Trains die, riders sigh

Waiting at Green Street for the Orange Line

Like a bad dream: Waiting for the Orange Line at Green. Photo by Kristin MacDougall.

All the doctors in the world upstairs could do nothing to revive the outbound Orange Line train that expired at Tufts Medical Center around 8:20 a.m.

This was after a Green Line trolley expired at Copley and various trains heading to South Station took a break in their morning routine thanks to switch problems.

UPDATE: Another Orange Line train died at Sullivan, or maybe it didn't die and is just sitting at Sullivan with its doors open because of a track problem down the line. And here's a photo of Stoughton commuters getting on a train to Boston - two hours late.

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Comments

A true inventory

I'd love for the MBTA to do a true inventory of the trains, and put only the trains that are in perfect working condition into service. I know that would mean, probably the Blue Line, and probably one Green line trolley would be left. But, really give people an honest press release, and an honest show of the reality of the state of the trains. The T says we need to plan for the possibility of break downs. I don't think a 4.5 hour window is needed to get from Tufts Med to Cambridge. That's an unreasonable expectation. Give us a true inventory, and fire any T mechanic slacking off trying to hold a trolley together with duct tape and hope, rather than actually fixing it.

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The T has been saying for

The T has been saying for years that the inventory needs to be replaced. A report years ago by David F. D'Alessandro outlined how much investement had been lacking and how much more was needed. Celluci, Swift and Romney did nothing except raise the fares to pay for commuter rail expansion and let the Big Dig suck all the money out of transportation. Patrick has tried again and again to get the gas tax raised (they finally did 3 cents last year, but that is nothing) and other means to get revenue to pay for replacing the trains. Murray and the cycle of felonious speakers have rebuffed him again and again.
He has put forward a plan to replace many of these trains, so if this affects you (because you ride the T or because you drive and don't like the prospect of more and more T riders switching to driving and adding traffic) tell Murray, Deleo, and your representatives to fund the T, not just a year at a time with increasingly weak bandaids, but with a real plan. These same politicians are close to spending another billion to expand the convention center, so there is money, its just not a priority for them.

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Mechanic? More like a management and political

problem. The real people to blame, if blame is to be placed, are the brought off and spineless politicians, management and union officials, who're are all in bed with each other. And what about the Massachusetts CEO, Deval Patrick? When was the last time you've heard the governor speak on the subject of the MBTA and our overall falling apart infrastructure? But these charachters mentioned above all show up fr media photo opps like spending 250 million to rebuild one station like government center.

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If you know where to look

If you know where to look there are some of these on line posted by hobbyists, but they will not include daily problems.

If all of the trains that have the most minimal issues, were taken out of service, nothing would be running.

The problem, as it is with pretty much all of rail transit in this nation, is a failure to invest in the infrastructure. That includes the tracks, trains, and everything that supports it. Quite often such support is blocked by legislators whose districts have little to nothing to do with transit. This is both a state and national issue.

The T has new subway trains on order, or will shortly. However there is no such thing as a trainset that can be purchased off the shelf like a can of corn at the grocery store. Our nation's transit system came about as the result of many private carriers with their own set of standards. Many chose to be different on purpose to prevent anything from looking like the competition.

So the Blue, Red, Orange, and Green lines all have different lengths, platform heights, and widths, or a selection of each. That means when a new subway train is ordered, it has to be customized from the ground up. Manufacturers need to tool-up for that. And to maximize availability, the newer ones have to be able to work with the older ones, though they may be getting away from that mindset now. They didn't try with the Red Line, but did with the Green in the last round of acquisitions.

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Brand new gardens

Plant over the parking lots at the State House and MBTA HQ. Anyone who works at one of those places can play the transit lottery with the rest of us. It's our one last chance to have anything done about this shitshow.

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I was on the orange line today.

Got to Platform at 8:20 at Stony Brook, after waiting 10 mins, I took a south bound train, because of the huge crush of people wanting to go north bound. I got off at Green st, hopped right on a northbound train, and then the fun began. At Jackson, everyone in my car (and my car only) was asked to get off the train, they were taking that car out of service (I've never seen this before, weight issue?). Then, I had to wait for 2 trains to pass totally full before finally getting a packed northbound train. The entire ride I had visions of being one of the guys in the "have you seen this groper" poster because there was no safe place for my hands...

I'm usually pretty smug about being an Orange Line guy, because i feel like it is comparatively reliable (better than anything but the Blue line) but what do I know...

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Many Reasons

A T train will take one car in a trainset out of service for a host of reasons. It can happen if someone is ill and it has to be taken to the shops to be cleaned. It may also be a failed heater, lights (rare but possible), A/C, etc.

Most often the reason a car will be taken out of service is because they cannot get a door interlock.

When the doors are opened the train is prevented from powering up and moving. All doors have to properly close for the safety system to allow power to be applied to move the train.

This is why you may sometimes see one side of a door "stuck" closed. By locking down one side they can get the necessary signal to move the train. If both doors fail, they cannot lock down the whole door because it becomes an egress issue, and their rules require the whole car be taken out of service.

Even if the doors are opening and closing OK, if they don't get the go-ahead in the control cab they cannot chance it, and depending on the problem, may not be able to over-ride it.

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it was packed but...

I'm pretty sure no one got sick, I wouldn't have noticed heat because there were so many of us, and the doors were staying open so long at each station, than any climate control wasn't really noticable. So I guess it was this door issue. But, they didn't remove the car from the 'trainset' (thanks for the new vocab word!) so, are you saying that by removing all of the people from the car, they were able to then override the powerup process somehow? I'm just wondering because it, to the self-centered commuter, it just seemed like they were playing a mean trick on us, everything appeared fine.

better yet

Let's make it simple.

Your car was broken. They can

a) take the single car out of service

b) take the whole 6 car trainset out of service.

You move more people by just taking the one car out. (and they may end up taking the whole trainset out of service come Wellington anyways...)

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I don't understand Romney,

I don't understand Romney, Fish and the rest of the Olympic game's committee thought that the Olympics will be great because we will have to improve public transportation options which will be great for Boston. We have to do it without the olympics, he was Governor and FIsh is a powerful person in this state, why cant they make the case that the state needs to dramatically improve the public transportation and fund it starting now (or better yet, why didnt Romney do this while governor instead of delaying the green line the red blue connector and cancelling the north-south rail link design work?

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They know outside money will

They know outside money will be available for Olympic's infrastructure which isn't otherwise available to the state. The entire focus of the previous governors and legislature was on finishing the Big Dig and the related commuter rail projects. The way the MBTA didn't get very much ARRA 'stimulus' money to repair, upgrade, or outright replace failing infrastructure speaks volumes about how mismanaged that whole affair was.

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There were several related

There were several related (mandated by court rulings) subway projects (Somerville Green line, red-blue link, JP green line renew) that they felt fine ignoring while they were focusing on the suburbanites using the Big Dig tunnel and commuter rail expansion. Also, Romney found time and money to build the flyover to the cape.

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IOC seems to accept promises of Future Infrasture

I mean, just look at Sochi. The South Korea proposal was just the same at well. Beijing built practically an entirely new subway network for another recent example. It seems IOC is content to accept promises they will build the infrastructure than just going for bids that everything is mostly built. So far, despite last week's news, it's kinda been working out (for building it to still be able to host, not at the cost of building it).

Heck, if Boston have to make all kinds of infrastructure promises to get the IOC, I'm all for it. Because it doesn't seem we're going to get any of it (except GLX and almost surely, but painfully the Red/Orange new trains) within our lifetimes without it.

They do.

And don't usually make it a show stopper.

I know in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games when the bid was won in 1989, they promised to build a entirely new rail line with six new stops, (along with upgrades to existing lines). Most of it was done by 1996, but the North Line north of Dunwoody Station didn't open until Dec 2000 due to mitigation issues. I'm sure this was allowed to slide since no real Olympic venues were on this line (and was mainly built as a way to get riders OFF of GA400 before perimeter (I-285))

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New trains in 5 years

I heard the T is expecting new trains in 5 years. Implication is that Orange line trains are included. Being an imperfect world that most likely means an additional 1 to 2 years because of building delays. Another year for testing equipment and another year for repairing new equipment which wasn't built correctly (remember the original boxy Green line trains?). So at the least that means that we have to wait 7 years before the worst of the Orange line trains are replaced.

T rolling stock will become T laughing stock.

It is hard to grasp that our legislators can't see that allowing a major service of Commonwealth government (the T is still a government agency isn't it?) is an embarrassment to the Commonwealth as a whole. I agree that the Speakers as far back as Finneran (who ironically used the T) and the President of the Senate both have served the Commonwealth poorly by allowing public transportation in the capital city to deteriorate to an abysmal state. The Governor did identify the need but even his call was too late; the legislature's response was too little and too late.

Does the General Court actually do much anyway? If they are incompetent at funding something as basic, fundamental and vital as public transportation then perhaps they should meet for only a few months of the year (receiving a commensurate pay). But that would require them to pass a Constitutional amendment which would mean they would have to actually work for a living for the rest of the year.

Between the usefulness of the Boston City Council and the effectiveness of the Massachusetts General Court democracy as means of electing good law makers lately sucks.

Would privatizing legislatures be a better solution? Sell shares in each jurisdiction. Redesign the jobs of elected officials so that they have to provide reports of what they delivered to their constituents on an annual basis. At the annual board of elected officials meetings anyone owning a share receives an annual reporting (or not) what measurable results the elected officials delivered. Then at the annual meeting stock owners in the jurisdiction vote whether to keep the people or to replace them. Replacements can then be in a separate election.

But set up the process so that it identifies what the elected officials deliver or not. Because can we actually measure the effectiveness of elected officials nowadays? Too many elected officials seem to have sinecures that suck money out of the Commonwealth but do not give back of sufficient effort or results.

Well, maybe

Except 18 people can stand in the space taken by a single car.

Except that it is far cheaper to provide trains for several thousand people than bulldoze the entire city and pave it for space inefficient personal transportation vehicles.

Was just wondering

I don't disagree with your clauses. Was just wondering if you were making a reference to that post. If you were, you did had a point in the meaning that the driving complainer has a right to complain as much as a the pedestrian in this situation. Telling him off that "you're the traffic" felt off even if it was true.

Your comment kinda bounced on that point and why it bothered me. The pedestrians in this post should be rightfully angry of the dying trains. The driver should have the same extension to the point it can be faulted to planning - saying it's his fault he drove was constructive. Some is justified per your two clauses, but it still doesn't mean such a comment, it was just needlessly hostile but I couldn't put my finger on it. The pedestrian should be dealing with these crap-ass trains. The driver shouldn't be ignored because he is in car, to the extent where it can be faulted to Boston poor planning that the subsequent comments pointed out.