Sunday, October 7, 2007

Birthday Weekend @ Seashore Trolley Museum!

I've been a transitfan my entire life... Since 2001, I've been a regular online and have become a prominent figure on the MBTA online community. But this weekend made me feel that I was truly a transitfan - that this truly is something I love... This took it away from the computer screen and into real life.. This weekend 'The Forums' Moderator-In-Charge, Seashore member and friend Corey (CRail) took me up to the museum for their Rapid Transit and Bus weekend... It was friggin blast! We were joined by MBTA Rail Operations Forum Mod ( John and regular poster "Mattster".
Riding former MBTA fishbowl 6069 through Kennebunkport was great - especially watching the people outsides' reactions to seeing it (followed by a 1949 school bus) traveling through the town... Riding a NYCTA Redbird through the woods of Maine was also out of this world.
The most fun part was today (Sunday) when I got to drive RTS 8400 (that the museum got not to long ago) and drive a SEPTA PCC... Simply one of the best experiences of my life... I will definently be at the Museum a bunch more nowadays and hope to further my interests and work in transit. What a weekend!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A pissed off MBTA rider....

As I've stated at THE Forums @ Transithistory and at the MBTA Rail Operations forum at, I am not quite clear as the public isn't clear on the details of the man who jumped into the Orange Line tracks as was electrocuted... It is a touching situation for myself as I was (sort of) there...
I was taking the Orange Line from Sullivan home to Forest Hills... We get to Community College... we enter the subway portal to North Station. We are going through and then stop all of a sudden. We are standing for about 15 minuites when we switch to 'emergency power' - only about 6 lights are on in the train. (About to get graphic) A bunch of college students (I assume) were laughing at the whole situation and noticed a smell which they said smelled like "burnt chinese food"... Of course, I now know that was an eletrocuted person we were smelling... I made that connection this morning and I can say I've never experienced anything like that...
Anyhow, 30 minuites later we're still inbetween Community and North Station. I was in the last car in the train and I happened to look into the cab before us and see a crowd of people walking with a T official in front of them. I knew what was coming... No one else in the train saw it, but I did... So he comes through the doors and says "we have to evacuate the train". So I wabble myself down the rickety 1981 Hawker-Siddley emergency steps into the subway tunnel...
Now as a railfan, I was happy to actually be in a tunnel! But tripping on debris and my huge fear of rats didn't make it a very pleasant experience. In fact, everyone was tripping and (almost) falling... I understand the situation however...
So we get outside the portal and exit through a gate that led us out of the subway tracks and under I-93, not far from Community College... All 200 of us are confused... and finally a T Police official gathers everyone around and tells us to walk "this way" to reach the buses. We walk that way... and it leads to Bunker Hill Community College's parking lot...
Now if I am correct, MBTA policy mandates that an MBTA official lead the passengers in an emergency... And that certainly didn't happen. We got to this huge parking lot... everyone is confused. We finally congregate at an intersection (not quite sure of the street name but is the entrance to Community College station was not far). Now you have a group of passengers on one side of the intersection, another across the street, another opposite to them and some still in the parking lot. Nobody is sure what the hell is going on and at this point people are jumping in cabs. An hour later, ONE bus (for a six car Orange line train) and an MBTA inspector shows up. They are yelling and being absolutely rude to the passengers who have been inconvienced in the most outrageous way. After being yelled at by the wonderful and courteous people at the MBTA, we are taking to Haymarket to wait for a train for 30 minuites and were able to go on our way. And passengers had to pay AGAIN to get in the system... World class city right?
What I want to know, not only as a railfan... not only as a Boston resident, but as a paying customer to the MBTA and a taxpayer why they are not prepared for emergencies and why are they spending our money for customer service training - (which they clearly not trained) and they are being completely rude to these people - US people who had to go through what we went through. The MBTA did not inform us of anything and sent us into nowhere. I am offended, angry and dissapointed at the MBTA. 110 years and they still can't get it right...
The MBTA did not follow through with their responsibilities for an emergency situation after big talk about what they are doing to improve the customer service side of the authority. And a distraught and angry bus driver (who was probably was angry because he had to put his donut down) and Inspector who clearly have no respect for the customers are not acceptable to us taxpayers.
This shows how incompetent this transit system truly is. They obviously have no training in emergency situations, though they claim to. This seems to be the most basic emergency situation and of course, the MBTA couldn't get it done. And for what I have to pay in fare (as if the MBTA can compare the New York's MTA) and what my tax dollars are going to, I want an explanation. I have to remind myself this is the same transit agency that counts a bus as a rapid transit line (when you paint it silver, that makes it rapid...).
Again, as a taxpayer I want and demand an explanation from the MBTA to why we were treated the way we were and why the training they claim they have undergone wasn't executed.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Big Digging yourself into a hole....

Hello CharlieBlog fans, Transithistory fans and users, and everyone else! I am happy to be back home with my railfans \ transitfans. All though I'm not in charge, I see that we are now in great hands and are keeping to my original mission with what was the MBTA Forum @ Boardzero - giving people an outlet to discuss, debate, relive and dream. Transithistory has some really great content, and I see nothing but success.

So to the topic at hand...
This is a situation I would define as words I'd rather not say.... but I'll give you the first 8 letters... C L U S T E R F... (you figure the rest out). So many people are to blame for this... in fact, everybody involved in the project is, IMO. It is this typical corruption that is running rampant in our country today that is the reason why those who aren't rich are suffering... are wondering how they will make ends meet... what will they do when they retire... It sickens me that for those billions of dollars, we getting falling tunnels, ignored deadlines, leaking tunnels, UGLY tunnels (what happened to the porcelain ceilings?)... And oh by the way, MBTA what happened to Arborway service? What happened to an adequate replacement for the old elevated orange line - oh wait, you painted a bus silver - that'll do it... What happened to the green line extension to Medford? How about adequate service in Dorchester \ Roxbury \ Mattapan? These guys fought to have a commuter line to Greenbush - the towns didn't want it, but they went for it... meanwhile, you have the 15, 21, 22, 23, 28, 31, 45, 66 buses that are packed to capacity... all the time. A subway or even light rail line could easily be made from Mattpan to Dudley... in fact, it could be Mattapan to Park Street - via the current Silver Line Washington, and entering ALREADY BUILT tunnels connecting with the Green at Boylston and continuing to Park (the "F" line). BRT lines can be reserved for the outrageously heavy bus routes in the city, as opposed to routes that should be actual rapid transit.
I've gone completely off topic....
Well anyhow, I'll have more to post next pretty soon as I let loose on whoever pisses me off...

Love you guys!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Do we really make a difference?

I got a flyer this morning at Harvard Square asking (rhetorically, I presume, since there wasn't time to stop and talk):
  • Do we take you where you need to go?
  • Do we get you there on time?
  • How should we invest to ease the region's travel problems?
The flyer lists five public "workshops" for people to provide "input" that "will be used in the preparation of the MBTA's 2008 Program for Mass Transportation, the long-range planning document that outlines a 25-year vision for the Boston region's public transit system."

Three of the workshops have already happened, in Braintree, Wakefield, and Roxbury (Has anyone been to one? Seen any coverage?). There's one in Cambridge this Tuesday (6-8 pm at the Cambridge Senior Center, 806 Mass Ave.) and in Newton on Thursday (5:30-7:30, Newton City Hall).

I'd like to think that if a bunch of people showed up and said "fix what you've got before you build more!" that it would make a difference.

Look here for more info on the workshops and the 25-year vision. You can also submit comments online.

Save the Bongers!!

I'm not the only one who has noticed the decline of the Kendall Band, the interactive musical sculpture by Paul Matisse at Kendall/MIT. So has the artist--and he's put in a lot of very late nights to fix it, according to a story by Mac Daniel in today's Globe.

Trouble is, Matisse is getting along in years. Understandbaly, he's worried about the future of the band. Understandably, the T says it has no money to kep it up:
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority spokesman Joe Pesaturo acknowledges that the artwork is not a high priority for the cash-strapped agency.

He said the T does not have the expertise to repair the art work, which officially became the MBTA's property after it was installed as part of the first program in the nation to put works of art in public transportation systems.

The T found $10,000 for recent repairs to the sculpture, but told Matisse it cannot pay to fix anything else.

Matisse wonders if a little charitable foundation might be established to endow the Band's maintenance. I'm in... Maybe the Cambridge Arts Council could accept donations and administer it?

Photo by Evan Richman, Globe staff

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Long summer on the Riverside Line

Just spotted this at

Major renovations will suspend service on the D branch during the day from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. and on weekends from June 23 through Aug. 31.

The work, which will be completed in two phases, will include trimming trees and brush; cleaning and digging new drainage ditches; realigning and resurfacing tracks; replacing rail ties; and improving signals. During the construction, the Longwood and Brookline Village stations will be rebuilt and the Hyde Street Bridge in Newton will be replaced.

Buses will run the routes instead. Mild kudos to the T for scheduling the work in summertime, when ridership on the line is a little lower, but let's hope they put on enough buses! Let's see, 14,000 riders a day divided by 50 people per bus... carry the 4... that's 280 loads.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Well, That was Disturbing!

I'm a little thunderstruck at what I saw on the Red Line this morning: the doors closing before everyone had gotten off, and even closing on several people!

It happened at Charles/MGH, at about 7:30 or so. I was on car 01625, at the back of the train. There are usually a lot of people who get off this subway at Charles; many look like they're on their way to work at MGH. There's usually no problem.

This morning, though, was very different. As people went out the doors, even before anyone tried getting on, the doors closed. People inside and outside put their arms in the way, and even tried to force the doors open, which should have sent some kind of signal to the conductor so she (I looked later, it was a she) would reopen the doors, right. Nope. Not even one of those "please don't block the doors" announcements. People finally gave up, the doors closed,and off we went. At least 10 people on my car had to get off at Kendall so they could ride back to Charles.

Judging from the shocked expressions on everyone around me, I'm not the only one who never saw anything like it before. And coming a couple of weeks after a very similar incident on the Orange Line, it makes me wonder.

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