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Not so fun commutes during my first week at the new job June 13, 2014

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So I started the new job on the 9th. My very first day the MBTA commuter rail breaks down and we have to wait to be pushed into Boston. Except the train I was on was supposed to be express Mansfield MA to Back Bay. No such luck. I was supposed to be there at 9AM, got there at 10:15AM. Ut si! 

And now today, Friday. I get over to Central Square station in Cambridge and the Red Line train is still there, doors open. So a bunch of us board it. Now the train is pretty packed and there’s no air conditioning running. And then the announcement comes, there’s a medical emergency at Kendall/MIT station. 

I theorize that for the length of time it took – it wasn’t someone throwing a cardiac event. This had to be some moron who decided to inconvenience a few thousand people because they figure the best way to go was contact with the third rail. 25 minutes later we pull into Kendall and it’s like nothing happened. They scrape em’ up quick. 

But I will say this – public transit is much better, especially tracked public transit then driving. My commute time is approximately the same whether I take the train or drive. Where public transit really shines is in cost – much less expensive than driving. Plus you get to sit, or stand as the case may be on the Red Line towards Alewife. But you can still hit facebook on your phone and it’s only about a ten minute ride from Central Square to South Station. 

Riding the MBTA October 3, 2013

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Over the years I’ve ridden:

1) The Commuter Rail between Providence and Boston

2) The Red Line from South Station to Braintree

3) The Green Line from Copley Station to Newton Station

4) The Orange line – so long ago I forget which.

The only ones I haven’t used are the Silver Line and the Blue Line.

I’ve used MBTA Buses on occasion too.

 

 

RIPTA could learn a thing or two from MBTA April 12, 2013

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Ok, so tonight RIPTA once again managed to piss me off. The MBTA train ride home wasn’t bad. But it was cold and rainy. I happened to have one ride left on my 15-ride card.

So I walked down to Kennedy Plaza, checked the RIPTA web site on my phone and found the #28 bus would be there in < 5 minutes. Cool!

And as is wont to happen when RIPTA is involved – the bus NEVER came. It was supposed to be there at 6:26PM. By 6:36 no bus. I decided to walk, and deliberately walked the path the bus runs. No bus.

Now to contrast – I’ve been taking the MBTA Providence Line commuter and then the Green Line for a few weeks now. They’re both ON TIME nearly every single time. Granted, I know this is Apples to Oranges because in both cases the MBTA vehicles travel on dedicated track.

But it’s worse – a private shuttle gets me from the train stop on the Green Line to my office. That shuttle is ALWAYS on time too. And I note you can pretty much set your watch by the MBTA’s #59 bus. Just as I’m coming up the ramp from the station that bus is always just taking off. It’s funny how they know how to keep a schedule yet RIPTA seems incapable of keeping a schedule, unless it’s on their vaunted R-Line (Formerly the #11 and #99 bus).

The other joke – RIPTA did traffic and ridership studies. Turns out I live on the 2nd busiest route of their entire system. Yet they can’t seem to get a bus to keep to a schedule.

I’ve ripped into RIPTA before but now that I’m using MBTA services again I have to say it, RIPTA ain’t shit. They can’t even move to build a streetcar line. The project is completely stalled for over a year now. And of course they dipshitedly decided to plunk the first line between the hospital complex on the south side and Brown University on the east side.

The above despite studies that have said, when you build a line into an economically depressed area it suddenly starts climbing out of the depression. But no, RIPTA and their ‘experts’ chose to link two already well established areas. Fucking nitwits.

I’m thinking maybe we should scrap RIPTA entirely and invite the MBTA to take it over lock, stock and fucking barrel.

MBTA Stuff August 29, 2008

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So for the past few weeks I’ve been riding the Providence to Boston MBTA commuter. And I find myself searching out a car that has WiFi every time I ride.

Apparently MBTA is the first transit company to install WiFi on its commuter rail. I think it serves a dual purpose though since this has also happened at about the same time they rolled out the Charlie Card. I was trying to think how they could use a stored value Charlie Card on a commuter rail and then it hit me, just use a wireless device that the MBCR (Mass Bay Commuter Rail) employees can swipe the card against. The side benefit is we commuting schlubs get WiFi out of the deal.

Then from Boston I take the Red Line down to Braintree. Yes it’s a long commute but well worth it.

Anyhow here’s what I noticed. They tend to treat the older Red Line cars more gently. Those are the ones that are white with the red stripe. The newer cars are stainless steel with a red stripe at the bottom. The newer cars also have the LCD destination signs and for stop announcements there are the red LED signs and the automated voice. Interestingly that picture is taken at the station where I get off, Braintree. Both sides are used for inbound so that lower part that says “Next Train” lights red. When a train is about to leave a loud bell is rung and you’ve got about 30 or 40 seconds to get on the train before it starts for Boston.

As I was saying, the older cars are treated more gently. They’re rattle traps so they tend to keep the speeds under 40MPH, while they push the newer cars up past 50MPH.

I also found out an interesting fact. They only have a three hour window to do track repairs on that line. The service starts off at about 5AM and ends at roughly 1AM. So you’d think they have four hours but they have to make sure all the cars are in the barn and then power off the track, then roll the repair car out and then do their work.

Part of the reason is because the subway system in Boston is the oldest in the nation.

But it makes me wonder, how did Boston end up with such a great transit system and Providence got the shit end of the stick? Up until about 1950 we had trolleys that ran on power supplied by overhead catenary and the train station in Providence was a hopping place right up until then. Here’s a photo of one of the tracked trolleys and then one of the trackless trolleys in 1946. By 1950 they were all gone.

But then that’s when the highway projects started, and GM and Standard Oil started National City Lines to get transit companies to use buses that burned diesel and went through tires like crazy. And of course it’s why RI’s transit authority RIPTA is in such dire straits today.

I’d like to see the MBTA absorb RIPTA, along with GATRA and SEPTA. Make it one humongous regional system. The MBTA commuter already runs into Providence and soon it will run to TF Green airport in Warwick. Plans are also on the board for stations in Wickford and Westerly. That will be nice.

But it’s going to take a while for that to happen.

The commute to work. August 21, 2008

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Generally speaking the commute to work isn’t too bad but I found out this week it does have its moments.

Two days ago the train was stopped at the Rte. 128 station for a medical emergency. That delayed us by about 20 minutes.

Then this evening it was delayed because of track congestion. But this time I was only about a ten minute delay before we got back to Providence.

The MBTA Red Line runs like a clock though. Those subway cars can hit 50MPH which is quite fast for a small train. But because it stops so often it takes 20 minutes to cover 12 miles.

Been paying cash for everything since it didn’t make sense to drop $250 on a pass midway through the month. Of course I’ll probably spend $250 for two weeks but hey, the job pays enough to cover that.

Got a Charlie Card but I can only use that on the subways or buses. The commuter rail isn’t yet setup for it but they will be shortly. They’re rolling out WiFi on the commuter trains little by little so its likely they’ll use the WiFi on the trains to connect devices that can read and write Charlie Cards.

I also have a 3-track reader/writer. I’ll let your imagination run free there but I will tell you that the re loadable Charlie Card has already been hacked and I have in my possession the information necessary to deposit say $653 on my card. Not that I’ve done so, I’ve actually put about $40 on the card.

I do want to swipe through a few of the RIPTA change cards and things of that nature and see what I get. I bet that’s not secure either.

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