A dead train at South Station means grumbling in Red Line Nation

The MBTA reported "moderate" delays after a train up and exhaled no more at South Station around 6 p.m. - on top of ongoing signal issues at Park Street. Shortly after 7 p.m., Meredith Kay reported:

Stuck in between Porter and Harvard with a rogue drunk man smoking a cigarette for about 30 minutes now with no update #help

Intrepid Lemur finds the bright spot:

The nice thing about riding the #MBTA #redline is often you can read an entire 200 page novel between adjacent stops. #productive #boston #commuting

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T-worthy novels

Intrepid Lemur's comment reminds me of a long-ago elevator conversation at my then workplace in DTX: a commuter from Quincy reported she started reading The DaVinci Code on her red line commute home the previous night, it was so good that she kept reading all the way to Braintree, then stayed on the train for the trip back to Alewife, then finally got off at her stop when the train came back from Alewife. Best word-of-mouth book recommendation I've ever received.

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Normalizing poor performance

What is simply stunning to me is how easily the T's management cite "moderate" delays in service as if it was what to expect. The T has systemic problems exaggerated by a myriad of causes. There is, however, no bigger cause of this poor state of affairs than the lack of legislative and executive leadership.

Any organization is susceptible to a breakdown of its core mission - in business it maybe quality issues with a product - it could be poor customer service - whatever the issue, people can accept the existence of problems and adjust to them when they get a sense that something meaningful being done to rectify the failures and problems.

Well run organizations confront their shortcomings and fix them. In Massachusetts we seem to blame others - the T's history orbits subcontractors - apparently deflecting blame is akin to solving problems.
What we have in Massachusetts is a public transportation system that has not only failed but is substantially being ignored by our highest elected officials. Instead they seem to focus on symptoms of the rather inconsequential slivers of the overarching problems. They order some new trains (do be delivered years from now and consider that as a "problem solved."

Where is the leadership - why isn't there a task force run by the Governor, Mayor(s), Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of House - where is the leadership proclamation declaring that the failure of our T system is a existential threat to public well-being? Why aren't they meeting weekly (or daily) to identify who is responsible for solving whatever part of the public transportation mess and then monitoring their execution of their assigned duties and responsibilities.

Where is the plan with deadlines for resolving problems? Who is accountable & what is the plan to fix this disaster? Who has been fired for incompetence? Who has been brought in to rectify failures? Why do we accept this level of performance?

What does this say about us that we collectively tolerate this mess?

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A good sentiment, but

By on

the single biggest problem the T has is that there is no accountability. Managers can't enforce policy due to the iron-clad union protection. I know it's an unpopular sentiment but we can't afford to pay train operators six figures. It's insane. We especially can't afford it when the typical employee is taking multiple months of unapproved absences each year.

In any normal job, if you don't do what is expected of you, you get disciplined. If you don't change your course, you get fired. Good employees get recognized and rewarded, promoted. With a public service union you can't do either of these things; no employee can be disciplined without a years-long bargaining process and you simply can't reward an employee for anything other than overtime. There's just no incentive to do your job well...or even at all.

The MBTA is bankrupt. Horrendously in debt and with no direction since managing it is impossible. Who wants to run a company they have no authority over? The inmates rule the asylum. It needs to be totally reorganized.

A good stab at it...

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However, not every good employee gets "recognized, reward and/or promoted".

You know the saying 'a fish rots at the head'? The T suffers from, in my opinion, horrible management and a lack of good leadership. The two are different. Thus we have well documented abuses. I do not think being in a union is a necessary bad thing (I have been in two) but like all things, they can become corrupt. It is not wise to paint with such a broad brush.

I agree with your last paragraph but until our governor even acknowledges the problem (he basically brushed off the federal report that shows that the MBTA is the worst in the nation), we will still have a problem. We need leadership that will acknowledge the problem, first and foremost. Only then will anything get fixed.

Don't hold your breath.

Train operators don't make 6

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Train operators don't make 6 figures, and the T fires workers all the time. You just don't hear about it. The T suffers from poor management. Which is the executive level. Which is highly paid. Which is not unionized.

With apologies to H. P. Lovecraft

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"South Station Under-- Washington Under-- Park Street under-- Kendall-- Central-- Harvard--" The poor fellow was chanting the familiar stations of the Boston-Cambridge tunnel that burrowed through our peaceful native soil thousands of miles away in New England, yet to me the ritual had neither irrelevance nor home feeling. It had only horror, because I knew unerringly the monstrous, nefarious analogy that had suggested it. We had expected, upon looking back, to see a terrible and incredible moving entity we had formed a clear idea. What we did see--for the mists were indeed all too malignly thinned--was something altogether different, and immeasurably more hideous and detestable. It was the utter, objective embodiment of the fantastic novelist's "thing that should not be"; and its nearest comprehensible analogue is a vast, onrushing subway train as one sees it from a station platform--the great black front looming colossally out of infinite subterranean distance, constellated with strangely colored lights and filling the prodigious burrow as a piston fills a cylinder.

But we were not on a station platform. We were on the track ahead as the nightmare, plastic column of fetid black iridescence oozed tightly onward through its fifteen-foot sinus, gathering unholy speed and driving before it a spiral, rethickening cloud of pallid abyss vapor. It was a terrible, indescribable thing waster than any subway train--a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and unforming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down on us, slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter. Still came that eldritch, mocking cry--

"WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE! WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE!"