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.

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