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All commuter lines to South Station are dead, Amtrak signal woes have riders seeing red

Commuter rail riders crushed at Forest Hills on the Orange Line

Orange crushed: Keolis refugees at Forest Hills. Photo by Michael Morgenstern.

It's Amtrakageddon this morning as trains can't get past Back Bay and the T throws up its hands and tells riders to find some other way to get to work. That sort of worked for riders coming in from the west, but riders on trains from the South Shore got on Red Line trains that just sat there.

UPDATE, 9:50 a.m.:

MassDOT reports the Franklin Line is getting through to South Station, but all other lines are terminating short of the terminal, to disgorge passengers into stations where they can get on the Red or Orange Lines, supposedly without having to pay.

The Amtrak issue at South Station involves the failure of a switch control and has resulted in all but one commuter rail train being able to arrive at South Station for the morning commute. The only commuter rail line which has its final destination at South Station this morning is the Franklin Line.

While Amtrak continues to work on the signal issue at its Tower 1 at South Station, the following commuter rail lines are providing free transfers to commuter rail passengers at these locations:

  • Greenbush commuter rail line transfers are occurring at Quincy.
  • Kingston commuter rail line transfers are occurring at Braintree.
  • Middleborough commuter rail line transfers are occurring at JFK.
  • Worcester commuter rail line transfers are occurring at Back Bay.
  • Fairmount commuter rail line transfers are to shuttle buses located at New Market.
  • Needham commuter rail line transfers are occurring at Forest Hills and at Back Bay.
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Comments

Keep that in mind when you're stuck on the subway and CR this morning that Mr FixIt and his control board want you to pay more for such shitty service.

And it's going to come whether you like it or not. They haven't even finished the meetings about the overnight service, and they've already cut it. So I can pretty much guarantee that a fare increase will happen whether people complain about it or not. It's clear this round of public meetings is a load of bullshit and Charlie and his "Control Board" are going to jam a large fare increase down your throats regardless.

Get ready to pay alot more for service that degrades on a daily basis.

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If Baker announced $500+ million in new MBTA funding to specifically fix track/signal/etc problems but also tacked on a fare increase it wouldn't be so bad.

But instead he says that more cuts are coming, needed expansion is canceled, and oh, "Winter Happens" so don't expect reliable service.

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...tweeting pictures of packed Red and Orange Line conditions. In Bakerian logic, the answer will be even larger fare increases, since obviously the product is in such high demand.

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Maybe he read the articles on the artwork and elaborate station design of the Green Line Project to Somerville and got enlightened.The implosion of the infrastructure is going to take real experts to figure out and correct, and people will just have to take their medicine.

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Art was a fraction of a percent of the cost of the GLX.

Art is not the problem here.

As for station design, I for one would rather we build them properly, and not repeat the mistakes of the D Line. And pay-on-board works so well on the rest of the system, right?

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The D line has stations?

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Tweeting will solve these problems.

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Everybody in the discussion pool!

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Tweeting at the governor is infinitely more likely to help than anon comments on Uhub.

Anyway I've already contacted several elected officials' offices today. What about you?

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If I saw more funding to fix the real issues, I'd warm up to a fare increase. But all we get are cuts, cuts, cuts, cuts and failing service.

A serious conversation about the T's funding needs to happen between Baker, his Control Board, and the Legislature. But it seems like that won't happen...

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The power players here- , Baker, Deleo, Rosenberg are either T hostile (Rosenberg) or indifferent (Deleo, Baker). While neighboring to Boston, clearly the good people of Wintrop are not seriously impacted by the MBTA closures and here we are.

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...the business and real estate development communities that are making bundles in this city don't seem to understand how close to failure the MBTA is, and how much the city will cease to function without it. The attitude seems to be "Yeah, smells like something's bad, but I'm sure someone will sort it out..."

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And you're crying about a small fare increase. It's the trains that are failing, and new ones have been ordered, but Deval waited until a couple years ago to finally get the order submitted. Blame Deval if you want to blame anyone for the MTBA's current state.

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It's the timing. Don't ask riders to pay more when trains fail daily.

No I blame baker still. He wants to cut cut and privatize the system. Not actually fix it.

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Baker has been Governor for ONE YEAR!! It seems like you expecting him to fix it over night... I'm sure if he had a 'D' by his name, you'd have other excuses for the T not working.

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Shows how much you know about me.. No, a D or an R next to their name doesn't matter. FWIW, I didn't vote for a D or a R in the last election, I voted for a third party.

Secondly, I don't care if they are a D or an R. I want transit service that runs the way it should. Not break down daily. I want solutions, not more problems.

Third, a year is no excuse. Baker very quickly brought together a control board within WEEKS of in office, he could easily use his executive power to do something else if he really wanted to. But he doesn't, and that control board is nothing more than shills for him to do his dirty work so he doesn't look like Koch puppet.

If Baker wants me to vote for him, I need to see some serious change in the T now. Not Cuts. Not Raised Fares. Not Privatization. He can do it if he really wanted to, but no, he wants to privatize it and give it away to his cronies.

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But Baker is the one who came up with the funding plan that saddled the T with so much debt in the first place. It started when he was in the Weld administration, not when he became governor.

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*Dr. Evil pinky*

Remind me how much the state and federal government contributed to highway maintenance last year, champ? And then tell me how much you're paying to drive on 93 every day? Infrastructure costs money. When that infrastructure is vital to the economic lifeblood of the state's largest revenue center, it's a net gain to make sure it keeps functioning.

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So, nice try with the driving on 93 comment. You brought up the highway maintenance cost last year comparison, so you tell me how much the state and federal government are paying. I agree infrastructure costs money, but the people that use that infrastructure should be paying for said use. Obviously the MBTA is seriously broken and maybe more money is the answer, but it should be a shared responsibility. The fact that there are a bunch of MBTA workers that are making 250K+ without a college degree is pretty telling too as far as money management. In my opinion, throwing more money at the problem isn't going to fix anything.

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The fact that there are a bunch of MBTA workers that are making 250K+ without a college degree

[CITATION NEEDED]

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You're on Universal Hub and don't read the news? I assume you've heard of Mark Flaherty. The MBTA employee that almost quadrupled his base salary last year. Anyways, here's your requested citation:

http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/databases/payroll?database=6&ye...

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How many hours did he actually work to get that salary? And if the high amount of overtime is because there aren't enough workers to do the job, that reflects on poor MANAGEMENT decisions, and not the rank and file.

But go ahead and wallow in your warped delusion that government workers should be paid minimum wage and work tireless hours for no additional compensation.

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Do the math! It's not that hard! The guy almost quadrupled his salary and you're suggesting that he put his time in. In what world is that even possible without Union loop holes? Assuming you work 40hr/wk you need to put in an additional 3000+ hours a year, assuming he's making double time ($80/hr). There are only 2080 work hours in a year assuming no vacation!!!!! This is one of the reasons why the MBTA sucks and why any additional state funding will just go to situations like this.

Minimum wage. Hahaha, that's just funny to think about when we're discussion someone that made $325K last year as a foreperson. I guess you think $325K/yr is a fair wage for a average employee. Where do you work? I want a job there.

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Last winter, us T riders were more than happy that these guys were working 56 hours of overtime, mainly because they were dealing with getting the crappy rolling stock back on the lines.

This is what pisses me off about the Baker administration. They are distorting the numbers to make T employees out to be lazy and overpaid. Remember the whole thing about staff not being at work? They included mandatory trainings as times when staff were not at work. They made that sound like leave abuse.

People have made a good point about depending on overtime, which values lowering the FTE count while increasing labor costs, but this guy (and the guys in his shop) totally earned their overtime last winter.

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Where in the hell are all of the corporate leaders and business community when it comes to unreliable transit and the impacts on productivity?

The T should be a huge feature, not a drain on the economy - AND BAKER NEEDS TO HEAR THIS FROM THE ONLY CONSTITUENCY THAT HE GIVES ENOUGH OF A SHIT TO LISTEN TO!

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^^^Hit the nail on the head.

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Where in the hell are all of the corporate leaders and business community when it comes to unreliable transit and the impacts on productivity?

I know where they're not: riding the MBTA.

Want to fix the problem? Make every Boston-based elected official, and every single MBTA employee, top to bottom, take the T to work. Oh, and no free parking, no free passes, no bennies whatsoever. Pay out of your own pocket and ride with the masses. Suck it up, buttercup!

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How exactly do you expect every MBTA employee to take the T to work without the T running 24 hours? Someone has to get there in the morning to get the trains rolling.

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How exactly do you expect every MBTA employee to take the T to work without the T running 24 hours?

Look what you did there!!!

Hey, I'll make an exception for the first-shift and last-shift workers who actually drive the trains. What percentage of MBTA employees do you think that is? Well, never mind, you're really making my point. Let's assume that all MBTA employees EXCEPT those who have to get there in the morning to get the trains rolling, are forced to take the T to work. If the MBTA breaks down at 8 am, those employees can't get to work. Imagine it! And -- wait for it -- neither can everybody else who uses the T.

That's the status quo. That's what is happening right now. All those other people, whatever it is they do, whatever services they provide, it ain't gonna happen because it's a day ending in a y and that means there are "switching problems" in Braintree. You don't think that has an impact? You don't think that causes problems?

Of course I'm not serious about forcing MBTA employees to take the T to work -- not because it wouldn't have the desired effect, but because you couldn't enforce it. You could definitely take a step in the right direction by getting rid of all parking for T employees at their places of work, and you could have a word with senior T management to the effect that you're paying attention to how they get to work, but you could never actually force them to do it. But if you could? I wager you'd see a lot of supposedly intractable problems get fixed toot sweet.

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So I can pretty much guarantee that a fare increase will happen whether people complain about it or not. It's clear this round of public meetings is a load of bullshit and Charlie and his "Control Board" are going to jam a large fare increase down your throats regardless.

I have no clue what kind of feedback a public comment period on a fare hike is supposed to generate. There's no way the T is going to generate price elasticity curves from a few rants. And you don't need to have feedback to arrive at the conclusion that riders don't want to pay more for service. I guess maybe the public comment period is required by law in some cases, and maybe it's good PR, but it seems so utterly pointless.

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How is it the MBTA's fault that Amtrak messed up?

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"People should seek alternate means of transportation" and those alternate means (Orange and Red Lines) don't have adequate capacity or reliability to handle the increased load, that falls on the MBTA, not Amtrak.

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But the MBTA is THE "alternate means of transportation."

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...the MBTA/MassDOT's railroad. Then again, Northeast Corridor ownership & control is a messy issue here in Mass.

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...dead northbound Red Line train just outside of South Station, delays up to "severe."

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My morning:

My usual train out of Readville, the 7:15am Fairmont, was terminating at Newmarket due to signal problems. Bus transportation was being provided to get commuters to South Station. So...

I decided to take the Franklin train arriving at Reaville at 7:23am (note: this is the train that under the new proposed cuts will be eliminated). That came around 7:30am (Oh, the 7:15am finally arrived around 7:25am but who is counting.)

Before that, as we sat in the tunnel, I received a text message that I should find another way into the city.

Train finally made it to Back Bay where the conductor strongly suggested that we find another way to get to work this morning. That train terminated at Back Bay due to signal problems which was stuck behind another train terminated because of the signal problems.

I walked from Back Bay to work (MIT) since I also received texts that the subway (Orange and then the Red Line) committed Hari Kiri. Nice walk, actually.

(A couple of days ago, the 6:15pm Franklin was effected by signal problems. I arrived home about 30 minutes late).

I don't want to hear excuses anymore. I don't care if it is cold, raining, snowing, windy, leaves on the rails, expanding trails, too hot, not enough equipment, equipment is missing, aliens have landed, nothing. I don't want to pay more and I don't want service to be cut while paying more. Fix the GD thing, for pete's sake.

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First is that it appears that signal problems, for all the bitching about the MBTA, are totally on Amtrak on the commuter rail. They own it, I guess. So, maybe it's a mish-mash of old equipment that doesn't play well?
I'm wondering if a new 'latest tech' system built out from scratch (cost? I dunno. maybe some UH train folks can fill us in on the gory details) and installed, with the old system patched to keep it running until the new one is in place? (Oh, and tested through a winter)
It seems that most of the delays and especially the cascading ones are sig related.

As far as rolling stock, we are stuck with past decisions as far as building goes. It will arrive, duct tape the old stuff until then, but brand new train sets with old unreliable signalling won't really help...

F'rinstance...panels falling off...take a battery operated screwgun and drill a bunch of self-tapping screws into the panel to hold it on. You need access? Remove the screws. It's too rusty? Good (really good, 3M stuff) duct tape.

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So how many of the people constantly complaining here are actually doing anything about this? Are any of you even making sure your complaints get heard by anyone of import?

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As I said in another thread.. I went to three meetings and wrote my comments in.

Can't speak for anyone else..

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I usually do not say this but "FU!"

I have continually called our Gov's office and will do so this morning. I have signed petitions, on-line and off-line about the proposed cuts in service. Last winter, I was such a regular caller to his office, that his aids probably had a picture of me on their wall.

If you want to "troll" today why don't you pick some other choice topic like Donald Trump, or folks on welfare cheating the system or homeless people getting hats from the city's good sanitarians, Hokey?

Oh, by the way, "FU" again.

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...in a democracy is doing something. Whether commenting here, writing letters to the editors of the Globe, Herald, Patriot Ledger, Daily Evening Item, Salem Evening News, Daily Times-Chronicle etc., or going to meetings, or emailing, tweeting, or writing letters to your reps, senators or the governor. Please don't downplay the importance of voicing an opinion.

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8 people in twitter got the Olympics to go away. :-)

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Enough already. Just impose a State Tax surcharge similar to what LBJ did and direct the funds to MBTA infrastructures. Any political tampering or machinations to this fund punishable by the highest possible penalties.

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There's an awful lot of Massachusetts that isn't served by the MBTA, that didn't get a Big Dig, and that has collapsing roads and bridges. Good luck imposing a tax on those folks.

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Okay, I'm ignoring the other problem, but there is another thread to properly gripe about this.

This is Amtrak's problem. If you want to talk about lack of investment, look to Washington on that. The commuter rail is just dealing with Amtrak's shitstorm right now.

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At this point, the City of Boston really needs to become a key player in funding and fixing the MBTA problems. The continued degradation of service coupled with the threat (inevitability?) of fare increases has the potential for devastating results, mainly on the City. In the short term, I see thousands of additional cars on surrounding highways and city streets causing even more congestion. In the long term I see workers and businesses leaving the city to work and build in areas that are more accessible for their people.

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The City of Boston should take over Amtrak.

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At 10;00 am on NECN , Leslie Aun of Keolis was interviewed and said that the problem is an Amtrak signal situation and she advised that people were to expect this problem to continue into the afternoon commute. This means South Station but there are other lines , such as in Natick and CSX , that are also are having problems. Its a clusterflux out there . Take care of yourselves out there.

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The busses were running fine. Better than usual, actually, since it's school break so all the obnoxious English High kids weren't acting like assholes first thing in the morning.

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Not one employee or Transit cop found in any of the photos, where are they hiding!

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There were several very helpful T employees out at Back Bay and DTX this morning helping unfamiliar CR commuters get to their destinations. I was surprised at how smooth everything went via the CR/Back Bay/Orange Line route this morning given the circumstances.

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We build a toll booth on Rt # south just below the NH line and hit all those people living in the Nashua area to pay for the MA infrastructure they are using but live in NH and work in the Greater Boston area. they don't pay any excise tax and use MA roads for 90% of their commute. Take that toll and put it all towards the T. They hit us for 6 miles of 95 when driving North why can't we get them coming in ?

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The Feds said no when they found out some of the money was going to be diverted to transit purposes. Unless you're willing to totally forego Federal Highway funding, I don't see Massachusetts attempting the same thing.

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Modern open-road toll gantries make it simple and inexpensive to implement, without affecting the flow of traffic. Place a toll on every exit ramp on the Central Artery and Route 128.

There's also no reason why other non-Interstate roads shouldn't be contributing their fair share to supporting the urban infrastructure. Commuters who use Route 2, the Route 3s, Route 24, and others should be paying a similar charge as those who use Routes 1, 1A, and the Turnpike.

The fact that some people must pay tolls while others pay nothing to drive into Boston is a huge elephant in the room that Mr. Baker chooses to ignore.

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It's more complicated than that.

If federal dollars were used in building, improving, or maintaining a road, the state CANNOT impose a toll on it. Doesn't matter if the toll is only on exit ramps. None of the traffic using the highway can be tolled.

It's not just limited to interstates either.

There are some federal funding programs that can be used for toll roads, but only if they are built as toll roads and collect tolls from the beginning. You cannot slap tolls onto an existing road. Rhode Island ran into trouble on this in attempting to toll the new Sakonnet River Bridge. It was the reason for the token $0.10 toll - the state couldn't open the bridge as a free bridge and then later toll it, since it was partially paid for using federal funding under the assumption that it would be tolled.

As for it being unfair for some people to pay tolls driving into the city and other people not to, that's hardly a problem unique to Boston, and meh, if you don't like it, move, or (ha) take the T. There are also free alternatives like route 9.
Massachusetts paid to build the turnpike before any of the other, free roads, and paid for it using toll revenue bonds, rather than waiting for the federal government to give them money to build it like they did with the other roads.

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If federal dollars were used in building, improving, or maintaining a road, the state CANNOT impose a toll on it.

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Why should they? Most people would be opposed to such a rule, because it essentially equates to charging double user fees for that road. The idea is that states can have federal money, which is supposed to mostly come from the federal gas tax, or they can raise the money themselves by tolling it, but not both.

There's also an element of not trusting states not to use toll revenue to pay for other, unrelated things. Essentially the federal government doesn't want the states to have the opportunity to take toll money that should be going to pay for upkeep of that road and spend it on other things because they know they can get federal money to pay for upkeep of the road.

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Except all those NH people pay MA income tax and other than the roads, get no benefit from it and actually pay quite a bit.

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"Thank you for enduring this morning's mess your patience and cooperation" blog post

http://blog.mass.gov/transportation/mbta/commuter-rail-delay-status-update/

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