After uproar, state withdraws planned changes for North Station commuter-rail routes for now

MassDOT and the MBTA today withdrew impending changes to the schedules of North Station commuter-rail line, saying they will come up with new proposed schedules next month to go into effect this spring - after public comment.

In December, the MBTA will release in draft form proposed new schedules for both North Side and South Side services, along with specific plans for extensive public engagement. Following the period of public engagement, MassDOT and the MBTA will make changes based on the feedback received and then implement the new schedules for the entire Commuter Rail system in spring 2016.

State officials insist the changes will help "minimize cascading failures and ensure that on-time service can be delivered both safely and consistently." But in a statement, state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack acknowledged:

The MBTA needs to do more than provide reliable Commuter Rail service to our customers - it needs to listen to those customers and understand their needs and concerns and incorporate them into service planning. We understand that even small challenges in long-standing schedules impact the daily lives of our riders and we need to hear and incorporate their feedback before finalizing schedule changes.

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Plus the printing costs for

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Plus the printing costs for the new schedules and any other expenses T "leadership" (a term I use loosely) just threw away.

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I wish I'd gotten a few more...

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...souvenir "SPSF*" (Shouldn't Print So Fast) schedules. Only got one Haverhell sadly.

*Gratuitous railroad history nerd reference.

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Art

They'll just say they decided to reinstate the Art on the T program and spent the $300k on a performance art piece.

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"Cascading failure" is

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"Cascading failure" is something the T makes an art form.

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Small changes?

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"We understand that even small [changes] in long-standing schedules impact the daily lives of our riders."

Cutting service at some stations by 20-40% is not a "small change."

"[W]e need to hear and incorporate their feedback before finalizing schedule changes."

Really, ya think? Maybe you should have done this in the first place! Whoever thought that it would be a good idea to unilaterally make unvetted major changes and that everyone would just say "yeah, okay, whatever" must have been smoking something really strong.

And of course with MassDOT SOP they spend $300k on a schedule change that is spec'ed so badly that it can't even be implemented.

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feedback

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we need to hear and incorporate their feedback before finalizing schedule changes

I bet HDR engineering billed the T $50,000 for this keen observation.

Telling that T management apparently thought to put more effort into soliciting riders' input on cars' paint schemes (an effort at which they also failed at first) than on the schedules that affect tens of thousands of riders.

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Basically how the T runs the

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Basically how the T runs the subway when they have to shut down a whole track to do work they neglected for four decades. (I lived through this shit on the orange line ca. 2004-5.)

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Call me cynical

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But this whole schedule redo proposal almost sounds like it was intended to fail, as a deliberate prelude to Keolis/MBTA introducing the actual schedule changes. Something along the lines of "Let's propose something so outrageous that's sure to be immediately rejected. Then the schedule changes we actually want to implement are more likely to be accepted with minimal objection."

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if "development of a Plan B" was actually included in HDR's scope of work.

And for those who doubt me, this practice appears to have been chapter and verse every time the T proposes fare increases and/or service cuts.

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Keolis staff was handing out

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Keolis staff was handing out new printed timetables the other day. I can't believe that these new schedules were intended to be discarded all along.

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You may have a point there

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OTOH, how much did it REALLY cost to print those schedules - especially when you consider they paid HDR $300,000 to do the study.

Again, I hope I'm wrong about this, but the cynic in me (and witnessing almost 40 years of MBTA 'management' in action) says otherwise.

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That sounds like it might be...

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...a little too much credit. Then again maybe this is a good way to defeat the notion of expanded express service. Just like the advance version of the "Worcester Bullet" seems likely to be revised.

Maybe there is something here...

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Not a diabolical scheme

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This isn't an outfit thAt thinks 3 steps ahead.

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The MBTA needs to do more

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The MBTA needs to do more than provide reliable Commuter Rail service to our customers

Actually, just being able to provide reliable service would be really quite helpful.

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North Station commuter rail users

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may have dodged a bullet with the new schedules (for now). But that isn't stopping the T from trying to inconvenience them in other ways.

Starting January 2: Green Line and Orange Line Notice: Beginning Saturday, January 2, 2016, North Station's north entrance/exit will be permanently closed.

Due to construction of the Boston Garden Development, the Orange and Green Line's north entrance/exit at North Station will be closed permanently starting Saturday, January 2, 2016. A new underground passageway will be constructed in order to provide customers with a direct connection between the Green Line, Orange Line, and Commuter Rail. The new passageway will open in approximately three years.

To exit and enter North Station, please use the entrance/exit across Causeway Street.

During this time, North Station Elevator 941 will be closed. If exiting, return to the fare lobby to use North Station Elevator 912 (lobby to Causeway Street). If boarding, cross Causeway Street to use North Station Elevator 912 (lobby to street).

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It is quite exciting to hear

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It is quite exciting to hear that they're FINALLY building a direct connection between the subway and the CR concourse though. That's something I've never understood why didn't get built when both stations were rebuilt a few years back.

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Yes, a direct underground connection

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into North Station CR concourse will be a good thing. However, I'm still trying to figure out why the existing underground subway concourse needs to be completely closed for three years to do this.

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