Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Amtrak Strike

Alas, yet another blow to the MBTA's commuter rail system! If late trains were not enough, now Amtrak (which dispatches MBTA commuter rail trains in and out of South Station) workers are threatening to strike. Legally, they cannot call a strike until January 31, 2008. The workers have been on the job for eight years without a contract and only given cost of living raises as needed. So what if they go on strike? Well, to the best of knowledge...

- Greenbush Line terminates at Quincy Center or JFK/UMass

- Old Colony Line terminates at Braintree, Quincy Center, or JFK/UMass

- Fairmount Line: Use Local Bus Service

- Providence/Stoughton Line: NO SERVICE!

- Franklin Line terminates at Ruggles or possibly Back Bay

- Needham Line terminates at Forest Hills or possibly Ruggles

- Framingham/Worcester Line terminates at Back Bay Station

And of course, crush loads during rush hours on the Red and Orange Line.

Sounds like fun.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Mattapan Line Photos

More To Come Later...

The Mattapan High Speed Line Reopening!

It was an overcast and chilly day when the Mattapan High Speed Line resumed service after an eighteen month shut down. I had arrived at Mattapan Station at about 8:15AM. Once I got off the bus, which used the newly refurbished busway, I walked over to the inspector's office. A small group of T officials were gathered on the platform. One of them was directing people to the trolleys and the others were making sure that everything else was running smoothly. I had heard that practically everyone in the Green Line training school class had been assigned "CSA" duty, i.e. they would have to stand at each stop and tell passengers that the shuttle bus (Route 799, which ran in lieu of trolleys during the shut down) had been discontinued and the trolley was back up. Looking over at the yard, I saw that the 100 year old Type 3 snow plow (#5164) and the PCC wire car (#3332) had been carted way, hopefully to Seashore.

Car 3262 had derailed next to the inspector's office due to ice and slush on the rail. Since the line has no work equipment whatsoever, they had to call over to Riverside to get help. Now, I would think that a line such as the Mattapan Line, which is virtually "cut off" from the rest of the system (track wise) ought to have all the work equipment it needs (sand cars, wire cars, snow plows, etc.). Alas, it looks like that whenever something goes wrong, Riverside will have to bail them out.

Many of the passengers were also in for some sticker shock. Before the line had closed, it had been a "free service" (technically, a fare had always been charged, but it had not been enforced for sometime). When the shuttle bus began operation, it too did not charge any fares. The fare increase in January 2007 changed all that, however, as $1.25 was now being charged for the shuttle. Many had thought that when the trolley returned, it would be free as well (I personally thought that the T would charge $1.25 each way). We were all in for a shock. The fare was now $1.70! Many people asked "You have to pay now? I've never paid for the trolley in my life!"
What is even worse is that if you take the bus to Mattapan, then the trolley to Ashmont, then the Red Line downtown, that's $3.40 one way! $1.25 for the bus, $0.45 transfer to the trolley, then another $1.70 at Ashmont. Yes, there is another set of faregates (really farebox surplus from the bus garages) at Ashmont. A rather ridiculous set up if you ask me.

After getting some lunch, I spent the rest of the afternoon photographing around the line before going home. There is still some work to be done on the line and Ashmont is still far from being completed (maybe in late 2008/early 2009). All in all, however, the line looks quite nice and I look forward to many long years of riding and enjoying it.