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Lack of dispatchers no longer the only reason the T can't run as many trains

WFXT reports the MBTA is now close to having the minimum number of dispatchers it needs to restore more frequent service on the Orange, Red and Blue Lines, but that now it also doesn't have enough cars and drivers for them.



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They probably were never planning to go back to the old run times. The Orange Line is so packed now because of it. I try to wait to see if there is a less crowded train. It sometimes works.

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Announce some very temporary, short term cutbacks or changes that they say are urgently needed while some very specific problem gets resolved. But promise service will be greatly improved just as soon as the fixes are made.

Then they slowly expand the scope of the problems they are trying to solve. The specifics stop being mentioned.

Then they stop providing a timeline when the temporary changes will end. It slowly changes from a number of weeks, to a number of months, to whatever season is 6 months away.

Then they stop referring to the changes as temporary although still leave the signage up that makes reference to the past.

Then the signs come down.

Year or decades later, announce some very temporary, short term cutbacks or changes that they say are urgently needed while some very specific problem gets resolved. But promise service will be greatly improved as soon as the fixes are made....

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But, not for nothing the MBTA does have very real and very publicized problems in running more Orange Line service and are between a rock and a hard place. They simply do not have enough new rolling stock from CRRC to run a better schedule, and the old rolling stock is prone to things like random combustion making running them an even worse idea. Added on to that the documented issues and shit show that is CRRC and the fact they hadn't, until last week, received new cars in 6+ months when already behind schedule adds the icing on the cake. The good news is they did start receiving more cars (as could be seen by the one rolled over on 495), but it's super far behind. In theory, if the order wasn't just a catastrophe the MBTA ends up with an expanded OL fleet for better than pre-pandemic headways.

The driver shortage isn't great and I would guess a function of not keeping people employed/on the payroll when they weren't running the service which of course bites them in the ass now if they want to ramp back up. All in all a perfect storm of ineptitude and bad luck culminated in what we have now.

That said this only really applies to the Orange. The Red, Blue, and Green all have enough rolling stock to go back to normal and not nearly in the same dire straights that the Orange finds itself in.

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Two huge examples...

- The A-Watertown line: closed temporarily in 1969, but never returned
- The E-Arborway line: closed temporarily in 1985, restored as far as Heath Street in 1989 after the Opera Place/Northeastern portal was rebuilt, but remainder of line never returned.

The real reason for the soft-and-slow elimination of both lines was because the PCCs were getting older and harder to maintain (28 years in 1969, 44 years in 1985), and the MBTA wanted to retire them. They also found that running the trolleys in the street caused multiple problems with traffic, so the MBTA decided to "temporarily" substitute both lines with the 39 and 57 buses. The buses proved popular enough to eliminate the A line in its entirety and the E line south of Heath Street.

I really think the MBTA wants to run the subways as a rush-hour only service to save money, and shift services to buses (especially the new battery-electric buses to come on line by 2030) during the day and weekends.

Voting closed 22

I really think the MBTA wants to run the subways as a rush-hour only service

They used to threaten to do this every few years unless they got more funding. It certainly seemed like they wanted the Governor of the time to call their bluff so they could finally become a 8am - 6pm system.

The A & E lines are the most obvious examples of The Cycle of Elimination but it happens for less obvious things too: bus lines, headways, CR Stations, weekend services, etc. With the exception of GLX, the T keeps shrinking.

Voting closed 12

The T was created to get a worker downtown to work. Rush hour only would make the Transportation Bldg happy. .

If you've tried to get from Hyde Park to Quincy in under 2 hours on the T, it is hard.

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Members of the T board did not ask Benesh or Gonneville about the apparent shift in what will be needed to reverse service cuts. Instead, they heaped praise on MBTA staff for the presentation about operations control center hiring and policy changes.

The T, using the Kafka AI-bot, says "we fixed what we said was the reason for terrible headways, but we were just kidding that that was the only reason, there's these other reasons too that we haven't addressed" and the board doesn't confront them on it or ask them when the other problems will be addressed?
These hacks are so laughably bad at oversight. Healey should've cleaned house yesterday, but I suspect she's going to be fine just letting someone else take the blame for as long as possible.

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I learned the hard way when I was on the board of a local non-profit. The folks with power do not want a any kind of board of trustees or directors doing more than rubber stamping already made decisions.

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Bus operator: check
Fueler: check
Dispatcher: not a single effing one

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is that it seems the MBTA has a requirement that T dispatchers must be a train operator first, as reported in the Globe's story yesterday.

As a former dispatcher in ground transportation, I was interested in applying for a dispatcher position, but the jobs were never posted externally.

Now since they pulled operators off to become dispatchers, there are no operators to replace them, as the operator shifts and pay are nothing like they were 20 years ago.

The cycle continues.

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During the time of less service, the T should have made sure the drivers were paid, but it looks like they didn’t do that.

If only the T was a customer driven agency.

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If the MBTA dropped the Drivers License requirement from the job of T Train Driver they would have applicants coming out of their figurative ears.

All the T trains are on tracks, you're not making any turning decisions at all. All the tracks have signals which will be taught to you as part of the training. For surface trolleys which intersect with roads general traffic signals would be taught as well. I don't understand this requirement at all.

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but are there any regulations that would require at minimum a passenger vehicle level drivers license for the job?

Voting closed 1