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.

Friday, June 1, 2007

"T to Install Misters on Platforms", or, "Eeeeewwww"

Oversized fans chained to support posts have become a staple of the MBTA's air quality system in recent years, and they do fulfill their mission of moving massive amounts of soot-filled air around the station (and into passengers' eyes).

Word comes today that they will soon be "installing" more fans, as well as misters, on problem platforms around the system. It's great that they want to combat the issue of sweltering, humid stations in the summer months, but I'm not so sure that I want T-supplied water being misted upon me while I wait for a train. Yuck!

Fire on the Orange Line at DTX

Another fire earlier this morning struck the plagued Orange Line, this time at Downtown Crossing.

Fox 25 has video of the scene, as well as some passenger accounts of getting trapped on board the train and attempting to get the doors to open via the emergency pulls (perhaps more OL door issues to look into?).

Sounds like it was an issue on-board the train rather than in the station, which also may not bode well for the aging fleet of Orange Line cars...

Fire at Back Bay halts Commuter Rail

As my train pulled into Ruggles this morning at about 7:10, we were told that all trains in and out of Back Bay (rail and subway) were stopped. A few minutes later, we heard that the train would be held at Ruggles for "a while," so I joined the stream of people in search of a different way to work. I walked across Northeastern to the Green Line, and got to Harvard Square only about 15 minutes later than usual.
reports that a small debris fire caused the halt; as of this posting, their site says CR trains are still stopped, which I find a little hard to believe after more than an hour. has nothing on it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Arborway over on Universal Hub rode the E line at just the right time today-- to get caught in an involuntary busing, and to snap a blurry photo of the reason why...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Brakes on for Fall River & New Bedford

The two bits of news didn't quite make sense in the first place: Gov. Patrick's announcement that he wants to extend commuter rail to New Bedford and Fall River, and a high-profile report on the billions of dollars it will take just to maintain the existing system.

As noted by AP writer Steve LeBlanc in Saturday's Globe (and several other spots), and in the words of the old standard, "somethin's gotta give," and it might be the commuter rail:

Critics say that, coming off the nearly $14.8 billion Big Dig and faced with a crumbling transportation infrastructure, the last thing the state can afford is a pricey new commuter rail line.

And at the Statehouse, some lawmakers are pushing for a moratorium on all future MBTA rail expansions, including the New Bedford project.

"Rather than promising the people of New Bedford and Fall River that we are going to be spending a billion-four, the priority of the administration should be making sure the bridges and roads we have right now are drivable and useable," said Senate Republican Leader Richard Tisei, R-Wakefield.

Tisei is pushing for the moratorium. He points to a recent report that found Massachusetts will need to come up with $15 to $19 billion in new revenues over the next two decades just to maintain the state's existing roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure.
The other side gets its say, too:
Steve Smith, executive director of the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, is also upbeat, although he concedes there are still fiscal challenges for the project.

"The argument that we can't afford it, I can understand that, but in some ways it rings a little hollow because they've afforded it everywhere else in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island," he said pointing to other MBTA commuter rail lines. "There is a question of equity."

He also said that steadily increasing traffic on Route 24 may end up forcing the issue. Since 1984, traffic has tripled, he said, and shows few signs of slowing.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Proud Charlie Card Carrier?

Jason Elliott Benda, who appears to be in Chicago, is, by his own admission, feeling a little geeky pride that he now has a Charlie Card (or maybe a Charlie Ticket? He just calls it "fare media")... even though he hasn't used it yet.

(image from here.)

A Greenhouse for Canton Junction?

The T and the town of Canton are talking over three design proposals to enclose the Canton Junction station. The currently-open-air station is where the Stoughton line joins the Providence tracks, so any enclosure has to cover not just one set of tracks but two, as well as some pretty big pedestrian ramps and bridges.

Each of the three proposed designs would "enclose the ramps and walkways currently in place within a steel and glass enclosure in an attempt to increase safety and make the platforms more aesthetically pleasing."

Sounds like a greenhouse, eh? The designers hope not:
The station, which would remain un-manned, would protect passengers and walkways from the weather, and would include vents to eliminate a greenhouse effect in the glass structure. “Alternative JF” also includes an outdoor canopy around all entrances, and Del Vecchio asked that additional entrances and exits be considered to assist rush hour passengers.
Selectman John Connolly is quoted as saying "it's like painting a pig's ear."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bumping elbows in Roslindale

The Herald notes that more commuters catching the train in Roslindale Village (aka Rozzie Square) is one reason parking is hard to find in the area:
...[T]hose in attendance at the meeting said the lot fills up before 9 a.m. as commuters from other areas come to use the lot. Police Captain James Hasson suggested possibly closing the lot until 9 a.m., but he acknowledged the legality of such a plan would have to be checked because it is a municipal lot.

In a previous meeting, similar concerned parties offered recommendations that were reiterated, including:
· Encourage the use of the MBTA lot for owners and employees and address safety concerns of the lot. ...

All parties agreed that there are too many people coming from outside of the area to park in Roslindale so they can take the commuter rail.
Is this part of a Roslindale Renaissance?

An intersting historical note, probably not new to the railfans out there: Roslindale was the scene of the Bussey Bridge collapse in 1887, one of the first rail disasters in the U.S., which prompted regular inspections of bridges.

(By the way, a quick hello since this is my first post. Thanks to Mike for letting me join in. I plan to pull in some of the more interesting (to me) news and blog items each day. If you have a suggestion, feel free to post a comment.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Please

We've all seen it happen, but when the doors closed on a Boxborough man at State station Monday, it wasn't due to the guard's quick flips of the door control.

According to multiple sources, the doors of an Orange Line train closed unexpectedly, without warning, trapping the man between the doors, with his briefcase and laptop outside the train. When the train's brakes released, he handed it to a good samaritan on the platform, who promised to meet him at Back Bay with his bag (and he did - kudos to him!). But this wasn't the end.

When the train rumbled in to Downtown Crossing, the doors didn't open at all. Passengers began to panic, pressing the emergency boxes in the cabin, but getting no response. Eventually, an alert employee noticed the passengers banging on the doors and came into the car from the next one to open the doors manually. The MBTA has since taken the entire trainset out of service for investigation.

Two key issues arise with this incident: Why did the doors close without warning, and how was the train able to move with the door still ajar; and Why were the emergency calls ignored? (The MBTA says all of the boxes on the train were working properly).

This may come down to operator error, but what bothers me about this is, if all accounts are accurate, the train began to move with the man trapped in the door, meaning the door was not fully closed and locked. The train should not be able to move when the doors are not all closed and locked, and the guard should get some sort of indication that they are not all closed. My guess here is, given the lack of warning and quick closing of the doors, some sort of malfunction caused this whole incident, giving no indication to the crew or the train itself that the doors were not all closed. At Downtown Crossing, there may not have been any indication that the doors hadn't opened.

As far as the emergency intercoms, passengers are told repeatedly to report anything suspicious or problematic, and to use the emergency intercoms to do so, but if these calls don't go through, or if they are ignored, then the boxes are completely pointless and leave passengers disconnected from vital help in a dangerous situation. This issue may be resolved with either employee re-training, or closer inspection and testing of the boxes across all lines (they are rather old, and maybe it is time to replace them with more modern equipment).

This is an issue that needs to be addressed quickly by the T, and action needs to be taken based on their findings. My best guess would be that this leads to a fleet-wide inspection of door-related equipment, ensuring that all failsafes and systems are working properly. This incident could have easily been more serious than it was, and I hope that all of the press that it managed to receive will mean a prompt response from the T.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Is no news good news?

Well, there hasn't been much going on in terms of the MBTA in the past few days, and I suppose this can be taken as good news.

Aside from the peculiar 'terrorist librarian' at Alewife, no major service problems or changes have occurred lately, which could be due to the transition of seasons. We've escaped the cold and snow of winter, but haven't yet entered the A/C-crippling heat of summer. So spring at the T is a breeze.

I'll take this opportunity to update y'all on the status of a few things at TH. I recently took over as the administrator of The Forums, relieving CS of his duties there. He will now head up our advertising & PR campaigns, including recruitment for our Forums and site promotions.

The Forums remain steady, and I thank you all for your continued posting. You've all made it the place for uncensored conversation about all modes of transit in Boston, and we hope to expand this concept (as well as TH in general) to other transit-rich cities around the country. (Email me if you're from another city and are interested in helping!)

This summer, I am planning to launch an ambitious and exciting multimedia endeavor that I hope will be both beneficial and educational to Boston railfans, commuters, and residents in general. Stay tuned for more...

Thanks again!


Thursday, May 3, 2007

Amtrak vs. Rail Crew; Forums Update

This morning, an Amtrak train struck a rail crew car near Back Bay station, leading to the death of the flagman due to a heart attack. This is the second train vs. crew incident in recent weeks, and leads to many more questions about crew safety on the MBCR/Amtrak network. Why was the train allowed to pass into the same block as an active crew team? Had the crew filed for appropriate protections while working on the busy line? It is unfortunate that this has lead to another death, but hopefully something good will come from this by way of policy review...
For more on the incident, visit the Globe

Also, I'd like to update you all on the forums situation. This morning, the forums went down yet again, however a message was available on the BoardZero home page stating that they are aware of the problems, and think they are fixed, but are testing their system now. Hopefully this means The Forums will be back up and running for good later today. I'll refrain from opening the "backup" forums in anticipation of the BoardZero ones reopening today, but I'll keep you posted!



Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Forums Information: Update 11:45PM

Okay, so leave it to BoardZero to make asses of us all.

The forums are back (again), hopefully for good.

We are monitoring the situation, and I have set up a "contingency" forum if there is another prolonged outage.

I'd like to thank you all for your patience during these frustrating outages, and your continued support of TransitHistory!


Mike Prescott
Owner, TransitHistory

Charleston Sargeant
Marketing & PR Chief, TransitHistory

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hot and Crowded as Hell

This week's "Starts & Stops" column breaks the news of hot cars on the Commuter Rail and people not paying fares on the Green Line. I nearly dropped my coffee when I read these startling accounts.

First up is the news that MBCR plans to finally do something about its notoriously-malfunctioning heating, air conditioning and circulation systems on Commuter Rail cars. For the first time in over ten years the full fleet will get a full makeover, which will also include better training for mechanics to (ideally) prevent "hot cars" from plaguing the system during the summer. The price of a more tolerable commute? Over $1 Million. I suppose it's the price we pay for comfort.

Next up is a scene anyone who has set foot on a Green Line car ever is familiar with - the free ride vs. on time service conundrum. On one hand, we have the revenue department and fare-paying passengers, who would like to see every last little sneak pay their fare at every station along the crowded and delay-plagued trolley lines. On the other hand, those on board who have somewhere to be (or don't like sitting or standing in a hot, crowded trolley for an hour), or the operator who'd like to actually complete a trip on time, often like to open all doors and waive fares when the platform is packed from end-to-end.

Stations once notorious for such activity, like Prudential and Lechmere, have eliminated the practice thanks to AFC gates. Now it's the street-level stops that bear the brunt of this issue, and its something that has become even worse with AFC and the implementation of outbound fares on the street. Quite often, operators will still open all doors on the outbound trips, merely suggesting that everyone pay their fare over the PA system. Few people ever do.

So what can be done about Green Line overcrowding? Not a whole lot. At stations like Longwood Medical Area, when Boston Latin gets out, or Fenway, when a Sox game is over, crowds will always fill the small platforms, and collecting fares from everyone would not only be a grueling hours-long process, it would pose a safety hazard. Center-of-street stops like Longwood Medical Area have no room for long lines to wind off the platform, and busy ones like Fenway would become unruly and breed crime or violence.

The unfortunate solution to this problem is a "more of the same" approach. Though new portable card=tapping devices do help in moderately crowded situations, a packed to the gills platform will remain so until a train comes to gobble up the people on it, and this can only be effectively done by opening all doors and eating the unpaid fares of the non-passholding passengers.


Boston Globe Photo
I'd also like to welcome TH's own Charleston "CS" Sargeant to the CharlieBlog. He and Ron Newman will be contributing to the blog with me, hopefully making this a current and interesting blog!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

From the Field: 4/22/07

I went for a nice tour of the city this morning, enjoying the BEAUTIFUL weather that we have all earned! I must say first and foremost that Boston shines like the jewel it is in this kind of weather -- warming sunlight with a slight ocean breeze refreshing the city air. Quite a day, indeed!

As far as transit goes, I did some riding around as well (I walked more than usual today), and here's a few notes:

PORTER - I arrived at Porter around 8AM on the Commuter Rail, and those of us heading for the subway were greeted with locked doors all around! Only once someone inside heard us banging on the doors were we let in. I've never encountered this before personally, but I imagine it happens every so often, especially on Sunday mornings.

CHARLES/MGH - I really do like the new headhouse (station house, more accurately). I would, however, like to know when they're going to tie in the information boards to the "Next Train..." system, so they don't just repeatedly welcome you to the station.

COPLEY - Work progresses, though honestly I can't visibly tell what's different now than several weeks ago when I was last there. I got a few shots of the outbound headhouses, as they'll be meeting the wrecking ball at some point in this process (one met a wayward taxi last year, so there's not much left to dismantle there).

LECHMERE - I finally rode a Type 8 out to Lechmere. I had never done this yet, but with their return to the E line I was given the chance and took it. Lechmere yard consisted mostly of Type 8s today, and I imagine this is now the norm. Now I've just got to ride one out to Arbor- I mean Heath Street...

ARLINGTON - Work is much more visible here, at least from street level, as they have torn open the old entrance stairwell. Unfortunately I didn't make it here in time to capture it on film, but I did record what's left of it (photos coming soon).

WORLD TRADE CENTER - I had never noticed the security panels in the roadway until the recent incident, and I really like that whole system. They have installed new information screens here, which today were only displaying the T logo, date, and time. The new advertisement panels added at WTC brighten up the station quite a bit, and I actually somewhat like them! They also added some at Courthouse, but I didn't get off to explore further.

ROUTE 1 BUS - The Mass Ave Bridge detour and a Greek parade detour really fouled up the 1 today, but I eventually made it to my destination. On the bright side, I suppose, is that I got to ride a 1 down Comm Ave and through Kenmore Square!


I would also like to welcome Ron Newman to the CharlieBlog! He will be contributing with posts on various transit topics. Welcome aboard!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Silver Line Driver Flips at Passenger

Quite the interesting story in this week's Starts & Stops. In short, a late night run from the Airport was apparently going to use surface roads from the TWT to South Station, bypassing Silver Line Way (and therefore a passenger's home stop). Said passenger questioned the driver, and the driver told the passenger to get off the (explitive) bus, after stopping it in the middle of Summer Street. The driver has since been disciplined and warned, according to T mouthpiece Joe Pesaturo. Quite the outburst if this is all true!


Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Charles/MGH Station "Official" Opening Tuesday

The "official" grand opening ceremony for the newly renovated Charles/MGH station will occur Tuesday at 11AM, according to the Globe's Starts & Stops column.

When I stopped at the station a week ago, it did seem a bit unfinished, so this is good to hear that it wasn't "officially" open yet!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The New TH is Ready

The new TransitHistory is up and running, complete with our new sister blog, Lost in Boston, new forum partners, The MBTA Forum, and the very first exhibit of the Boston Transit eMuseum, The LRV: Beginning and End.

Be sure to check it all out, and discuss the LRV exhibit in The MBTA Forum!

More updates here are coming soon...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Update: green line e br.

Update: green line e br. ending at brig. circ. b/c of conjestion... Notice: site launch delayed b/c of wthr, sorry!

The lrvs are officially retired!

The lrvs are officially retired! the trip was a sucess. will have an update later. also, the launch of the new transithistory may be delayed.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Farewell to the LRV, Part II

The LRV's grand finale is changing as fast as the weather.

Here's the latest:

-- The Wednesday "second to last" trip did NOT run.

-- The "final" public trip has been pushed off to Friday

-- There MAY be an additional trip today at 11, but it might be a private trip for the media.

-- The weather is 50/50 as to whether it will snow or rain Thursday night and Friday.

I can tell you that I will be in town Friday, hoping for the final trip of the LRV. What effect the weather will have on this whole thing remains to be seen. I'll post more if I get it.

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Farewell to the LRV

This is some "unconfirmed" news but I'm going to share it with the risk of being inaccurate, as it is somewhat urgent.

It has been posted over at the forums that the final two "revenue" trips of the Boeing Light Rail Vehicles in Boston (and the world) will be MARCH 14TH and 15TH at 11:00AM. These trips will depart Riverside station at approx. 11:00AM and run inbound and presumably back out to Riverside in regular revenue service.

I will be there, with cameras and camcorder in hand, as will probably a small group of fans. Like them or hate them, this is the end of an era in Boston transit, and if you've got the time, you'll be glad you joined in.

The thread at can be found HERE.

This is confirmed via Jonathan Belcher's NETransit roster.

"Last two revenue runs of Boeing LRVS will leave Riverside eastbound at 11:00 AM and Government Center at 11:44 AM westbound on Wednesday March 14th and Thursday March 15th"

If you can, come pay your respects to the elders of the Green Line!


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

ANOTHER Stabbing at Back Bay

Unfortunately, I'm posting a nearly identical one to that of just a few weeks ago...

The second stabbing in three weeks occurred tonight at Back Bay Station, this one involving two young victims. Witnesses describe seeing a victim lying in a pool of blood at the top of the escalators.

This year isn't off to a good start; let's hope for a better Spring.

More from WBZ

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Public Service Announcement: BSRA Meeting TONIGHT!

And now a brief public service announcement...

Tonight at the Grand Lodge of Masons in Boston, the Boston Street Railway Association will hold its monthly meeting. After the brief business portion, an entertainment presentation will be presented, this month by the BSRA's president and local traction expert Bradley H. Clarke.

Brad Clarke, BSRA President, will return with a follow-up selection of vintage slides from his large Philadelphia-area collection. This year, Brad will examine the West Philadelphia subway-surface routes as they once were; and as time permits, other elements of the system such as the High-Speed (Rapid Transit) lines, the Red Arrow Lines, and PTC's trackless trolley network.

For more information, including directions, visit the BSRA's website at


Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Green Line Outage @ Reservoir

Today's nasty weather shut down the D branch of the Green Line for quite some time, with a wire / power problem at Reservoir station. This caused the unfortunate passengers to be bused first from Riverside to Fenway, and later, between Newton Highlands and presumably Fenway. The latter option seems rather ridiculous, given the weather, to make people wait outside three times for vehicles, though i guess it's safer to wait on the platforms at the stations whenever possible (thus the trolley service between Riverside and Newton Highlands).

Hope you all had a safe commute today, and enjoy the beautiful weekend!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Whoops! New Charles/MGH Opened 2/17

I apparently completely missed the opening of the new Charles/MGH station on February 17th... Sorry about that one!

In recent days, the new fare equipment in the new lobby was apparently not accepting people's passes, forcing the T to send out inspectors to manually allow people though if their valid passes didn't work.

More @ The Globe

Hitting the Grindstone & Hitting a Dumpster

Okay, this is it. I'm planning to make some kind of update here on a daily basis, whether it be news or personal rant, I'm going to do my best to send something along every day, though if I miss one, please kindly forgive me. On a similar note, TransitHistory will be getting a new look next weekend, which will mean the essential "full" operation of the site, complete with an eMuseum exhibit (the full Boston Transit eMuseum will open later this year).

As for the dumpster, a Guilford freight train smashed into a dumpster in Peabody this morning, wedging it between the engine and a nearby building. The accident didn't appear too serious, but it definately scores one in the unusual category...

More @ WHDH

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Grease Hits the Catenary

The state auditor released a report today blasting the T for its ineptitude surrounding the purchase of the Breda-manufactured "Type 8" streetcars. (See Boston Globe article)

"Ill-advised decisions by the MBTA directly contributed to the faulty acceptance design of these vehicles and their propensity to derail," noted the report, which slaps an "accurate and conservative" figure of $101 million that will be spent in the next 20 years by the MBTA to keep the trolleys on the tracks.

The MBTA argues that the forecast cost is more like $54 million if you subtract routine maintenance costs.

Regardless of the anticipated cost, this is a major blow to the MBTA.

What is most important about this entire debacle, which has dragged on for a decade now, is that the MBTA learn from their obvious mistakes, whatever they may have been, and that such a disaster never happen again.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fire at Park Street Over

News this morning of another Green Line fire, this time at Park Street.

The Boston Fire Department ordered all electricity shut off, but the fire was apparently out quickly and service has been restored. Sounds to me like an electrical fire, not unlike others that have occurred here and other underground stops on the trolley line.

WBZ has reported that the station was evacuated around 11:15 this morning, but less than an hour later service is back to normal.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Orange Line Stabbing – Unfortunately, No Surprises Here

There was a stabbing at Back Bay station on the Orange Line tonight,
as noted by the all-too-familiar headline on WBZ, "Teen Critical
After Orange Line Stabbing." An 18-year-old was reportedly attacked
and stabbed by a group of men on the platform.

The continued violence on MBTA property is a real concern for
everyone who rides the system, especially in the hardest-hit stations
and areas. It's time the city, the state and the MBTA got their act
together and seriously organized a better, bigger, stronger police
force for the system. I know the State Police don't want to inherit
the Transit Police's problems, but a merger would more likely than
not be in the best interest of the riding public, and that should
outweigh the internal frustrations of merging the forces.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

There IS a God!

After years and years and YEARS of an insufficient "Customer Service" phone service, the MBTA has announced a new, centralized Customer Service Department.

As reported in the Metro and regurgitated by the MBTA, the new department will, on paper, prevent people from being bounced around different offices and representatives who, from experience, weren't always knowledgeable, and weren't always there.

The new system is supposed to open this month, so we should find out by Spring whether it actually works any better than the abysmal system we've endured for oh so very long.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Weather-related Transit Problems

Today has proven to be a tricky one for local transit agencies...

Among the issues:

-- Blue Line is being bused from Maverick to Airport.

-- Green Line B Branch busing between Boston College and Washington Street.

-- Logan Airport has closed as of about 1:00PM while they clear runways.

-- A Fung Wah bus has crashed off the Mass Pike in Allston, no injuries reported.

-- Peter Pan & Bonanza have cancelled all bus service north of New York City.

-- Worcester's Transit Authority has placed all buses on snow routes.

-- Silver Line Waterfront is running on snow route in Boston, as are several other routes.

More later...

Stay warm & stay safe! And check out my previous post below if you haven't already.

Welcome to the NEW CharlieBlog

Welcome to the all-new CharlieBlog!

You can now add comments directly under each post and sign up for feeds of this blog, and I have greater abilities and easier access for updates.

I have transferred all of the posts from the previous edition on here, with their original post dates in parentheses below the title (they are all listed as Feb. 14th on here).

This is the first major step in bringing TransitHistory to a fully open state. In the next few days I'll also be adding new features, a new blog, and the very first Boston Transit eMuseum exhibit!

Enjoy, and have a happy, snowy Valentine's Day!

Site Updates; Greenbush Ceremony; Vandalism; and so forth

(Originally Posted February 13, 2007)

You may have noticed the slimmer logo above. This is a preview of the excitement that's building behind the scenes here at TransitHistory, as I'm working hard on the long-awaited "full" launch of TransitHistory, complete with new blogs, a newsroom, advertising, and the very first Boston Transit eMuseum exhibit. These things are still several days away from implementation, but tomorrow's stowstorm should help give me time to work in it, provided I don't lose power.
In other news, I was lucky enough to attend the Greenbush "Golden Spike" ceremony last week. Aside from drinking Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate and eating several DD donuts at MBTA expense, I got to watch as the transit big wigs of Boston each claimed a bit of personal responsibility for the new Commuter Rail line, which will open "this year." It was a neat little ceremony, held in Braintree where the line splits from the rest of the Old Colony network. We had to park in Weymouth, and were then shuttled by MBTA bus to the undisclosed location, where two engines and a large white tent were set up. Inside, various members of the media, dignitaries, invited guests, and myself watched the speaking portion of the program.

I filmed the whole thing, but YouTube wouldn't let me upload it since it's "too long", though it is only 30 minutes from the first fluff piece to the driving of the golden spikes. (The latter was the most entertaining part, as the Lt. Governor threatened to swing his spike-driver-tool (sorry I'm blanking on the official term) at the rest of the dignitaries. I'll try and at least get that up soon.)

Also of note is the "freebie" they gave out, which is the real reason why I attend these ceremonies: a black-painted railroad spike with "GREENBUSH 2007...." printed in generic type on one side. Both the most unique and the most lame freebie I've gotten yet.

In still other news, last weekend the local media (th included) hyped a convergence of vandals upon the city of Boston. Transit Police were on high alert, and actually busted a few creeps driving around in Braintree who allegedly tagged several subway cars at Forest Hills. The common excuse for graffiti art is that it's "public art" and freedom of speech, but take it from an artist: it isn't. Tagging a subway car or other transit property only ends up costing the fare-paying riders and taxpayers of Massachusetts. If I had to pay to view art, I'd rather go to a gallery.

A few things...

((Originally Posted February, 2007)

I've added a bio of myself (not to be self-promoting or anything) on the right, and de-cluttered this bage by removing the January and December postings and creating archives on the right. My *plan* is to update this blog semi-daily, but this could fluctuate due to my school and work schedules.

I need your input now. I'm working on re-creating this through a blog hosting service, which would allow for comments to be left right below each message, and allow for me to "categorize" each posting (if you're familiar with blogs you know this), but I'm finding it hard to get the layout I want. I like this layout, but it doesn't allow for such interface. Should I keep it like this, and just have people comment in the Forums (I'll create a new thread for each post) or via email, or should I put it on a hosting service, but lose the layout?

And a few other notes about the site in general... I've removed references to the Podcast, eMuseum, and Library from the homepage because, in all honesty, I can't get these completed in the near future. They will come, I assure you, but it may be quite some time. I also revamped the news block to feature an image and 'top story', with several RECENT headlines below. Everything older will be moved to the "newsroom" page, which I'm finishing up now and should be up soon.

PLEASE give me any feedback or comments you have, I want to make this site great, and I had a chance to speak to several people in person recently, and they want it to work out as well. Also, if you're interested in writing a column, doing an online "exhibit", donating photos, writing, or anything else, please email me. Thanks for visiting and reading the CharlieBlog!

New Fitchburg station could cause big problems

(Originally Posted February 2, 2007)

The recent proposal to extend the Fitchburg Commuter Rail line to West Fitchburg / "Wachusett" is great for commuters who currently drive down Route 2 to stations like Leominster and Littleton, or all the way to Boston, but for those who already ride the line, such an increase in ridership could spell disaster. As is stated in the Sentinel & Enterprise article, what should be addressed first is an increase in speed and reduction of trip times on the line. As it is, Fitchburg to Boston takes at least 90 minutes. A few years ago, "express" trains were added, which bypass inner stops between South Acton and Porter Square, but these trips are only about 10-15 minutes shorter than normal. These were a start, but if you add anticipated increased ridership, trains would be jammed and the line would reach capacity. We (I live and commute on this line) need more express trains, we need double-deck cars, and we need a more uniform schedule that doesn't feature 2 or 3 hour gaps in service to the outer stations. I know this will take a LOT of work, and at this time they don't have the crews or equipment reliability to do this, but these issues should be addressed before any extension to the line is made.

"Hairstyles of the '70s," or "How not to act when your actions have disrupted thousands of commuters for hours and cost the city of Boston $1 Million"

(Originally Posted February 1, 2007)

Last night, I recall thinking, "Man, that poor artist, he was just trying to make a living! I hope he doesn't get in too much trouble." Being an artist and a college student, I could relate. But today's, umm, let's call it unusual, press conference changed that sentiment a bit. They shouldn't have said anything to begin with. What SHOULD have happened was that their lawyer read a short statement and everyone go on their way. Unfortunately, their 'performance' soured any feelings of remorse from those who were stranded in traffic Wednesday morning. Say what you will of the city's response to these "devices", the two men who hung them up should have at least pretended to care. Maybe if they had to pay to refill everyone's gas tanks and reimburse all lost transit revenue, they would give half a damn about their fellow Bostonians.

More of the Same

(Originally Posted January 4, 2007)

Today I was in town for the Deval Patrick inauguration, an excuse for me to ride around the system for the first time since the big fare increase earlier this week. It seems that many have already adjusted to some of the changes, but there is a long road ahead before everyone comes to terms with the more drastic ones.
Most notably today, the D line seems to have two very different personalities -- Fenway to the Brooklines, where there were two MBTA officials at each station monitoring the doors for outbound fare collection; and the rest of the line, where not one MBTA employee was seen even near any of the stations, aside from Riverside. The result? Continuing "free" outbound fares. I disembarked at Newton Corner to run an errand, and when I got back on to head for Riverside, I was the only one who paid (and I had a pass). Everyone else got on the rear doors. No announcement was made. Chestnut Hill was much the same, except here NOBODY paid a fare, with some walking right past the farebox. After closing the doors, the driver made an announcement "announcing" the collection of outbound fares, and to "please" come up and pay. One person did, everyone else remained hidden. The train pulled away with no further comment.

I do pity all of the trolley and bus operators who must enforce policies beyond their control, but the lack of presence at the outer D line stations is concerning. I had thought at first that this Proof-of-Payment business wouldn't last till Summer, but after experiencing it first hand, I'm not sure it will make the Spring.

Double Feature: "Excuses, Excuses" and "Menino, Menino"

(Originally Posted December 14, 2006)

Welcome to the long-awaited (and greatly belated) first entry in the CharlieBlog. I'll take a moment to thank our mention in the Bedford Minuteman for forcing me to take a few moments away from writing a paper and being sick to make this site look somewhat presentable. For those who read the Minuteman article and have bravely clicked on from the home page, I'd like to welcome you, and apologize for the mess! I'm planning on rolling out the Podcast and some other big features over the next month or so, after finals. Please drop me a line with any comments or suggestions, as well, or you can post in the forums. For those interested in the artistic portion of my mention, I also have a "fetus" of an artists' website up at There's not much there now, but go ahead and bookmark it so you'll be pleasantly surprised a year from now when you stumble across the link. Now on to the topic at hand...
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced this week his plans to sell the current urban tundra known as City Hall Plaza and create a new, stylish, and undoubtedly expensive City Hall on the current site of the Bank of America Pavilion. This is all nice and good, but one aspect I have yet to see addressed is the proposed move's effect on public transit in both areas, specifically the soon-to-be-renovated Government Center station, and the just-completed Silver Line Waterfront.

For Government Center, the changes could be as simple as a name change to whatever the new complex is named (The Mayor Thomas M. Menino Center?), but it could affect the entire design of the upcoming renovations. Interestingly, the renovations have been delayed, perhaps in response to a possible change in design of City Hall Plaza. As of right now, the official plans call for a new glass headhouse, completing a "ship" themed light, glass, and metal structure that currently exists as "masts", benches, and an overhang on the Northwest side of the plaza. Were the new development to encompass the entire brick-covered area of the property, this design could be altered or alltogether scrapped, and I would hope the resulting changes and redesigns would be paid for by Menino and/or the developer, rather than the taxpayers.

As for the Silver Line, the current station nearest the proposed City Hall site, Silver Line Way, would almost certainly have to be expanded, as right now the site is hardly handicap accessible via public transit. A more possible alternative is a new "branch" of the Silver Line to serve the new City Hall complex (The Mayor Thomas M. Menino City Hall Building?), or an alteration of the existing Boston Marine Industrial Park routing, but because the line is essentially a bus route, these changes should be relatively easy to initiate, save for constructing a new station at the City Hall complex and updating the system maps to reflect the change.

We'll be tracking the developments in this interesting project, and maybe even dig for some answers on our own. Given past government-initiated construction projects, I expect we'll have plenty of time to scrounge together all the details.

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