The MBTA says it's shutting down its GPS-based arrival system along Washington Street tomorrow to comply with a federal mandate to change the frequencies used by the system.
The T says it expects to have the system up and running by Sept. 24. The FCC is forcing the T to change frequencies to keep the system from possibly interfering with public-safety services. The T adds:
In addition, Global Positioning System (GPS) technology will be unavailable to dispatchers in the MBTA's Bus Operations Control Center. As a result, bus dispatchers will not have the capability of making real time schedule adjustments. As the MBTA’s mobile radios are reprogrammed, they will begin to migrate over to the new frequency set and begin to populate the data system. Completion is slated for September 24th, but communications personnel are determined to complete the transition before that date.
... Aloisi and Chang-Diaz getting breakfast @ Brother's...
Ed. question: Is there any station in all of T-land with a better name than Ruggles? I'd rank it even higher than Wonderland.
This week's Friday-afternoon issue: Disabled Green Line train at Haymarket.
Also heavy delays reported on the bus rapid transit line due to traffic on Washington Street.
It's a short list, Lynne tweets: someone PULLING A KNIFE ON THE BUS DRIVER ON THE SILVER LINE AND THREATENING HER.
Said person was off the bus with her toddler when this all went down; situation resolved by driving away from inbound Herald St stop.
They have lots of gravel roads in the country. Bill Daras posts some photos showing that the Silver Line tunnel past South Station is becoming a gravel road as well:
... If someone paved your driveway so that it felt like a dirt road, was flooded 24/7 and started to turn back to gravel after five years you would have the contractor rip it up and start again. In Boston you just let it go, and ask for over a billion dollars to do it all over again.
Josh Stevens ranks various airports on their ground transportation and declares Logan "most bewildering" because of the Silver Line:
If a camel is a horse designed by committee, then Boston's Silver Line BRT (with scant emphasis on the "R") is a transit line designed by a committee of camels. In the course of a 20-minute trip to South Station, the Silver Line seems to pass through every stage of man and a few states of matter to boot. ...
Via Robert David Sullivan, who wonders if Stevens would have appreciated the Silver Line more if he'd also tried either a cab or the shuttle bus/Blue Line.
UPDATE: The 28X project is dead.
The state will use $114 million in federal stimulus funds to build enhanced bus corridors along Washington Street and Blue Hill Avenue over the next three years, officials announced at a Dudley Station ceremony today.
Most immediately, Dudley will get a direct Silver Line connection to South Station this fall - which brought exclamations of joy from state Rep. Bryon Rushing, because the plan does not involve a billion-dollar tunnel under the Common.
"The tunnel is dead! The tunnel is dead!" he yelled.
Here's a longish interview with Walter Hook, director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, in which he extols the virtues of "bus rapid transit" systems as being able to provide as good service as trolleys at a fraction of the cost in crowded urban areas.
Well, in most cases:
... Of course, you can mess up a BRT system, and Boston's Silver Line proved that you could waste almost as much money on BRT as you can on a rail system. ...
Via CommonWealth Unbound.
P.S. MBTA, I think I was a bit too hard on you in my previous letter. Today my commute was quick and painless. Miracle of miracles, when I arrived at my usually crowded above-ground stop on the green line this morning, an EMPTY train was waiting, and mind you, that station is not at the beginning or end of a line. How did you know that I couldn't have asked for a better occurrence on a Friday? Did you read my post from my yesterday? Not only was the train not overly crowded but the ride was relatively smooth and non-jerky.
The Kane County Chronicle reports the suburban-Chicago county is looking at the Silver Line as a way to improve bus service along a crowded corridor. Officials there are looking forward to dedicated bus lanes and manipulating traffic signals to speed buses.
Wait, what did you say?
Because they don't think the in-debt-to-its-eyeballs T can come up with its 40% share of the $1.5-billion bus tunnel, the Globe reports.
The Outraged Liberal can't wait, says this might finally be the kick in the teeth the state needs to come up with an actual, serious plan for dealing with all of the region's transportation issues:
... But then again, this is Massachusetts. If we could tax words, we would be swimming in cash.
On Switchback, Bill picks up on something in that recently released proposal for improving Boston Common: That city councilors Mike Ross, Bill Linehan and Sal LaMattina really wish the MBTA would stop with all this nonsense about putting a Silver Line tunnel under the park. They write:
The Silverline project will rip up the entire stretch of the Common along Charles Street for up to 10 years, for the staging area for heavy equipment. It will snarl traffic as they close a lane for the construction of a new tunnel, and it will make an entire stretch of the Common nearly unusable during that time. All of this will be done for the purpose of putting in bus transit that is unnecessary, when tunnels already exist for light rail, and when it is nearly universally agreed that the bus system as set up does not work, and is not nearly as effective or efficient as light rail.
The Silverline Project is a mistake. The plans in place will disturb sacred grounds, such as the historic graveyard. Unused light rail tunnels already exist below ground, and the MBTA, with its multimillion dollar deficit, should be looking at ways it can build a system around what is there, and ensuring that we have opportunities to become a greener, more efficient city while not tearing up our precious parks system during the construction.
Ed. note: The T has a multi-billion dollar deficit.
Train Rider managed to get wet hair without even stepping out of South Station this morning:
... While I was waiting for the Silver Line, another commuter dropped their orange juice all over me and some guy. The person was walking down the stairs and the OJ fell over. It actually spilled on my head. So my hair is all crusty now. ...
The Lone Rider adds them to his list of Silver Line buses he will never get on again. Latest on his list: Bus 1131, which broke down in the Ted Williams Tunnel, causing a horrific traffic jam that meant it took him 47 minutes to get from Logan to South Station.
Alicia, meanwhile, uses her BlackBerry to report that the driver on the 7 bus is actually going too fast:
... She is speeding like crazy and then slams on the breaks if she has to pick someone up. Everyone's heads are whipping forward when she finally decides to break last minute. If there is a service slowdown going on, this chick is definitely boycotting it. Ugh, I need a barf bag. ...
A bankrupt MBTA continues to press for a $1.2-billion bus tunnel linking the two legs of the Silver Line even though officials have no idea how they'll pay for it:
Daniel A. Grabauskas, general manager of the MBTA, calls the Silver Line Phase III a good transit project, but does not explain how his agency can afford it, other than borrowing more money and hoping for a longer-term fix to the T's budget problems from the state government.
The Outraged Liberal is not amused:
... [L]et's assume, foe the sake of argument, that we somehow miraculously find the money. Does anyone believe the MBTA will bring this project in on time and one budget? Can you say Kenmore Station? ...
MBTA planners say it's time to ditch the little used City Point branch of the Silver Line and instead beef up resources on the Marine Industrial Park leg. Also? Green Line riders? No relief for overcrowded trolleys for you, sorry.
The MBTA's recently released Draft 2008 Service Plan discusses conditions on every single T subway, trolley and bus route and makes recommendations for the T board of directors.
In addition to canning the SL3 route, planners also want to eliminate the 500 express bus from Riverside to downtown, the 6 bus from Haymarket to South Station, the 48 bus between the JP Monument and the Orange Line. But they also propose increasing service on the 1 line, extending the 4 line out of North Station to Tide Street in South Boston and the 225 bus that now ends at Weymouth Landing to South Weymouth.
In the subway section of the report, planners mark the Green Line with a failure stamp, saying that while it's getting better, it's still failing to meet MBTA criteria for on-time performance. Also? The trolleys tend to be overcrowded - except on the E branch and on the main trunk - but that there are no resources to deal with that.
Schedule of public hearings on the proposal - between Sept. 8 and 29.
Third Decade cannot believe the MBTA has a spare $1.2 billion lying around to dig a bus tunnel to connect the two Silver Lines:
... [T]he MBTA is determined to build a tunnel where no one wants it for a transit route that the people who live near it don't even want. ...
Hilarity ensues when the power goes out and the substitute buses are routed to South Station:
... Another thing about the Silver Line is that all of the T employees were yelling at people not to board them when they arrived. This is pretty strange, considering the Airport station is not on its usual route. So apparently the MBTA were re-routing Silver-Line buses with the sole intention of taunting everyone late for work stuck in a huge crowd. ...
Yes, it's another episode of "Compare a busy, decaying Blue Line stop to the stunning, rarely used Courthouse stop on the Silver Line." Today's contestant: Fabulously Out There, who reports from the decaying steps leading from the Blue Line to the Orange Line at historic State Street station:
... There is a woman sitting on the stairs and a MBTA dude standing in front of her.
My immediate thought? A drunk? This early. Jesus christ. Then I noticed her business attire clothing and while I am walking down the stairs I am noticing several chunks of one of them crumbled on the floor.......then I pass the lady and she's in tears holding her ankle talking on her cell phone while the MBTA guy talks on his walkie-talkie. ...
Maverick vs. Courthouse.
To maintain their blood pressure, regular users of the Blue Line's Maverick station should probably avoid the Silver Line's beautiful, little used Courthouse station:
... The Maverick Station in East Boston that has a thousand times more use and serves the local public on a daily basis, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Now it has apparently been put on the back burner as the under funded, poor quality of materials and lack of oversight and caring of our local publicly elected officials should be in the spotlight. ...
A fight at a Silver Line bus stop at Melnea Cass Boulevard and Washington Street around 4:30 p.m. yesterday ended with the stabbing death of one man: Yiovany Gazmey, 37.
Two people who fled on a bus were arrested: Juan Ramirez, 25, will be charged with murder, and 29-year-old Aida Rodriquez will be charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
The knife fight came less than a day after two teenagers were stabbed at the Roxbury Crossing T stop (both are expected to live).
Miss von Schtoop, who works in the area, reports traffic was an absolute mess and wonders if the two incidents were related:
... Hopefully it's not just random. I walk in that direction to go to work and one time I did see a very angry man waving a big kitchen knife. I crossed the street and wound up walking the rest of the way home with a neighbor. ...
MBTA police say violent and theft-related crime in the transit system dropped 10% last year, but that non-violent crime, such as public drunkeness and lewdness, vandalism and mouthing off (a.k.a. "simple assault") went up 12%.
In terms of percentages, the Blue Line was the most peaceful line, barely beating out the Green Line. Surprisingly, commuter rail had almost as many violent incidents per 100,000 riders as the Orange Line, although in both cases, the odds of getting attacked or robbed were still fairly small (0.45 incidents per 100,000 riders on the Orange Line; 0.41 on commuter rail).