On a positive note, the third rail is OK

Shortly before the southbound platform was evacuated as well. Photo by Fatty.

UPDATE, 4:45 p.m.: Transit Police report the package has been "cleared"- by an X-ray - which means service can resume soon. But expect "severe" residual delays, the T warns. WBZ reports the object was a duffle bag with wires coming out of it.

Transit Police have evacuated the three Red Line platforms at Park Street due to a suspicious package on an Alewife-bound train there. There is no service in either direction.

John Berg reports the Green Line is still running through Park.

Boston Police arrived to help out with crowd control and to help determine what's in the package.

Park Street passengers are being told buses might be on the way as the T announces "severe" delays on the Red Line for the third day in a row.

All along the line, people sat in stuck trains stuck at stations or standing on platforms, waiting for announcements that didn't come on what was going on.

Katherine Fergason reports from South Station:

Okie dokie. After 40+ minutes waiting on the train at South St, they've had us get off. Announcement: red line is not running.

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

Free tagging: 

Comments

Impact would be everyone

During the Marathon Bomb incident the T was closed - completely. even surface lines were stopped for a short period. All airplanes were grounded, and all bridges were closed. No one in or out. I was stuck north of the city and could not get in at all.

So, the Green Line would be impacted if it were an explosive device. The whole system would have ground to a halt and any and all security camera footage would have been pulled as was the case back in April.

Back in April they ran dog sniffing teams down every tunnel to check for anything before they re-opened the lines.

When I did get back to Boston by train the subways were running - and eerily void of people. Can't say as I blame them but I had no choice.

Had the device proven

to actually be a bomb, then the scenario you describe may well have been put into play

However, I think you missed my point here. We have a suspected explosive device at Park Street. For safety's sake, we'll evacuate the train and two of the three Red Line platforms (the third platform was also evaculated shortly thereafter). Yet, we keep the Green Line portion of the station, which is right above the suspected device, open even though we don't know whether the device is real or not.

This is ridiculous

The T has become a running parody of itself. Blue Line should be due for some dead trains or falling wires any day now. Surprised the Orange Line hasn't straight out died given the "cold" weather. And of course anywhere, anytime is ripe for some "bomb" "scare" security theatre.

up
12

For fucks sake people.

For fucks sake people.

If youre commuting on the T, and you see a "misplaced package" TAKE IT WITH YOU. Now its no longer misplaced and you dont ruin everybody day because someone is absent minded, and our political system is run by idiots.

See something, TAKE SOMETHING

up
50

I'm usually skeptical of security theater, too...

...but just maybe this one was justified. From boston.com:

The Red Line was shut down for 75 minutes as rush hour was beginning Thursday afternoon after a rider reported a suspicious bag on a train at Park Street Station, said MBTA Deputy Chief Kenneth Green.

The MBTA Transit Police called in a bomb squad to examine the duffle bag, which had wires protruding and canisters inside. They determined that the bag was not a bomb and reopened the station at about 4:45 p.m., Green said. It was the second time in two days that the Red Line had been shut down.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/12/12/suspicious-ite...

Unless we want to go off the deep end of assuming TPD is making this all up, that does sound like the kind of suspicious package that gets the full treatment, not the "just pick it up and toss it in the lost & found." Sure it's a mess happening at the start of rush hour when it's barely 20 degrees out, but these things usually don't happen on a 72 degree Sunday evening.

up
11

Serious question

Serious question: Do IEDs in real life have wires sticking out of them? Or only in the cartoons? Did the Tsarnaev brothers' alleged bomb-containing backpacks have anything remarkable about them from the outside? Would an abandoned duffel bag with no remarkable features have elicited such a dramatic response?

And if the bag hadn't been abandoned but had been by a passenger's side or on his shoulder? If the concern was the bag was a bomb, then what if the passenger were a suicide bomber? I mean, you can't be too careful in these dark and scary times in which we live, right?

up
15

So I asked an "expert"

My brother in law is a US Army Captain and has taken the waters at all the finer resorts in Afghanistan. The nickel summary when I asked him: as a general rule, IEDs don't have a lot of wires or other control interfaces sticking out because they're easy to knock loose when burying the devices. However, there are a bunch of different types of IEDs, and new models all the time. A few bomb makers apparently like the classic 'ticking clock' aesthetic as part of their signature style, so while they're not the most common option, they're not unheard of.

This is ridiculous.. children

This is ridiculous.. children and elderly are on the train and stuck here for almost an hour with no heating and all the doors open.. i understand the threat 30 mins from Quincy Center but we are all freezing and getting sick over here waiting.. not to mention no one answering when the emergency buttons pushed..

up
11

The emergency button... that

The emergency button... that connects you to; police, fire department and ambulances. That you (and likely a dozen other people) pushed, because you were feeling chilly and crowded? Frankly, you should be ticketed for abuse of emergency services. Your actions in picking up that phone or pushing that button are akin to the people who call the police when McDonalds runs out of chicken nuggets.

Different button (I think)

I think he means the buttons at the ends of the cars, which ONLY connect you to the train operator. The buttons on the platform connect you to transit police.

But I doubt he was the only one pushing buttons, thus no response from the operator. Morons love to push the button and ask moronic questions when stopped for extended periods of time. Yelling at the operator doesn't make things move. I don't think requesting they close the doors as much as possible while people are exposed to below-freezing elements is out of the question. Maybe you can handle it, but he clearly noted an elderly person was getting blasted by the cold.

No, It Doesn't

No, those emergency buttons do not call the police or anyone else other than the train operator. Of course they shouldn't be used frivolously, but if a train has been sitting for thirty minutes in bitter cold with all the doors open, someone on the train may have had a valid reason to contact the operator. Since neither of us was on the ill-fated train, we can only guess what their reason was.

As if the lack of information

wasn't bad enough, consider this 'banner' announcement on the T's web page:

The Red Line is experiencing severe delays due to a police action at Park Street Station. Customers are encouraged to utilize the Orange and Green Lines where possible.

Now if the Green and Orange Lines actually went in the same direction as the Red Line does, that announcement might make some sense. Oh wait, this is the T. Never mind.

up
25

Possible in some cases

On any given normal day, I have a choice between Red Line and Orange Line, depending on what bus I take. Red to Davis to buses ... or Orange to Sullivan or Wellington or Malden to buses.

The same situation exists for people who live along bus routes that run from Sullivan to Davis, Central, or Kendall stations and Davis or Harvard to Lechmere, as well as from Green Line stations to Central Square, Cambridge.

In an extreme situation, I could even take Green Line to Hynes to Bus #1 to Bus #96. Or Orange Line to Mass Ave., etc.

So, "where possible" is a fair thing to say for those who live where buses crosslink the system.

up
11

Wait a second

Aren't you constantly whining, bitching and moaning whenever you have some reason to drive through any small part of Somerville other than I-93?

Can't you possibly imagine in all your impotent driver rage at congestion and narrow roads that maybe, just maybe, the buses aren't a very efficient way to get anywhere?

Please move elsewhere if you can't cope with the notion that the only sensible way to improve movement of PEOPLE through antique cities is to utilize a train right of way that already exists.

up
20

Non Sequitur

How did your post come from one on redundancy? Seems like it was only intended as personal attack.

Still waiting for all the new housing and other "smart development" resulting from the red line stops created at Davis and Porter 25+ years ago. Alewife got developed, but that's only because it also had vital major roadway access.

What????? Are you saying that

What????? Are you saying that the Red Line extension through Porter Square and Davis Square have not positively transformed those neighborhoods residentially and economically?? Are you serious?

And where are you getting redundancy from? The Red Line is nowhere near Brickbottom, Gilman Square, Ball Square. It's not really even walkable from Union Square for that matter.

up
13

Yes, property owners were greatly enriched with tax dollars

My point is that very little in the way of high density and affordable housing, along with close by employment per "smart growth" has taken place in Davis and Porter compared to Alewife which has many more 4+ lane roads nearby. Building hi-rise buildings near subway stations would give more people the benefits of living and/or working close to a station, but Cambridge and Somerville residents haven't fully swallowed the "smart growth" kool aide and allowed taller buildings.

Just got off the bus

Just got off the 111, and heard as I was getting off (about at 443pm) over the operators radio that they are requiring shuttle buses.. something about Broadway Station. Not sure if its related or not.. but they said they still needed drivers who were 'going on a long break' or 'going off route'

Service Resuming Shortly

as the T has sent this informative message:

All Clear (re: Shuttle buses replacing Red Line service between Kendall and Broadway Station. Please expect delays while buses are sent. )

Last updated: Dec 12 2013 4:44 PM

You know what would have been

You know what would have been SUPER helpful times like this?

ACTUALLY HAVING AN EMPLOYEE AT STATIONS.

I walked to Kendall like I always do this afternoon, to find the street full of confused people all asking each other what's going on, and once you fight your way through the wall-to-wall people down the stairs, and through the faregates, there's no sign that anything is amiss apart from the countdown sign being blank and all the confused people - on and then the Alewife train that suddenly shows up.

Not a T employee or a bus to be seen. But then I get a T Alert announcing busing, so I joined the hordes of people trudging across the Longfellow, and actually made my commuter train earlier than I have all week. Apparently walking the 2.5 miles from my office to North Station is faster than the T.

That's sad. This transit agency is sad. It's a shadow of what it could be if managed properly.

I don't see why people aren't rioting in front of the state house, demanding Bev Scott's head on a pike.

up
26

While I agree..

While I agree with 99% of your comment, having Beverly Scott's head on a spike wouldn't solve much of anything. The issues with the T run far deeper than just Beverly Scott. Its just one big dysfunctional mess.

When I first moved here many years ago.. my local friends used to talk about politicians/new GMs who might 'fix' the T. And when I asked what the problem was and why it didn't need to be 'fixed' and no one could exactly tell me why, except that it was just was broken and needed to be fixed. Many years later, I totally understand now. Its not just one thing, its a lot of things....

up
15

And while I agree with much of what you say

The MBTA has terrible PR and, as someone pointed out on twitter this week, almost no social media presence. I don't really care if she's not out there inspecting rails or engineering the choo-choo, Beverly Scott needs to get her ass in front of the public and start showing us that she's the GM.

Other than a brief blurb yesterday about inspecting the rails on the Red and Orange Line, there has been radio silence from the office of the GM. Maybe she's not up to the job and wondering where it all went horribly awry. Maybe she's working on plans and re-engineering the entire system herself. Either way, she needs to get her face on my tv and my internets and be the leader she's supposed to be.

I'm not expecting anything more than a vague, dull statement from her. I don't care what she says, really, I just want to see her publicly acknowledge that there are problems.

up
22

If this were a French Toast Alert...

If this was a blizzard, a snow storm or even a low-level French Toast Alert, Deval Patrick's name would show up somewhere. Portrayed as being aware, on top of, or something or other, about the possibility of incoming flakes.

We do have a governor, he is responsible for the MBTA. Let's hold him accountable the same way the mayor of Boston is held to account for plowing the streets.

up
13

The Bev Scott comment was

The Bev Scott comment was more symbolic rather than literal - I have no ill will towards her as a person, and have heard she's actually a very kind woman, and I don't actually want to see her head on a pike. It was merely an analogy to holding management accountable.

While no, it's not her fault, and no, the T cannot be easily fixed, she is the figurehead of the MBTA - she is it's public face.

up
10

Yeah

But I've been around (and I hope you have too) long enough and several general managers have come and gone, that you realize that they have as much power as a Ford Escort going up a 15% incline hill.

up
10

I have zero data to back this

I have zero data to back this up, only perception.....but I felt that the 14 months when Rich Davey was running the T was probably the smoothest/most reliable period of time I've witnessed for the system since I moved here in early 2007. I was somewhat disappointed when he was appointed to head up MassDOT. Again, no data, only perception.

up
14

Rich Davey was the man

My perception was the same. He was out there, and he was telling you what went wrong, and he was making sure that either he himself, or someone else, was out there telling you how they're keeping things going and making repairs at the very least. Now he's in some appointed position where he's partially just a yes-man for Deval Patrick, trying to coddle the South Coast and the Berkshires with absurd crap he didn't care much for before.

up
19

Rich Davey

Agree 100% with BostUrbEx's comment. Rich Davey was extremely vocal about his job and above all- visible (I miss his tweets from the MBTA account signed -RAD). Hell, I've seen him pick up trash outside of the Mass Transpo Building on Stuart Street. The guy talked the talk and walked the walk. I've said it here before but I'd vote for that guy for any elective office in a heartbeat.

up
13

Yeah, but lets's be honest.

Yeah, but lets's be honest. As with most "all inclusive" transportation agencies that include highways, trains, and airports under their umbrella, the majority of the administrative energy/oxygen ends up being devoted to the roads.

That's why I was disappointed when he was appointed the head of MassDOT. I knew that a lot of the energy he brought to his transit leadership post was going to get spent on asphalt going forward.

This is true...

...but part of the excitement about him was that he was going to change the "asphalt attitude."

And he did do some things. Like issue the "Green DOT" directive to focus the agency on tripling mode share of walking, biking and public transportation while holding mode share of automobiles steady. We're still waiting to see how that percolates down through the ranks, where there are still many old-timers holding onto their 1970s thinking.

Does he have the power to make everything start working again right away? No, of course not. The DOT is a large beast that will take a while to turn, and it still has to contend with the state legislature and its Boston-hating legions.

But it's completely ridiculous to absolve him of responsibility while heaping it on Bev Scott. Rich Davey is her boss. I can't quite say that the buck stops with him, but I would say that he sits to the right-hand side of the governor.

I don't think anybody is

I don't think anybody is looking to absolve him of responsibility for what's happened the past week. I was more or less responding to the sentiment that the GMs were ineffective figureheads, by countering that he was someone who - at the time he was GM - appeared to buck that trend.

He is still in charge!

And yet, bad things happen.

I think this is more a case of selective memory, or fickle chance. People think of him as a friendly face, he's got good PR, and they're more willing to give him a pass. They look at him, a native of Randolph, and think "he's one of us" whereas Scott is the outsider, brought in from Atlanta.

I wouldn't even suggest every

I wouldn't even suggest every station at all hours, though as someone else pointed out there is supposed to be someone there to assist passengers in wheelchairs.

No, what I'd like to see is a couple of inspectors, or maybe even transit cops, standing at the entrance to the station telling you that service isn't running, so you don't waste your time going all the way to the platform (and if you don't have a pass, still paying your $2!), and then telling you where you can go for an alternate route. While electronic signage could help (though it's worth pointing out the countdown signs were blank during this), an employee would be ideal.

ezride

You know, the EZ Ride shuttle, while not MBTA, takes you from Kendall to North Station. Depending on your employer, it may be free for you.

It drives me *nyuts* when the

It drives me *nyuts* when the electronic signs don't show service disruptions.

If there's any kind of shuttle bus diversion, planned or unplanned, the signs should have a fixed message saying so, except when a more urgent transient message comes through.

The last time I was in London, the Underground got this right using a low-tech solution. Every station entrance had a whiteboard showing the status of every line. The station clerk would update it if anything was wrong, anywhere in the system.

Meanwhile, I help out when I can, by warning people entering the station when something is messed up.

Technophobia

What is it about the sight of wires that sends people into panic? It happened today. It happened with the electronic cartoon ad campaign. Also car engine bays are now covered in plastic to hide any sort of scary functional components. People seem to be getting more and more ignorant about common everyday items and especially not understanding how they work, nor wanting to.

up
11

You must be forgetting the

You must be forgetting the thousands of people who don't want to bike several miles in below-freezing temps, or who have a lot of stuff they need to bring home which they can't carry on a bike, or who take the T to the commuter rail, which does not allow bikes at rush hour.

Even my bike is stowed

Normally I would agree, but my lungs don't. In any event, the T needs to work.

Also, be aware that the commuter rail does allow folding bikes, for those who might be interested. And you can carry a whole lot more on a bike than on your person.

up
13

Urban Ring

*Steps onto soap box*

*Ahem!* I'd like to take this opportunity to note just how critical an Urban Ring would be in situations such as those we've been experiencing all week long. A circumferential transit route has its own merits to begin with, but the potential benefits are unrivaled by anything else. The only problem is cost. It is easily the most costly project that one could come up with. If there was a way to keep expenses down to the true cost, I would say we should be knocking down doors for the project. GLX Somerville and BLX Lynn are huge, but don't offer a whole lot in system capacity increases nor significantly improved mobility on a region-wide scale.