We're Number 1! Uh, yay?

NJ.com reports:

NJ Transit's trains are no longer the worst in the nation for breaking down and delaying commuters.

That mark of embarrassment went to Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, which had the most commuter train breakdowns in 2016, according to federal statistics released Tuesday.

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    Baker

    By on

    You're doing a real bang up job there, Charlie! Reforms are working.. we're #1 at something............. *faceplam*

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    Blaming the press. who does Marty sound like?

    Remember when the mayor looked at into the camera and said most days the T is reliable and people don't think it is because of the press, just a few weeks ago?

    Now the feds say our transit system is the most unreliable in the USA.

    Marty doesn't run the T but Bostonians rely on it and the city pays about $200,000,000 a year in addition to our fares.

    How can Marty be so wrong about so many things and still count on so many voters to choose him again? Enough blaming the press for s**t they are not to blame for and represent Bostonians by doing work that makes life better for us.

    Who does Marty sound like when he blames the press for fake news? Say it.

    Watch:

    Baker's focus on fixing the T has been to privatize which he alleges is to wring-out cost savings. Privatization initiatives often have almost nothing to do with increasing reliability. Baker appointed a private equity guy to do that work. Subsequently, and for about two months, Baker had an interim, an economist, running the T. Baker knew him from conservative think tank Pioneer Institute. His current hire is a corporate turnaround executive who has a flawed record and no experience with public transit. None. Baker continues to focus on fiscal issues. That's what reform before revenue looks like. I think the T has a $7 billion unfunded deficit in good state of repair and we're still in the reform stage. With Baker as governor the revenue stage will be underfunded He opposes the fair share tax for transportation and education. His allies at Mass Taxpayers Foundation et al are trying to kill it in court.

    Walsh likes the direction Baker is taking the state in, his words. He declined to commit to supporting the Democratic nominee for Governor of Mass.

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    And your solution?

    By on

    Just curious

    Charlie is investing half a billion per year on capital improvements. So much that the T asked him not to spend more money because they can't keep up.

    What more should he do?

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    That's all

    By on

    Half a billion? Is that all? On a system that has a 8 BILLION dollar backlog and probably more depending on which report you look it. Not enough apparently. Sometimes throwing money at the problem isn't always the answer, proper leadership is. We aren't getting it from Charlie. He had ulterior motives (privatization) to "fixing the T". He didn't fix, he's making it worse. He's only giving us the illusion of leadership because he's "doing something", whether or not its the right thing or not.

    I think my point is.. and it's always been my point. He ran on a "Mr Fix it" platform.. once again, we're proving he isn't fixing it, he's making it worse.

    What should he do? I agree with Elmer. Ride it every fucking day. I think if he sat on a broken down train for an hour in 85+ degree heat, boy it would be amazing how quick stuff would fix or how the coffers would open, or how he'd go the legislature for immediate emergency funding. Charlie does not care about the T because he nor his friends ride it.

    What else? Stop with the privatization, it's not working, and it's making things worse. I don't know of ONE privatization contract that is actually working out well for the T. Every single one has some sort of issue. Are we really saving any money in the long run at the T that expense of customers? And please feel free to ask me about my privatization experience,. I can tell you first hand it's not working.

    What else? Dump the FCMB, Ramirez, and bring in people with actual transit experience to run the show. Step away and let people do their job, not run your ulterior motives. And allow them to succeed and stop bastardizing them in order for you to move up politically.

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    Not sure how much.of that would work

    By on

    The T itself told Charlie they were maxed out handling the half billion-and they aren't historically prone to turning down money.

    The equipment mostly a good decade past its useful life - and that isn't Charlies fault.

    We won't see significant improvements for 3-5 years until some of this takes hold and new equipment comes in. Riding the T, leadership and non privatization aren't going to speed up those lead times.

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    The equipment being old isn't

    By on

    The equipment being old isn't Charlie's fault, but that doesn't excuse him for not doing anything to remedy it. He could spearhead the effort to secure funding for more new cars, if he actually cared.

    Not a single T rolling stock purchase has been made under this administration, despite the urgent need. That is definitely Charlie's fault.

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    Charlie

    By on

    The decision to replace the 01800s came under Charlie, and looks like it could be a very good decision.

    On the rapid transit side, once the Red & Orange line fleets are entirely replaced, the oldest rolling stock in the fleet will be the newly overhauled Type 7s (excluding the PCCs). The Type 8 will hopefully be the only problem child in the fleet.

    The only other thing that could have been replaced were the PCCs, but that's a whole other can of worms.

    Commuter Rail still has significant issues though.

    That may be true

    By on

    And I don't know the replacement sxhedule.

    But, what are they spending the $500 million on then? And sounds like they already have their hands full.

    Take a look at the budget and see where the money can come from. 75% of the state's budget is education and HHS and people scream if you touch that. Everything else runs on a shoestring. So the choice is new taxes. I'm with you on a gas tax, but that's nor politically possible.

    Then what?

    I agree with pretty much

    By on

    I agree with pretty much everything you said, but I can provide an example of privatization that is (anecdotally) working out well: the station ambassadors, or whatever they're called. It used to be a crapshoot whether or not there would be a T employee in the Old State House headhouse at State, and many times all of the 3 faregates were blocked by a tourist attempting to figure out how to insert a ticket. Now every day there is at least one, usually two T ambassadors standing there at the gates to help people (and I've noticed them keeping an eye on the gates when not helping people, hopefully curtailing some of the rampant piggybacking).

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    Ask this guy

    By on

    Ask this blind person how he feels about those ambassadors..

    http://www.universalhub.com/2017/private-ambassadors-toss-away-sight-imp...

    in my experience with the MBTA privatization efforts.. you cannot pay people minimum wage and expect people to give a shit about their jobs. It happened at the RIDE/GCS, the warehouse/Mancom, and these ambassadors.

    And they've only been on the job for a few months.. see how cheery and helpful they are in a year when they got that 25 cent raise and they are dealing with angry customers every day. It will numb you and they will be just like T employees.

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    That guy isn't blind

    By on

    It's his panhandling schtick. He's a known entity in the Chinatown/Theater District neighborhood. Hell, I'll probably run into him when I leave my office today, and if I waved to him from across Washington St. he'd wave back.

    Ambassadors at station entrances?

    By on

    Like the time the fare machine at Boylston inbound ate my monthly pass on the third day of the month. It took FOUR calls to the customer service line and over one hour for somebody to show up to retrieve it.

    The fact is that, even after privatization, most stations still do not have CSAs or whatever fancy term they're called these days. Perhaps it's because they're all at North and South Stations (the Fare is Farce - er - Fair charade) hanging around the platform entrances chatting and texting because trains aren't boarding. 20 "fare collection agents" (yes, that's the official MBTA term for them) checking one or two trains at most, but usually ZERO trains. Then once you board the trains, the crews check your ticket again.

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    ambassadors

    By on

    Don't really help with anything besides loading up a CharlieCard.

    Asked one the other day if there were any bathrooms at a red line station besides South Station. They said no.

    Yeah, but

    By on

    NJTransit did it by maintaining their commuter rail trains better in 2016 than they did in 2015, halving the number of failures.

    Meanwhile, the MBTA actually decreased their failure numbers from 2015 to 2016 according to the story cited and the story cited in that story (going from 356 failures to 338.)

    So, congratulations to both NJTransit and the MBTA. Oh, and nj.com, stop being such muff garbage.

    Thanks

    By on

    And if the MBTA continues improving by 18 breakdowns per year, they'll get it down to fewer than 1 per workday in just a half decade!

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    That is really saying

    By on

    That is really saying something because the trains in this country are terrible. This is what happens when you give billions in handouts to drivers every year. What is America good at anymore?

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    No

    By on

    Mechanical failures are down at the worst 2 operators. I would also be willing to be that Northern Rail in England have a similar record. They are running 30 year old DMUs that are basically buses on rails.

    Remember, someone has to come in worst.

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    "I would bet"

    That phrase always means the writer has no evidence to support whatever claim they are making. Either they couldn't find any evidence, or they were too lazy to look for it. The claim may or may not be true. We're supposed to accept it because they said it.

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    Um

    By on

    Why accept Kinopio’s premise, then, as the 2 lagging commuter rail systems are improving, showing that we are doing better. NJ Transit did a great job cutting down failures, and the T decreased failures by 10%. The reality is that neither him nor I have the stats to back up our claims. I merely noted that systems with old equipment tend to have more failures, keying in on Northern because their rolling stock is older than the equipment our commuter rail riders use. If I really wanted to be a pill, I would have brought up the relative success of certain US carriers that are either new (Utah, New Mexico) or have recently upgraded equipment (LIRR)

    "Remember, someone has to

    By on

    "Remember, someone has to come in worst."

    Well, there's "worst in the ultra-luxury sedan category" and "worst in the shitty plastic econobox category". In Europe, the 'worst' transit operator is probably years ahead of any 'best' we have. See my point?

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    Only 8 live days at Suffolk Downs this year

    By on

    I also think you posted this on the wrong comment, as I did use the "b" word elsewhere.

    Sadly, the benchmark figures in the UK don't give mechanical breakdowns as a metric, so it might be apples to oranges.

    Go back to the beginning of this thread

    By on

    It was not I who decided to look at America's commuter rail systems in comparison to the rest of the world. It was a certain car hating Jamaica Plain resident. I just decided to spar with the troll.

    Uh

    Not to completely derail the conversation, but I wouldn't call 93 or 91 win teams an embarrassment, especially considering the Cubs won 92.

    Importing cheap garbage from

    By on

    Importing cheap garbage from China. You know, all that stuff you have in your house? You're the real problem.

    Consumers Don't Choose To Buy Chinese Made Goods

    By on

    Wal-Mart made that decision for us many years ago, squeezing every bit of profit out of US manufacturers and making big deals with the communists to save a few pennies. Now, consumers rarely have a choice to purchase American made products, so don't blame us!

    With the leg up given to them by Wal-Mart and other cutthroat retailers, manufacturers in China have made tremendous improvements in efficiency and quality control over the years, with their expertise now extending far beyond cheap consumer goods.

    Meanwhile, the United States discarded it's world dominance of rail and rapid-transit technology as people were falsely convinced that single-occupancy motor vehicles were a better way to commute within urban areas. China has not only deployed their own vast transit networks, they're designing and building many modern, high-speed-rail and rapid-transit systems — to differing standards — all over the world.

    Just as a television set is made of many smaller, specialized sub-components; so are subway cars. It's reasonable to expect that the highly refined and nimble Chinese manufacturing skills will crank out very good trains; even if their final assembly must take place in Springfield. I wish it could all be made in the United States, but that's not the fault of Ⓣ fare payers.

    Of course, we'll see in a couple of years whether or not Adam starts making rhymes about Chinese trains.

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    Like

    By on

    You'll have time for that chop suey as new
    train at Chinatown goes Aw Fooey.

    Somehow,

    I think Adam will leave the racist doggerel to others, such as yourself.

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    Among all this anger at Baker

    By on

    Among all this anger at Baker and frustration at the T, is the very real question of who is going to pay for the infrastructures and upgrades that the T needs.

    Higher Fares?
    Higher Taxes?
    Defund another gov't program?

    It's easy to whine about Baker and the T, but it's not like there are any obvious and workable solutions all around.

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    The Buck Stops Where?

    By on

    Higher taxes for better public transit IS the obvious solution. Also, take away that big dig debt that Baker saddled the MBTA with. This is so outside Baker's ideology that he would never push for that, and DeLeo isn't much better, nor did Patrick's cowardice on the issue help.

    But Baker is Governor now and the buck stops with him.

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    You must be new in these parts

    By on

    We settled this weeks ago. The T got WAY more revenue than new debt payments after they implemented forward funding and n fact debt payments as a percent of revenue are lower now than they were pre-forward funding (22% v 31%)

    This is an urban myth that was perpetrated by a T spokesperson years ago and repeated until it became "true".

    It is indisputably false.

    Hey!

    By on

    Care to share your "no big dig debt here" soma?

    Or is this another one of your uncommunicable delusions (like the "hire untrained people to read Dr. Seuss allday and watch the test scores SOAR!" one?)

    Never said "no big dig debt here"

    By on

    Did say that the state gave the T more than enough to pay for that starting back in 2001. And when sales tax revenue didn't materialize as thought 8-9 years earlier and in the midst of the worst financial crisis in our lifetime - they started giving the T hundreds of millions in extra money in 2009. Easy to find if you try.

    Unless like some others out here you want to perpetuate outdated urban myths?

    You are leaving out a couple of important points

    By on

    1) Nobody would have heard of this wonky white paper unless a T spokesperson brought this to the attention of the press - the earliest mention I can find is about 2012 from Bostinno although it may have been referenced in a roughly 2011 article in Boston Magazine (found the article - looking for the citation).

    2) Perhaps as a result of this paper - starting in FY 2010 (which would have actually been written in 2009) the state started tossing HEAPS of money over the fence to the MBTA - literally hundreds of millions of dollars. In the early years they spent it on salaries, pensions and benefits - which is where the vast majority of their average annual 4% budget increases went prior to that - not additional debt servicing for capital improvements. By the time people were writing articles about this - the problem had been addressed by the legislature for several years. That white paper was out of date within a year of being written and long before the press got a hold of it to support poorly researched articles that became the urban myth that you and others are intent on perpetuating.

    3) Forward funding was little more than an accounting shift - so in that regard - you are correct - artificial. But other than fares and taxes (roughly 80% of the t's funding) - how is this not how the T should be funded?

    Sorry still urban myth and forward funding (i.e. - not giving the T a blank check) has worked remarkably well with an adjustment for the shortfall in sales tax revenue that nobody could have foreseen in 2000.

    Not New To These Parts, nor is the Big Dig Debt

    By on

    Nice obfuscation, sir. The T had billions in debt it didn't incur placed on it by Charlie Baker, this is indisputably true. The funding the T has been allocated hasn't been sufficient to pay their obligations as costs rise faster than the funding formula, also indisputably true. And yet, the T's expenses are in line with every other public transportation system so you can't simply blame it on inefficiencies or teh unions. So yeah, that debt is a problem. The End.

    Ref expenses in line with other transit systems: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/03/09/mbta-spending-paradox/rpTmf...

    Please take a finance class

    By on

    The T's incremental revenue in the first year of forward funding was substantially more than the incremental debt payments. Indisputably true.

    So unless they had some form iof variable rate debt or bizarre swap structure, those costs never went up. There may have been other costs that drove expenses, but it is financially impossible for the debt transfer to have caused financial shortfalls. (Well - there's one scenario, but that didn't happen). Indusputably true.

    As for costs rising faster than the funding formula, yeah that hapoened and we can argue why. Per my other posts, that was addressed almost 10 years ago. Indisputably true.

    Finally, interesting stats, but these intercity comps are almost impossible and the Globe does not have the financial or human resources to do it properly. Food for thought in narrow context, sure, but it neither proves nor disproves anything.

    Conclusion, Charlie didn't break the T. Indisputably true.

    "Charlie didn't break the T."

    By on

    That's irrelevant. He said he'd fix it, most of his initiatives have been around privatization, and the reliability of key parts of the system are the most unreliable in the US In addition to commuter rail unreliability, red line, orange line and green lines fail regularly.

    I bet he argues he needs 8 years to make and keep commutes on time and reliably.

    Yup

    By on

    It'll be at least 5 years before we see meaningful improvement. Again - you can't blame any of that on him. That's the lead time for a good chunk of all the new cars we're expecting plus other improvements in track and signaling. Could be 8 years - but he'll run for re-election, likely win - and probably make a bid at Prez in 2020 - so the next person will get the credit for fixing the T.

    Yup

    By on

    It'll be at least 5 years before we see meaningful improvement. Again - you can't blame any of that on him. That's the lead time for a good chunk of all the new cars we're expecting plus other improvements in track and signaling. Could be 8 years - but he'll run for re-election, likely win - and probably make a bid at Prez in 2020 - so the next person will get the credit for fixing the T.

    When You Don't Care Properly For Something, It Dies

    By on

    Pieces of infrastructure are living things, dependent on humans for survival. When people responsible for the care of domestic animals fail to provide proper sustenance, or care for them when they are sick or injured, the creatures will suffer and die.

    If you knowingly took over responsibility for a farm with animals that were already suffering neglect, but didn't do very much to feed or heal them, it would now be your fault if the death and suffering continued. If the farm only grew vegetables but you neglected to maintain the crops, they would also wither and die.

    Tragic as the failure of the farm is unto itself, an additional tragedy is the loss of food the farm could otherwise provide. It doesn't matter to the people running the farm because they get plenty of food to eat elsewhere, but many people who depend on the farm go hungry.

    The provides a necessary source of nutrition to the Massachusetts economy, but the governor doesn't realize how important that is. Charlie needs to visit his farm and taste its offerings first hand. Sometimes riding the can be hard to stomach, and occasionally it can be pleasantly sweet. In any case, it's something that needs to be fed and taken care of on a continuing basis. If you don't take care of the , you break the .

    How long should it take?

    By on

    I mean, if we are talking about the red and orange lines, we have a timeline on new vehicles (5 years from contract to first trains in service.) For the commuter rail, they know the problem (the new locomotives and lack of enough locomotives overall) and are trying to resolve them. The latter will hopefully be resolved by election time, while the new trains will be an issue for the next term (regardless of who is governor.)

    As for other infrastructure, you tell us. How long should it take to take care of the maintenance and infrastructure backlog he inherited (and his predecessor inherited?)

    Ah, finance class.

    By on

    You said:

    So unless they had some form iof variable rate debt or bizarre swap structure, those costs never went up.

    But the very first line of the Born Broke executive summary says:

    "For the past several years the MBTA has only balanced its budgets by restructuring debt, liquidating cash reserves, selling land, and other one-time actions"

    Who needs to take a finance class?

    Do you know what restructuring debt means?

    By on

    It's often/usually a good thing, especially in a time of falling interest rates.

    Other than liquidating cash reserves, these are pretty mundane operational isdues. And one of the main reasons all this was necessary was due to excess personnel expenditures in the first place.

    Again, that white paper was written with the express purpose of justifying the pending $160 million excess payment to the T, not an objective analysis of the true cause of the T's woes.

    Forward *ahem* funding?

    By on

    You are forgetting that nifty trick of "budgeting" years ago when Baker was the primary exponent of dumping all the cost overrun debt onto the MBTA.

    This when the contractors had already spent all the transit enhancement money on their expensive lunches and special friends and Martha Coakley too.

    You were probably in diapers when that happened. But it happened. It is Baker's fault. It resulted in a debt dump from a highway project on a system that was supposed to receive benefits from that funding. It has killed the MBTA. \

    Oh, and ignore Stevil - he's gotten into that wicked denialist koolaid again.

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    Ignore you

    By on

    I know it's tough when the facts contradict your worldview.

    I always wondered what "forward funding" actually was intended to do - apparently in the good 'ole days - the T would spend a bunch of money, collect a bunch of money and then send a bill to Beacon Hill for the difference. Forward funding - which probably references the sales tax component (which was addressed 8 years ago in 2009 per the above - not really anybody's fault unless you expect them to have a crystal ball predicting the dot com bust, 9/11 and the financial crisis and the rise of Amazon/tax free internet sales) was actually intended to tell the T that they had to live on a budget. Unfortunately, as it turns out - their idea of a budget was spend everything we can on salaries, benefits and pensions and screw capital funding - so now we (and they) are paying the price for that neglect. It's not a complicated issue - and is based on any reasoned analysis of the historical income statements.

    Which is why the answer was stupid

    By on

    So, the answer that Baker and the boys came up with was to give them a fraction of the sales tax and tell them to live within that means (which the politicians predicted at the time would increase forever and ever...and it immediately dropped like a rock with the economy).

    Because that makes sense. That's like telling me my salary is based on a fraction of the GDP of Zimbabwe. Why? Because, I was getting paid whatever I asked for at the end of the year. Oh ok, so...why Zimbabwe?

    If the state wanted more of a say over how much it had to give the MBTA and if it thought the MBTA was making horrible salary decisions and union agreements and squandering capital opportunities...then it should have addressed THOSE issue directly. Instead it just pushed the problem off AND handicapped the MBTA in the process. Well, that all came to roost when it started to JUST HAND THE MBTA MONEY AGAIN TO MAKE ENDS MEET.

    Bravo.

    And to cap it all off, THEY ARE STILL FUNDING THE MBTA BY THIS METHOD INSTEAD OF FIXING THE ISSUE.

    You can make a good argument with made up facts

    By on

    Your argument died in 2009. They changed the formula (guaranteeing asales tax floor) and now supplement the T's budget by 100s of millions annually.

    In fact, that "Born Broke" article came out in April 2009, 60 days before this system was implemented. Pretty obvious timing that it was commissioned with the specific goal of political cover for the almost $200 million that the legislature was about to give them. Perhaps needed, separate argument, but the whole Charlie broke the T with forward funding is patently false. Urban myth.

    I do agree with this:

    If the state wanted more of a say over how much it had to give the MBTA and if it thought the MBTA was making horrible salary decisions and union agreements and squandering capital opportunities...then it should have addressed THOSE issue directly.

    Unfortunately, I think it mentioned in Born Broke that under Mass law the T is subject to arbitration - which is why costs went up faster than revenue (which went up 4% - even though they assumed 3% sales tax rise under forward funding). That's on the legislature - not Charlie.

    New Jersey Transit had to

    By on

    New Jersey Transit had to replace a lot of their train cars in the last few years, having made the monumentally stupid decision of parking them in low-lying outdoor areas for Hurricane Sandy. So, I'm glad they're doing better, but "better" is different from "well."

    Obviously, given the choice between the worst transit system in the country with a failure once a month, and the best with three failures a week, we'd be better off with fewer failures, whatever was going on elsewhere. I don't care whether the MBTA or New York's MBTA is having more problems: the problem is that they're both in worse shape than they were ten years ago.

    New Jersey Transit had to

    By on

    New Jersey Transit had to replace a lot of their train cars in the last few years, having made the monumentally stupid decision of parking them in low-lying outdoor areas for Hurricane

    Chris Christie was trying to save money by not running the wash bay that week.

    But, yes, besides leaving trains in areas that could flood, they've been having issues the last few years with equipment age, moving maintenance/capital money to plug operations gap, salaries falling behind other transportation agencies so they've been losing some talent, patronage hires, regional/federal politics (helping to slow down any hope of new Hudson River tunnels), Amtrak maintenance issues, and somebody named Sandy parking her boat on the tracks.

    Fake News!

    Mayor Marty said the MBTA is mostly reliable, and you crazy media types just like to run with the occasional problem, so this report can't be true.

    /sarcasm.

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    I wouldn't want to go easy on Charlie...

    By on

    But

    "oldest subway system in country" = "least reliable subway system in country"

    is not that hard an equation to understand.

    Technically only about 4 stops on the Green Line qualify as "oldest", but the whole system is pretty old, and was built in (often uncoordinated) parts over more than a century.

    Non sequitur

    By on

    Being old doesn't preclude being unreliable. They are easily unrelated.

    You could make the equivalent hand-waving argument in the opposite direction by saying that by being the oldest we've run into all the mistakes already and having learned from them we now have the best transit system while all the newer ones are still learning things we learned decades ago.

    Our system is unreliable because it's unreliably funded. It's unreliably managed with unreliable public oversight as a quasi-public entity outside of government control in some ways. And it was heavily destabilized as a whipping boy for all the environmental failures of the Big Dig (which should have been an entirely state-owned debacle).

    Also

    By on

    The rankings are based solely on commuter rail systems, so the fact that the Green Line is the oldest means nothing in this discussion.

    I stand corrected

    By on

    I hadn’t realized that the report referred only to commuter rail.

    The system is definitely underfunded, and Baker shares some of the blame for that. But it’s unferfunded at least in part because it’s so expensive to maintain, which is at least partly due to its age. Experience can’t make up for decrpitude. The human body provides good evidence for that.

    The article was about

    By on

    The article was about commuter rail stats.

    Somewhere in it (or the article it linked to), there is a link to an excel file with some stats for all US public transit agencies, with separate lines under each agency for type of service (commuter rail, light rail, rapid transit, bus & whether the agency directly operates the service or uses some sort of licensee/contractor).

    It looks like a summary table, not a full report. I could find the numbers the article cited for NJT, LIRR, Metro-North, & MBTA commuter rail - but I couldn't make much sense of the other categories without time to do a lot more reading.

    It's even worse than it seems

    By on

    It's even worse than it seems.

    The T commuter rail had the most breakdowns, but those numbers weren't normalized for the smaller number of trains.

    We had more than twice as many breakdowns as the LIRR, and more than 3 times as many as Metro North. But each of those railroads ran more than twice as many train-miles. So our failure rate per mile is actually more than 4 times bigger than the LIRR, and more than 6 times bigger than Metro North.

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