I was a kid I used to leave Bruins games for Lechmere and you never had to wait more than 3-5 minutes for a trolley. The T always put extra cars on duty to handle the post game crowd.

The T has never adjusted to the fact that far more people use the Lechmere branch than ever before in the history of the line. On weekends the line is heavily used by riders going to the Museum of Science and the CambridgeSide Galleria Mall. In the late 1990's when the T closed the lower level Green Line stop at Canal Street they then did route 2 lines to Lechmere and service was much improved, but when they opened the new Superstation at North Station routing went back to the way it was in 1997. Truth is the T spent a small fortune in building new crossover tracks under Causeway Street and thus feel compelled to use them.

As far as rudeness by T employees? I don't know why but they certainly have more than any other transit system I have been on. In Seattle for example bus drivers are always smiling and cheerful. Even in Philadelphia you don't see the rudeness that SOME T employees have towards customers.

I think we can agree that the vast majority of T workers are good but there are some bad ones out there that the T seems powerless to get rid of.

Matty from Cambridge is not a regular T user

Because of the ice storm and my car being frozen solid to the street I took the T into work on Thursday. I usually drive to work. I almost fell down the stairs at Central because of the ice on the steps. What amazed me was the T had workers there sanding from the bottom up.

Then I had 2 Charlie Tickets each with $1 on them and found there was no way to combine the 2 cards. I was told I had to go to Downtown Crossing to do so. I did so and now have a Charlie Card with $20 on it but there has to be an easier way.

I understand your frustration. At the very least you should be able to put any remaining stored value from a CharlieTicket onto a CharlieCard at a machine.

KMP writes about the faregates

I was thinking to myself that it would likely be only when the fairly
complicated mechanical "Charlie Ticket" handler was broken...

This morning(Friday), I noticed a faregate with the "Smart Cards Only" message.
I looked a bit closer, and saw in small type below that message another
one reading "Terminal 1 Card Reader Jam".

So, in this case (Central, Outbound, center entrance, right-most gate)
it was just the ticket reader was jammed. I only looked, though,
because I was wondering if there might be a clue.
I finally saw a "smart card only" message at Harvard on Saturday evening. There does seem to be a lot of ticket readers out of service the past few weeks.

Oddjob60 has an idea

Since the T can't seem to post service alerts to its website quickly,
it sounds like a job for Web 2.0, specifically a wiki where any user
can post an update (maybe even by email? not sure what a wiki can do
easily, or how susceptible that would then make it to spam).

Do you know of anything out there that already does this?
Not that I know of but it is something worth exploring.

I suspect the T itself maybe having trouble accessing the website during heavy demand times to update information. The server appears to be located off-site from the T in Cambridge. The website issues are a main reason we suggested a "transit camp" to the T and I hope to know more this week.

GLOBE: Arlington Station renovations

Mac Daniel in the Sunday Globe writes about history being found at the Arlington subway stop on the Green Line something we wrote about 2 months ago

New find sheds light on an old T stop

Many riders were excited about the mosaics being found but enjoy them while you can.
Arlington station on the Green Line is undergoing its fourth renovation since its tunnel was first dug in 1913. In the current construction chaos, a piece of the past was recently uncovered. A tip of the hat to Jonathan of Back Bay, who pointed this out via e-mail.

"Sections of paneling on the platform were recently removed," he wrote, "revealing mosaic tiles that spell out the station name and seem to frame slots for old ads in a couple of places. It looks like workers are just running pipes and plan to cover the whole thing back up. Do you know if that's the case? It seems a shame to erase a piece of history like that at one of the T's oldest stations."

It's true. Lining the station walls between Berkeley and Arlington streets, the original black and white mosaic tiles have reappeared, harking back to simpler days before CharlieCards and heck, even Charlie on the MTA.

"We had no idea it was back there," project manager Winifred A. Stopps of the architectural firm Leers Weinzapfel Associates , said of the mosaic.

The tunnel at Arlington was built in 1913, but the station stop was not constructed until 1920. When it debuted, the walls were lined with the tiles, with advertising panels spread throughout the station and beautifully lettered station names. No old ads were found in the now-blank spaces, Stopps said.

Still, "They had even more advertising then than they do now," she said.

There's no anti-Warren Harding graffiti, and some of the tiles have been badly damaged by prior renovations.

Despite the find, once the station project is done, the old mosaic tiles will be covered up again, as Jonathan suspected, replaced by some of the enamel-on-porcelain pictures that lined the walls before the project began.

"We're trying to bring up some of the layers of history in Arlington station," Stopps said, adding that one of the old mosaic signs near the Arlington Street entrance might be saved.

MIGHT BE SAVED?????????? This should be a no brainer but.........

I can remember the mosaic tiles at many stations years ago. They included Harvard, Central, Kendall, Park St Under, Downtown Crossing as Washington - Summer - Winter, South Station Under, Broadway, Andrew, Symphony, Mechanics (now Prudential) and I'm sure there were others. A few have been restored and I would *hope* the same happens to Arlington.