Just when you thought the MBTA

couldn't get any lazier, consider this "E"xcuse alert from earlier tonight:

Green Line E branch experiencing minor delays due to technical problem

Affected stops:
Lechmere Station
Science Park Station
North Station
Haymarket Station
Government Center Station

Last updated: Dec 9 2013 7:39 PM

Technical problem - yep that's really informing the passengers. I'm sure glad the T has spent so much money on this "improved" alert system so we can know exactly what's going on and how it will exactly affect people's commutes.



    Free tagging: 


    How can a mass transit system

    How can a mass transit system get away falling short of opening a dialogue of what is actually wrong with the system at that particular time? They come off as if a baby's crying, and they don't have any idea why. Could it need to be changed? Is it hungry? Where's its pacifier? Why is it crying? Sometimes the answers to these questions can be simple - maybe a part of the train's utility is fried, or there's a tree down - but much like local politics, the real answer is never really addressed. Out of all the diverse issues we face in the city, I think that a lot of people can actually agree on one thing - that the T needs to be overhauled down to the writing.


    Never understood the schedule

    Never understood the schedule adjustment thing. If the train is at the station and it's good to go, why should it be waiting for the appropriate time to leave? It's not as if anyone is tryng to catch the 8:15 to Alewife. That's not how it works!


    This doesn't make their performance records look any better. They don't adjust their On Time Performance data for any reason, if the train is late for a technical problem, then its still late and it still shows up in their performance measures as such. I'm really not sure what this comment is trying to say.

    As to the entire post: there are literally tens of thousands of moving parts on each train. If you really can't be satisfied with being told that there's a "technical problem" being worked on then you're going to need to read a few thousand pages on each of the T's various vehicles in order to understand each alert. Unless you already know what the brake interlocking bypass is and how its functionality may affect a train. And even if you do know, what would you do with that information? Would you really feel any better? Yeah, sometimes "technical problems" means door issues, I'm sure other times it means power issues, communication issues, or a million other possible problems, but the technical explanations of these things don't really mean anything or matter to anyone (except you apparently), and it doesn't seem like a big enough deal to keep whining about.

    By The Way: The delay in question here actually wasn't a technical problem, Cambridge Police were in North Station looking for someone. This is also the standard language for police searches, as a way of alerting customers of delays without alerting the suspect that they know where he is and are looking there. Should they have sent out an alert actually saying that, you bet the guy they were looking for would have been out of the station in seconds.

    Its usually done to maintain

    Its usually done to maintain the proper headway between trains. It is a tool to try and balance the loads better. As an example, if trains are supposed to run every 8 minutes, but one is running early so that there is now only a 6 minute gap between it and the previous train, but a 10 minute gap between it and the next train; the train running early will be held 2 minutes to get the 10 minute gap until the next train back down to 8. The loads on the following train would become heavier if it had to fill a 10-minute gap vs. the planned for 8-minute gap.


    However, it's often the case

    However, it's often the case that an "early" train is running with a smaller forward headway in the first place because the train in front of it is overcrowded and suffering from high dwell time. Therefore, holding the train to "restore the gap" only exacerbates the crowding problem up ahead of the heavily loaded train. This is why the more typical approach is to "express" the front train rather than hold the rear. This isn't ideal either, but at least limits the problem to the few stations that get skipped, rather than the entire remainder of the line. Schedule adjustments should be saved for control points like the termini, where they will affect few or no riders' trips.

    On the Red Line, where trains

    On the Red Line, where trains from Braintree and Ashmont northbound merge after JFK/U Mass, it has been known for trains to arrive early and get too close to the proceeding train from the other branch that is running on time. Shorter than scheduled headways between trains are not always because the first train is running late and has a higher than average load. In the case of a train running early behind one that is on time, the next train behind the early one could get a higher than average load if the early train is not held to restore headway.