The problems on the Red Line are quintessential; there's a dead train sitting at Central

20 minute delays in Quincy

The sign says it all at Quincy Center. Photo by Amy Reinhart.

UPDATE: After hauling away one train carcass, the T reported another train, headed inbound, died at South Station.

The work week got off to its usual start on the Red Line when a train took its last breaths at Central, and now riders are stuck in what the MBTA calls "moderate" delays.

It's no better in the other direction:


Free tagging: 



By on

Whoever was in charge when they ordered the new Red Line cars is responsible for the fixing of this issue, so you can thank him or her when the final fix is there.

No gap with reality. Just that crushing wait for the replacement vehicles to get on line.

Waquiot please

By on

New cars are only part of the equation. Get with it


By on

The stupid anon who I replied to is pinning the breakdowns in this article on Pollack. While she can own or be blamed for failures with switches, signals, and the like, when a train or two or four break down, that's not on her by a longshot.

Sense of urgency

By on

There was no train at Central between 7:25 and 7:53.

There should be seven trains in that interval.

Yet there seems to be no sense of urgency over at 10 Park Plaza about this. I don't know how the inner workings of the MBTA management structure but there certainly doesn't seem to be much sense of urgency to fix this other than "we're getting new cars in a few years, so things should be better then."

News flash: we'd like things better now. How are these repairs being tracked? What happened to this train? What kind of systems are in place to keep this from happening in the future, or to make sure that balky trains that can screw up the commute for tens of thousands of people aren't sent out on the tracks?

I have had the opportunity to attend in Chicago what they call the daily "flash" meeting, where each department presents a rundown of the previous day's events to the president. This allows each department to be up-to-date on issues facing the system, and promotes accountability as the leadership's staff is able to account for the issues which occur and ask for reports and results. A 30-minute service interval at rush hour on a busy line there would be unheard of, and would certainly be something requiring significant mitigation and correction there. It doesn't seem to be the case here, since it seems to occur about once a week on each line.

So my question: what, if anything, does the MBTA to do promote accountability and transparency?


My sincere question is this

By on

If, after review, the answer is that the cars are the line are beyond useful life, what can be done other than doing what they are doing?

It would be good if the T did pass on to someone (I would love it be the public, but at least the board that is supposed to represent the public) the reasons for these failures. In the case of fault with signals, switches, rails, and power, there should be a post event list of actions that could be taken to prevent this in the future, but what action can be taken when the trains are too old other than doing what the T is doing- getting newer vehicles?

Your "car only" argument is getting old

By on

The infrastructure: the tunnels, the bridges, the stations, AND the cars are falling apart. You can have shiny new cars. but they won't matter if the stations are collapsing, on fire, filled with smoke, flooded, or filled with ice on a regular basis


By on

Go up to the top of this article. Look at what Adam wrote. Then go out and buy a clue.

Ari has a valid point. I always respect his opinion. You, on the other hand, lack a name and never really ponder the aggregation of Adam’s posts. I do. Take away trains dying and the system runs well. Heck, I ride the Orange Line twice a day and think that by and large it runs well. Some time ponder how little you read about the Blue Line, whose trains are the newest. Think there might be a link?

You piqued my interest, so I did a review

By on

I looked at every article Adam tagged with "the T" for a one week period up to yesterday. That would be the 23rd through the 29th. Here's what I found.

Adam posted 13 articles where there was something wrong with the T. Two of them involved the commuter rail. One was a truck striking a bridge, so the T isn't to blame there, and the other was a switch at Forest Hills, which is Amtrak's problem. Quick quiz- without looking, can you guess who is the federal equivalent of Stephanie Pollack?

In the week, here's the breakdown of the other lines-
Red- 4 train deaths along with a dead trolley plus an issue with ice on the platform at Quincy Center, which is not technically a performance issue, but an issue of concern
Orange- 4 train deaths plus the power outages affecting Jackson and Forest Hills, which again didn't cause delays unless you are mobility impaired. As a bonus, on the commuter rail switch, someone else and I discussed the medical that day at Forest Hills.
Green- 1 dead trolley plus the power issue in Brookline.
Blue- unsurprisingly, the line with the newest trains had no issues.

So, just looking at performance issues, we are talking 10 dead trains/trolleys and one power issue. So yeah, the dead cars are the main issue.

So wrong it hurts

By on

My co-workers take the Blue Line. multiple fires and multiple break downs in January. Stop the nonsense

I picked this past week

By on

Which was more typical than when we had two weeks where the thermometer didn't go above freezing. Yes, there were a few issues on the Blue Line this month, but it is smooth sailing compared to the Orange or the eternally bad Red Lines.

Sorry, not on twitter

By on

But you can take a week in the life of the twitter feed of the T and do the analysis for us. Until then, what Adam posted is the dataset we have to work with.

Also, if I were to go anecdotally, I'd say that the Orange Line was once again good during that time period, since the delay due to the medical issue at Forest Hills was the only thing that slowed any of my 9 commutes (I had a thing in Dorchester one day. so no Orange Line for me.)

The Blue Line Also Has Newer Signal And Power Systems

By on

Sure, the Blue Line's newer trains help make it more reliable, but there's much more to it than that. The Blue Line's signal system is newer and more advanced than the other lines, and includes an automatic "trip stop" feature. Additionally, the Blue Line's power system is not only newer than other lines, it uses overhead catenary instead of third-rail for the above ground section, making it much more resilient to winter weather.

In fact, the whole Blue Line power system was rebuilt and upgraded to support the new, bigger Siemens trains, which operate with six cars instead of the previous four cars per train. Stations were enlarged and other track improvements were also performed before the new trains were put into service.

The pretends as though, because new trains have been ordered, there's nothing else they need to do to improve the rest of the system. Even if the new Chinese trains perform perfectly, the Red and Orange lines will continue to be plagued with problems due to their ailing signal, power, and other subsystems. Those things should be brought up to a good state of repair now, while we're waiting for the new trains.

Instead, only after the new trains arrive, and when the same failures keep occurring, will the announce another multi-decade project to upgrade the other track-related infrastructure.

But that speaks to Ari's overall point

By on

Which I support. The reality is that not much can be done when trains die except to bandage what ails the train and await the next time it breaks down.

Heck, I'd love to see the T get up to a good state of repair. Every time a signal or switch ruins a commute, I do fume slightly. When a train dies, what can we do? Down the road, I'd love to see the T institute a signaling systems like what they are installing in London. No more blocks, since the system can account for the exact location of each train on the line. The Victoria Line is running at sub two minute headways during rush hours with this system. A train every 90 seconds!

But as it is, the main driver of the problems on the subway is the rolling stock. Sure, they could have an after action every time a train dies, but again, what can be done other than what they are doing?

From the public's perspective

By on

From the public's perspective, they are reactionary. It would be nice to see they have a long-term plan that goes beyond "when trains start to die, we will buy new ones".

Answer: Conflict of Interest

By on

This is where conflict of interest comes into play. When a pollster sends out news that most residents believe the T is improving. However, the pollster is friends with the spouse of the secretary.

T fails riders every day

By on

Kudos to Universal Hub for performing a civic service by highlighting the daily travails of commuters on subways and trains. Gov. Baker could do more to fix the regional economy by paying down the MBTA's infrastructure deficit... than he could by chasing Amazon.

The unreliability of this decrepit, under invested and long neglected system should be the #1 issue in the governor's race this year.