Green Line ghastlier than usual

UPDATE: An overhead wire became an underfoot wire on the Riverside line around 9:30 p.m., leading to busing, passengers being forced to evacuate trolleys to walk back to stations, etc.

Maybe the trains just couldn't bear all the weight of soccer fans heading to Fenway. Or the anguished ghosts of riders past were reaching up and grabbing the wheels of the trains. Whatever, Perry reports:

Wow! It took 3 green line trains and 90 minutes from govt ctr to kenmore! Way to suck, MBTA.

Officials at Govt Ctr tell you to go to Park to catch a D train and the 1st D train is packed from Govt Ctr.

Megan Mix adds:

At Kenmore, have been trying to make my way home from park st for over an hour. Get your act together MBTA or I'm finding a new city.



Free tagging: 


As long as we have a management that

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bases key operating and capital decisions on factors like "(insert almost any MBTA "capital" improvement here) is unnecessary, but we'll do it because (insert any government agency here) is paying for it", the frequency and quality of the actual transportation service the MBTA is supposed to be providing to the public will continue to deteriorate.

And if you don't agree, stop and think for a minute about the additional trips that the MBTA could run on the Green Line during rush hour (or after a Sox game) with the $500K they propose to spend on the "buy your fare with your phone" app - after they spend who knows how much on the "necessary" focus groups (perhaps the question the media should be asking is - do they really need a focus group to enable riders to buy fares with a phone?).

They do actually have the equipment available(40 extra streetcars sitting idle at Riverside), but they don't want to staff them because of the tired-old 1980s business school mantra that "more labor is evil and is to be avoided at all costs (no pun intended)."

Carmen's Union is actually

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Carmen's Union is actually indirectly responsible for blocking signal priority and upgrades in the central subway. The number of trips allowed per shift is limited by work rules. Staffing rules also make sure plenty of lucrative overtime is available to those that want it, even if would more sense from a financial, logistics, and safety standpoint to have more full time people on staff.

Upgrading the ancient signal system and providing signal priority at street running segments of the green line would do more to improve service than anything. Right now the service is provided at a level WORSE than it was in the 1940s because of self inflicted bottlenecks.

Could you provide some

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Could you provide some background or cites on how the carmen's union has blocked signal improvements? This is the first time I've heard that explanation.

Is it as simple as "a faster Green Line would mean more round trips in a shift, which the contract doesn't allow, so we won't bother speeding up the line"?

If the union is so powerful, how did the T eliminate all the Red Line conductor positions a few months ago, without any visible protests?

It would mean more round trips

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Although I'm not sure if that's what he was referring to.

But I just wanted to point out that the Red Line conductors were all shifted into cushier attendant jobs. Not eliminated.

More round trips is the

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More round trips is the correct answer. There is not point in signal priority to make trolleys run faster if the total number of runs is already capped per operator per shift without getting into overtime.

This is why the MBTA rejected the idea even when Brookline offered to install the signal equipment at no expense to the agency.

I'll just comment on the

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I'll just comment on the mobile ticketing app focus groups you are deriding: I was at one of the three sessions held last week, and yes, usability testing for smartphone apps is a smart idea. The cost for each session is a sandwich platter for the participants.

Perhaps the question that should have been asked is, "Why was the same kind of testing apparently not done with the Charlie fareboxes that were introduced five years ago, regarding their coin slots and ticket and bill acceptance problems?".

Actually, there was. Several

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Actually, there was. Several buses operated on the 749 (Silver Line Washington) circa 2005-2006 had demo fareboxes installed. And runtimes subsequently fell through the floor.

Holy god you are pretentious.

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I work for the T too, there is no point in using 749 instead of SL5 or Silver Line Washington Street to make it seem like you know what you're talking about. Really dude, knowing a few internal numbers does not make you an expert on how the MBTA runs.


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If I came off as pretentious, my apologies. Frankly, I'm just used to calling the SL5 the 749. Force of habit. My ego is not so easily bruised that I must "show off" to make my comments/opinions seem more legitimate.

Must've been a slow day in troll-land.

P.S. I am not employed by the MBTA. I already have a great job on the West End!

So, here's an idea for T management.

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Develop a system, put it out to the public on a trial basis, and then solicit feedback from the users.

That's pretty much the way private industry adopts new products or services.

They *are* doing a trial run

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They *are* doing a trial run of the smartphone ticketing.

And where did you get the $500k figure? I heard the T is spending nothing up front, and instead will pay a small percentage of ticket sales to the vendor.

Or express trains to Fenway

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Or express trains to Fenway should be subsidized by the respective sports teams.

Ahhh, the Miserable Green Line!

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Now I remember why I usually ride my bike to work. Ashmont to Brookline can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on level of dysfunction on the Green Line. The bike is 35 minutes. I could change a flat tire, stop for a coffee, go grocery shopping and get still get home faster than taking the train when its running at its usual piss-poor level of service.

Don't be Tardy, bike to work!

Please do.

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The less hipster bike riding idiots on my T, the happier I am.

you guys,

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if you ride a bicycle, you are a hipster. so glad we got that out of the way, this thread can really get going now.

Not excusing management, but

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the union loves being short staffed rather than hiring more people. Means more O.T. You see the same thing in other agencies and departments like police.

The MBTA is officially broken in my book. Stock aside from buses are old and falling apart, Trains and streetcars move at a glacial pace. CHRONIC daily breakdowns, massive delays. A serious management problem. A serious employee problem. A serious union problem. Record ridership, but service cuts, poor maintenance and fair increases. The current 'rapid' [LOL] transit lines are inadequate for modern 21st century metro Boston, but any logical and needed expansions will occur at a glacial pace if at all.

As for the green line specifically: It's a lost cause. Streetcars with street level stops are inadequate for the population density and volume of use. Imagine the red, orange or blue lines being streetcars instead of heavy rail? That's what the green line is, and it's a daily disaster.

The other 3 lines work OK and can be fixed/improved, the green line can't. Buses actually work fine IMHO.

Elevate or bury heavy rail Green replacement!

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MBTA stats I read showed heavy rail subway line cars go 30,000 miles between failure. Light rail Green cars 3,000 mi. Heavy duty rail like red, blue, and orange are needed with fewer stops and not at grade contending with cross streets. This is exactly why elevated subway lines were built - better service for more passengers. Too much is asked of green line cars designed for lighter demands. Poor maintenance isn't the problem.

Here's an idea

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Turn Lechmere-Kenmore into heavy rail, cars could be about the same size as the Blue Line cars. The Riverside branch would also be converted You could also turn the E into heavy rail to Brigham Circle, if anyone was willing to put significant investment in car tunnels on Huntington Ave, but that would not happen. If it isn't converted, you could convert the two underground stations (Prudential and Symphony) and have short turns go there, and abandon the rest of the line, which would require service on the 39 to double, and probably be extended to Downtown Crossing (it could share the Silver Line's terminal). B and C line service would remain as trolleys and terminate at Kenmore, the transfer to the heavy rail Green Line would be free. Service could run as:
Lechmere (or Government Center, Park Street etc)-Riverside

However, with the incredible amount of construction involved in this, the years long shut down of the Green Line that this would require, it's basically impossible.

Elevated=bad theory

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Somewhere along the way, the idea arose that anything "elevated" was bad. Orange line, Central Artery, etc. We had to get rid of all "elevated" things and replace them with "green space".

"elevated" = "ugly"

It blocks the streetscape, blocks out light, and cuts neighborhoods off from each other. Merchants also suffer as their storefronts are hidden from the eyes of pedestrians and passing vehicles, reducing foot traffic. Residential tenants on the upper floors of mixed-use buildings have to suffer with train noise.

Cities built elevateds early on because building an elevated structure was cheaper than tunnel construction, and because you could use steam locomotives on elevated tracks, which you couldn't do in a tunnel. Only after the structures had been in place for many decades did the liabilities become evident.

To be fair

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Most people have the image of the old fashioned elevated train when they think of that. They didn't have modern construction techniques and materials when building those in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Newer ones are a lot less obtrusive. They can have a fairly light footprint because 2 tracks is less width than 2 lanes, making it much less of a barrier. Honolulu is going to be building a new elevated, for example.

But even despite the old 19th century construction, I think you overestimate the negative impacts. Certainly, the noise and the shadow can be problems. But if you go to NYC or Chicago and look at the areas underneath or abutting the elevated, they're often quite busy and vibrant. I'm not sure what you mean by "hidden" from the eyes of passing pedestrians. And the stations generate plenty of foot traffic.

Of course I have zero confidence in the MBTA being able to construct anything decent. And signal priority should be sufficient for the Green Line.

Buses won't work

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They cannot handle the passenger loads the Green Line does (230k riders/weekday). They would be far more expensive per passenger. The Green Line can be fixed; first we have to have management that doesn't purposefully try to break it. But there's plenty examples in the world of light rail running efficiently. We just need to discard our NIH attitude, and learn from them.

Buses would not work.

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Also, yes the union and especially the management do not help things, but at the same time, do not turn this into some sort of "it's entirely the union's fault", when it is CLEARLY not. Everyone from the union to the state and federal governments are culpable here.

Politics and patronage are at work here, folks.

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Sure, there's graft and patronage everywhere, but Massachusetts, particularly Boston, seems to specialize in it. That's what's behind all this mess.

The MBTA's Green Line has historically had a reputation for being one of the worst, if not the worst, and it seems to be getting worse, not better.

Have you traveled or lived in other cities, states, countries?

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Where there's opportunity for it, graft and corruption exists. Boston is no better or worse than other places in America, and it's better than 99% of the 3rd world.

Example: Some people like claim southern states are less corrupt, Texas is less corrupt, than the evil northeast. This is completely untrue. Another example is some people will compare Boston or another big city to a state or place with a much smaller population, economy, etc. like comparing say Massachusetts to New Hampshire or Maine. These people will claim Massachusetts and Boston are far more corrupt than New Hampshire and Maine. The reality is Massachusetts and Boston, because of their much larger population and economic size, simply produces more opportunity for corruption. And the irony with some people in NH with this attitude is NH needs Massachusetts for jobs, consumers and just plain people more-so than the other way around. MANY NH people work in Eastern MA/Boston!

Grumbling on the green line

Took 40 minutes to go from Boylston to Kenmore only to have the train be taken out of service, and have shuttle buses "wait" for us. If your reading this and need to get anywhere in between kenmore-reservoir or kenmore-south st I suggest you take the c line and walk a little bit.

Like I said last week

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Sometimes you can out-walk the greenline from Kenmore to Packards corner.


Walked from Park St to Packard's Corner

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Took about an hour. 30 minutes less than the Govt Center-to-Kenmore ride detailed above. Something is very wrong with this picture (unless, of course, the MBTA wishes to be at the forefront of combating the obesity epidemic...)


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The Green Line is solvable if we actually had the political will and money to do it:

3 car trains on all branches
New signaling system in the central subway
Signal priority at intersections (I love how Boston says there is "too much traffic" for that. That's exactly WHY you do it!)
Remove street-level stops that are too close together
Boarding through all doors at all street-level stops w/ CharlieCard at all times (put CharlieCard readers by side doors). Cash and CharlieTicket must use front door.

Did Boston really say there's

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Did Boston really say there's too much traffic to allow transit signal priority?

I didn't think they said anything at all on the subject.


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What little response I've been able to scrounge up is, at second-hand, that

BTD is interested in maintaining the flow of vehicular traffic, especially during peak times

And nothing about why that should be prioritized over maintaining the flow of the highest ridership Green Line branch (estimated at 30,600 boardings/day last source I checked).

Where is that quote from? The

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Where is that quote from?

The lights on Comm Ave aren't really optimized for anything right now, except generalized stupidity.