Report from the MBTA Sweat Fest 2012

Sure, there were hot trains and stinky people on the Red Line, and no doubt some Blue Line cars had the AC cranked up too high, but for sheer misery, nothing beat the Green and Orange Lines this evening: Dead trains, one rider who wanted to be dead and wandered onto the tracks, Red Sox fans, that single-door policy above ground and, oh, yeah, stations that appeared to stretch straight down to Hades. Herewith a report from what Alison Preston Baldyga dubbed the MBTA Sweat Fest 2012:

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Right On, Matthew

If all of the folks who sent the messages that basically evaporate into the ether a few minutes later would take the time to write an actual f***ing letter, they might not only get what they desire but, if they didn't, they would have a much more legitimate reason to beef about the hideousness.

Cranky Old Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

Anger dissipates quickly

Unlikely people will do much more than just complain online and move on ... although we wish they would.

The front-door policy HAS GOT TO GOOOOO. It caused a chain of events for me on the train today which culminated with me accidentally knocking a guy's iPod out of his hands and onto the floor of the car.

But I finally got out of the car!

Front Door Has to Go

I fully understand the point of the front door policy but there is a much better way to go about it. Only allow people to enter via the front door, but let people out the back doors. Buses do this all the time.

The drivers have mirrors that let them look down the length of the outside of the train when the doors are open. They can readily spot anyone entering a back door and announce they must get off or come up and pay. By not moving until the offender complies they would also get rider participation [from those who had paid] urging that person to do the right thing.

At certain busy, above ground stops during rush hour if they think fare evasion is that big an issue they can have some of those inspectors get out of their SUVs and stand by the back door with either a fare reader or to bar entry. For instance on the B line such an inspector would likely only be needed at one stop, Harvard Ave.

This is essentially what they were supposed to be doing before the front door policy took effect. But lazy or non-confrontational drivers rarely enforced the no entry via rear. Especially poor for the rear car driver not to do anything when all they do is sit there and open and close doors while riding along.

Stopping is worse

Besides the fact that you delay 50 people over the actions of 1 (collective punishment), it also costs the MBTA more for every minute the vehicle is delayed.

Fare evasion is just not that big a deal. They've never proven it to be, they refuse to try and gather statistics, and there's just no evidence that it can't be handled through normal methods. Like for example, if they notice a hot spot of evasion, sending some fare inspectors there to hand out the newly increased fines. That pays for itself.

proof of payment

we'd be better off if we went to a proof-of-payment system like they have on lots of systems in Europe. I went to Amsterdam and rode the trams day in and day out and there weren't the ridiculous queues and boarding times you see on the T.

Green Line Worse Than Ever

Somehow I was lucky enough to miss this on the Green Line yesterday (though I did take the B line at about 4:45) but ever since fares went up, my commute home has doubled. There are simply fewer trains running during the evening commute. Whereas I would typically wait about 10 minutes for a train before, now my wait is 20 to 30 minutes for a train that 1) shows up and 2) isn't already packed beyond capacity.

After waiting 30 minutes, if I'm lucky 2 B-Line trains will come by. In those 30 minutes, there are maybe also 1 or 2 trains for each of the other lines as well. Rush hour trains are supposed to run every 6 minutes or so for each line. But that's not happening.

B line becoming like Lechmere

Sounds like the B line trains are becoming as scarce as the rumored-to-exist Lechmere trains. I never could figure out why the T doesn't add a few more Lechmere trains. It doesn't seem like it should be such a big deal.

Increased trip duration

...Leads to blown headways, as vehicles get bunched up on the surface. Probably due to "front door-only" policy. Especially since the T doesn't dynamically schedule turning trains at Gov't Center. Can anyone confirm if this picture is correct?

Hubway could help when GL gets that way.

I agree that the GL is worse than ever, and I'm confident that everyone else does too. Luckily for me, however, I have been delivered from this nightmare, by a job change that now takes me to just outside 128 everyday as opposed to Eastie. Of course, the traffic is horrible (our relatively low unemployment rate is on display every day on 128), but I can ride my bike (relatively safely!) if I choose, and it takes only 5-10 minutes more than it does to drive (it's 10.5 miles - I was shocked at the minor time difference).

But regarding the Green Line, it occurred to me the other week (after trying Hubway for the first time - not as good as the European bike share programs I've used, but not bad either, and the Spotcyle app that shows you where the bikes are works beautifully) that if there were a large Hubway station in Cleveland Circle, and more of them along Comm. Ave. past BU, a lot of people could, and I believe would, avoid the GL. Things will improve on the C line when when the stations come to Brookline as well, but there is no explanation for there not being a station at Cleveland Circle, Boston College, and at various intersections along Comm. Ave (e.g., Washington St.)

I realize that Hubway could remove only a few tens of people at a time, and only for three seasons a year, but until we (the Commonwealth we) are prepared to make the serious sacrifice that is needed to fix the T, we need to consider anything that will help. Nevertheless, there is still no reason why there should not be many more hubway stations right now in the parts of Boston west of Kenmore/BU, and very soon in Brookline (and Cambridge/Somerville - all of which I know is supposed to happen soon).

Drastic Solutions

Yesterday was horrible. After realizing quickly that I would never get on a D train out of Copley, I found the following solutions:

  • Hop on E line, which at least was not so packed that I would have to ride with my face in someone's armpit.
  • Take E line to Riverway
  • Walk in 100 degree heat from Riverway stop to Brookline Village stop
  • Get home 45 minutes later than usual
  • Wake up in dread of the T
  • Calculate costs- $6 dollars to park at T station, $5 dollars for a ride into town and home vs. $2.50 in tolls and $16 dollars to park for the day in Copley
  • Realize that $7.50 is a perfectly reasonable price to pay to not deal with the BS of the MBTA.
  • Drive to work

Kind of sad, really.

NICE

why didn't I think of that? Usually my only desire is to get the hell out of Dodge [Park St, Arlington or Copley] and get at least as far s Kenmore, where the Red Sox fans get off. Then if it's still really crowded on the D, I'll hop on a less crowded Beacon St, go to Cleveland Circle, than walk over to my bus at Reservoir.

Yes, it's sad. We're becoming a 2 or 3rd world country.

You are not alone

Form a carpool and share parking expense - that one really cuts down the costs and the environmental impact, too.

I rode in this morning in an air conditioned luxury car with my husband and three close friends. Sweetness.

(yeah, and I bike to avoid the T, too ... I just wanted to be able to use my lungs again sometime this week. Just one of those "sensitive persons" I guess.)

This was probably one of the worse MBTA commutes

I've ever experienced in a LONG time. TOTAL lack of communication, chaos. I understand the extreme heat can cause problems, but c'mon, at 6PM yesterday suddenly the MBTA couldn't find anyone who speaks decent English to explain what was going on and keep passengers up to date? Park St was as bad or worse than it ever gets, I saw almost no transit workers [not that it would matter, I suppose], no public service announcements, NADA, just extreme hear and chaos.

After 1/2 hr managed to squeeze onto a D train, which then move PAINFULLY slowly through the tunnel, finally got above ground, and the front door policy was still in place! WTF, is ANYBODY IN CHARGE at the MBTA? Any decent human being with commonsense? Are they all psychopathic zombies? Not only should have the front door policy been abandoned, they needed to run express trains from Park to at least Kenmore to get the Red Sox people to Fenway. This was a HUGE part of the problem, the Red Sox fans.

Why do we hear NADA from our elected public officials in Boston, Brookline, etc. about this problem and what occurred yesterday? Why isn't Boston City Hall getting it's ass in gear and demanding serious answers and consequences for these continued clusterf*cks?