The number two item in the MBTA customer bill of rights reads: Your safety is our top priority. If we are not performing to your standards, please 'write to the top'. Top level management will respond. Given my interest in personal safety and experiences with the T, I had the opportunity to try this out.
To me, riding the T is usually painless, but getting on the "C" line "train" in Cleveland Circle can be hazardous to my health. Getting to the "T" platform in this area requires crossing Beacon Street near Reservoir Liquors or Maryann's Bar. Both locations have poorly maintained street lights and crosswalks that have faded into oblivion. For several months the green lights on the traffic light and the pedestrian walk lights were burned out leading drivers to believe they were out of service. The end result is that many drivers do not stop when the traffic lights turn red, leaving pedestrians to jump out of harms way when a driver barrels through. This problem is compounded by drivers who use the crosswalk area for parking and delivery liquor store delivery trucks who use it for unloading.
Although the man/train accident was at Park Street, commuters elsewhere on the line report the same sort of chaos that broke out there. In a letter to T officials, Goose details what happened at Downtown Crossing:
The Red Line train I was on was stopped about 20 yards short of the platform at Downtown Crossing. We were held there without light or ventilation for 20 minutes. Why wasn't the train moved to the platform before shutting off the power? Any additional emergency that might have occurred on stopped trains would have compounded the crisis. ...
Other problems the T should fix: Non-functioning PA systems, inadequate crowd control and a blocked off Park Street (which meant problems for the shuttle buses that were supposed to ferry riders around Park Street).
Mr. Mac describes what happened when a Red Line train, stuck in the tunnel for quite some time at rush hour, pulled into Park Street and discharged passengers this morning:
... Instead of letting people on the train, the conductor kept closing and opening the doors in a chopping fashion, striking the passengers entering the train with no warning. This went on for a full minute. I saw an old woman get violently knocked in the head a few times while she was trapped in the doorway - enough to disorient her, as well as some other sturdier people get knocked off balance as they were trying to get on the train. I expected, at the very least, to hear an announcement that the doors would be closing and then re-opening, or that this train is out of service - but no. The conductor kept saying "Use all of the cars, use all of the cars, use all of the cars, use all of the cars" (?) in a mocking fashion ...
But there's a happy ending, sort of. Read the note from Maureen Shirkus, Chief, Red Line Operations.
Filmgirl99 is waiting at the Fenway commuter stop when the train comes barrelling through and doesn't stop - again:
... The MBTA service is getting worse and worse these past couple of months. Usually they just try to avoid picking up passengers, by having the same bitchy conductress yell impatiently through the loudspeakers that there's another train coming right behind this one. She knows it's a lie; we know it's a lie. And yet she does it just about every day anyway.
Suggestion 7,012 for how to increase T ridership by not pissing off existing riders so much they all go out and buy SUVs: If you need to have a train stop at the wrong platform, see if there are people in the station who are waiting for it where it normally stops:
... A few of the passengers went onboard and managed to find a conductor. They brought back bad news: it was the Needham Heights train, apparently six minutes late. I had a horrible suspicion, and looked at the opposite, inbound side of the tracks. Sure enough, another train had quietly pulled in on that side, and as we passengers headed towards it, it started up and pulled away.
William, the biggest bastard-conductor on the entire line, pointedly ignored the thirty or so passengers who called out to him, asking which train it was. Another conductor took pity on us and said "Franklin!". But despite the pleas of the passengers, the train didn't stop. To say that the thirty of us were angry would be a huge understatement. ...
Newly arrived from California, Susan quickly gets lessons in how our fair state's insurance and mass-transit systems really work. First, she's forced to lie about where she got her car, because it was a gift from her aunt and the official form for insurance doesn't list "aunt" as a family member from whom gifts are acceptable:
... I was confused, as I listened to two insurance professionals loudly discuss how to violate insurance law. I mean, granted, Massachusetts seems to have an inordinate number of rules and regulations, but I assumed that was because people LIKED rules and regulations. This appears not to be the case. ...
But for true fun, read her account of trying to buy a T pass.
Urbanoutback tries driving to work and, amazingly, discovers he actually misses taking the T. Except for the announcements:
... I ALWAYS take my bags and personal belongings when exiting the train, and I think we all know we should by now. And if I hear that stagy "If you see something, say something!" announcement one more goddamn time, I'm going to rip out my cochleas and throw them at you, Joseph Carter, MBTA Chief of Police. Announcements alone will not make the T safe, altough more policemen might help. Like, enough policemen to notice the guy peeing off the corner of the opposite platform onto the tracks in Downtown Crossing yesterday? You want something to see? I saw something! Way more something than was necessary, and there was nobody to say something about it to!"
So the T had to do some maintenance work on the Orange Line over the weekend (next weekend, too) that involved shutting down one track and stopping northbound service at Downtown Crossing. You'd think that since this was planned they could post signs at the entrances to the affected stations - and give T workers the right shuttle information to give riders, right? Hey, this is the T we're talking about. What do you think?
When I reached Downtown Crossing to take the Orange Line for Sulivan Square, the T Staff said the line was not working and there were shuttle buses at Park Street. I walked to Park Street but no signs of buses. Then I called up T. They said the same thing. Then I went to the station underground and the staff was directing everyone to take the Green Line to Haymarket station where the shuttle buses were. ...
... What bothers me is they couldn't even tell me upfront at Haymarket that the train was running oddly. They just told me to go to Park St. and pick up the train there. Also, they couldn't just put up a sign (even just a quickly scrawled one taped to the collector's booth) at the entrance to the station telling me that I couldn't take the orange line from there. ...
J.M. also ran into the Orange Line non-service:
... The worst part is that there's little to no signage at street level to tell you what's going on between Downtown Crossing and Haymarket, either. No T employees, either. And when you finally get to Downtown Crossing, you don't find out that they're using the inbound side to get people on the trains until you get down to the outbound side and see all the yellow tape. ...
It was all enough to make Pelican declare enough is enough:
... This debacle coupled with the generally shitty service, delays (I shouldn't have to allot one hour to take the T from Stony Brook to Chinatown or Downtown Crossing), messy cars, unintelligible loudspeakers, delays, busses that don't arrive and then when they do there are three one after another (nod to No. 39), poorly maintained stations, absolutely no coherent signs (why are there still those signs from the DNC still stuck to station walls?), and more delays have made me want to have a city-wide conversation about the T. I hear proposed lines are being cut (Silver), nothing is done about the mess in JP with the busses vs. Green Line extension, and no one seems happy. Is it time to talk about the elephant in the room?
Special bonus Orange Line photo bonanza: Please, be gentle.
The Transport Avenger reports on official reaction to his letter complaining about how it took MBTA police 20 minutes to respond to a report of a suspicious bag thrown on the Green Line tracks at North Station just three days after the first London bombings: He got a form letter from Mitt Romney and nothing from anybody at the MBTA:
... Why didn't the police arrive immediately, especially after the London bombings mere days ago?
The MBTA and the Governor have been saying the patrols of the system have been increased, yet there was not one officer at North Station, nor at Downtown Crossing on our way back out of the city.
The only difference was the announcements from Romney to say something if you see it. ...
Nervous Maverick wishes the T would take all the money it's spending on security-awareness pamphlets and use it for actual security:
... so thank you mbta for your good intentions, but save the money you spend on glossy pamphlets and billboard signs and buy some bomb-sniffing dogs. put a few more officers on duty each shift. install more cameras in the tunnels and on the trains. do something that will actually make a difference. don't remind me to be more aware, because trust me, in the past four years there hasn't been a time where i haven't been exremely aware of my surroundings, decisions and safety.
Marilora says she wasn't a happy little Blue Line rider yesterday:
... Especially when I realized the the MBTA's version of stepping up security was to incessantly play it's "See Something, Say Something" campaign announcements in Government Center station and for T drivers to keep asking people to "please take all their belongings." Ummm. That's all well and good, but how about some real, actual security MBTA? I did not see any MBTA police in Maverick or Government Center this morning. I didn't really expect to see any at Maverick, but I figured Government Center, being literally under City Hall, might get a little bit of extra security this morning. Silly me. ...
The Tall Boston Law Student agrees enough is enough with the pamphlets and says one of the best ways the T could enhance security would be to just do its main job:
... Everyone is all about T safety since the London bombings. If heaven forbid there is a bombing though, its going to be waaaay more catastrophic than it should be because the stations and trains will be jam packed with people because the T can't do the one single thing they are supposed to do, keep the trains running on time! ...
... Those security measures are all just for dumb show; it's all so pointless, really. Either we're bombed or we're not, and extra police officers in the T stations aren't going to do a damned thing. ...
The Night Owl service has been cancelled in Boston as of last night (Friday, 24th). My sister and I just spent an hour waiting for it in front of the Boston Common theater, before and MBTA official informed us it wouldn't be coming then, or anytime in the future.. And good luck hailing a cab down there... That took an additional hour and fifteen minutes.....
Dear green line operator who insists on saying "North Station will be our last and final stop...North Station will be our last and final stop..." every morning,
QUIT IT ALREADY!