MBTA blames Boston's northerly location for today's Red Line problem

More specifically, NECN reports, the T is blaming cold weather for the third-rail problem that waylaid Red Line commuters from the south this morning.

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    Really. REALLY?? (in Seth

    Really. REALLY?? (in Seth Myers/Amy Poehler SNL voice)

    Is management really so dense that they think a "cold weather" excuse is going to fly with commuters on December 11?? They can't even get their PR right!!

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    Everyday Storming of Fare Gates

    At the unattended inbound entrance to Kendall/MIT, there's always a steady stream of passengers who enter without paying. The loud noise the gates make when this happens is apparently ignored by Ⓣ personnel, to the irritation of those of us who do pay our fares.

    I've witnessed numerous cases

    where the "didn't pay your fare" screeching from the faregates occurs even though people pay their fare. So it doesn't surprise me at all that the personnel tend to ignore these alarms.

    Perhaps we need to re-think the whole concept of automated fare collection - a system that has saddled the MBTA with even more debt and, by design, has increased and actually encourages fare evasion.

    I have also had this happen

    I have also had this happen to me personally at that station. I have a monthly pass but it still buzzed at me.

    Perhaps we need to re-think the whole concept of automated fare collection - a system that has saddled the MBTA with even more debt and, by design, has increased and actually encourages fare evasion.

    +million.

    People who make comments like Elmer's seem to think that the T is some kind of morality play. They'll sacrifice everything if it means 1 person doesn't slip through the cracks. Really sickening. The T is supposed to be a transportation service, not some kind of morality test to see who pays fares and who doesn't. In a real transportation system, it's acknowledged that nothing is perfect, some people will get through, and that small amounts of fare evasion are acceptable. What's important is that the trains keep running, on-time and reliably. If fare evasion becomes a problem then you identify the least intrusive, most cost-effective, most practical way to bring the percentage down.

    This is the opposite strategy from the T, and the hysterical riders who goad them. The T winds up delaying trains, spending MORE money than they recover, and collectively punishing the rest of the riders who are just trying to get somewhere.

    Fare Gate False Alarms - Gasoline

    Yes, I've occasionally heard the alarm sound in error, but it's usually when the passenger is carrying shopping bags, doesn't walk through the gate smoothly, or else during the period when a train is in the station and a passenger rushing to catch it mis-taps their pass before the gate closes from an exiting passenger.

    When people loiter outside the fare gate and then piggyback after someone with a valid pass, it's pretty obvious what's going on; the gate's protest is not a false alarm. This happens on a regular basis; the violators know they'll always get away with it.

    On one occasion, a person triggering the gate alarm was carrying a large red tank of gasoline. I walked up and told the train operator because I thought that might be the sort of hazard we're told to "Say Something" about. It was the height of rush hour, and the operator didn't want to delay the train, but did radio ahead about the situation. At Charles/MGH, an inspector was waiting for the train and apparently looked through a couple of cars where I had initially told the operator I thought the person had entered. I don't know what happened after that, but was glad the train proceeded on to Park Street without further delay.

    Perhaps this person was just trying to get back to a car that had run out of gas; maybe they didn't have a Ⓣ pass or even the money to pay for a single ride. When it becomes common knowledge that are places where anyone can get into the system without paying; and without question by station personnel; then it becomes a vulnerable target for someone who really did want to set a packed train on fire.

    Better monitoring at the fare gates would reduce many other problems within the Ⓣ, it's foolish for the fare gate alarms to be totally ignored. Unfortunately, the glamorous and efficient fare lobby below is not our Red Line, it's actually on the Green Line...
    IMAGE(http://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/lasalle.jpg)

    I would estimate that it

    I would estimate that it costs $100/hour to station another person to watch fare gates (salary, benefits, etc).

    Do you really think that they are going to catch $100/hour worth of fare evasion every day? And do you expect that idiots carrying gas canisters will always evade the fare?

    I don't think so. I might call your strategy "penny wise and pound foolish" but I don't even think it's penny wise.

    The strategy for dealing with fare evasion is:

    First, do no harm to the paying customers -- don't delay trains or buses

    Second, use cost-effective means -- don't spend more money chasing fare evasion than you'll get in return. We want positive expected value!

    Third, quantify your results -- are you being effective, or are you just staging a morality play?

    Typically, a strategy will be to employ a roving inspector or two to crack down on "hot spots."

    1) They don't interfere with the operation of the transit system.
    2) It's only a few people, so it's cheap compared to wide deployment. If they go to "hot spots" then they'll always be making money for the T, not losing money.
    3) They can be sent to the spots identified through camera systems or other personnel in passing. We have amazing data resources nowadays, use them!

    OTOH, if they

    put unifomed officers in every station, that would both discourage fare evasion AND improve overall security in the system. Plus, it would greatly reduce response time to reported incidents, minimizing delays to trains (and the customers who use them).

    Plus, it would greatly reduce the need to operate and maintain a large fleet of police cruisers and motorcycles.

    Sadly, the T police seem nore intent on collecting evidence to capture suspected criminals (i.e. mostly unmonitored camera systems) than they are in taking reasonable measures to discourage crime from happening in the first place.

    How much would that cost?

    Adding at least one, if not two or more (especially to disconnected sides) officers per station sounds extremely expensive. They would probably end up kicking around, or dozing off, most of the time like the current staff.

    Do you add officers to every platform? The "B" line platforms? Bus stops? Where does it end?

    I don't think this makes much sense. You have a limited budget, and you deploy officers where they'll do the most good. And yes, you use cameras to find out. The point of technology is to make it possible for a staff of fewer people to be more productive than a larger staff was in the past. That's how it works in every other industry.

    More like Kaprielian

    Oh. I actually smiled when I read the subject line before coffee. After which I noticed it was stupid. But it did make me go find out where Al is now - still squealing out those highs on WBIN in Derry!

    Cause vs. Contributing Factor

    A cold ambient can change material properties. It can cause metal to contract, critical physical dimensions to change, things to crack, water to freeze, etc. Plain and simple.

    HOWEVER, were the problems that they have been experiencing in the mornings lately occurring years ago when the T first installed their third rail, their switching equipment, when the current track was installed, etc.? Not likely. Was it just as cold in the winter years ago? Certainly. So the T's equipment has aged and degraded over time. No surprise. Put that fact together with the cold and now you've got a problem.

    So that means that the cold is more appropriately labeled, as they have stated in the NECN piece,"a contributing factor" rather than the cause, as the UH bit states.

    This isn't going to make anyone stuck in Braintree feel any better though. (I feel for you folks.) Definitely something that needs to get fixed by the T because global warming isn't happening fast enough to fix this naturally.

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    One problem

    It wasn't that cold. 24 F low temp is not that cold by January standards, not for December, even.

    There are plenty of grades of steel with appropriate ductile-to-brittle transition temps for this climate. Yes, there is aging .. but I also wonder if somebody didn't weld things properly (used the wrong alloy) or some other inappropriate material selection problem.