Friday, July 31, 2009

In My Travels...

Over the past week or two I've come across some interesting things in my travels. A recent ride on RTS #0010 revealed that not only has the axle-grinding problem (which produces a foul odor in the rear of the bus) not been fixed, but part of the steering column housing has disappeared as well! The speedometer also did not seem to work; it stated that we were traveling across the Tobin Bridge at zero miles per hour. The sooner that bus is sent to Everett to be scrapped, the better!

It seems that the Silver Line Washington Street extension to South Station is a step closer to becoming a reality. At least four of the Neoplan AN460's (i.e. the buses used on the Route 39 and SL Washington) have been repainted from the general MBTA paint scheme into Silver Line colors. I spotted 1030 broken down at Newton Street several days ago:

Sorry for the terrible photo.

Now with these four buses having been repainted (1018, 1019, and 1020 are the others), it seems only natural that bus assignments out of Southampton Garage would change. There are 44 sixty-foot buses in the MBTA fleet; all assigned to Southampton. With fewer "normal colored" buses available, all Route 32 trips have been dropped from the garage. Arborway will now provide all the equipment for this route. Southampton had formerly offered five articulated buses for rush hour service on the line.

No more 60' buses for rush hour service? Crowding will surely worsen on the high ridership Hyde Park route! To offset this, two or three Arborway buses have been added to the line for increased capacity. The improved rush hour headway is now every 3-4 mins. I plan to take a ride and see how things are going.

At least the Forest Hills inspector will no longer have to deal with this:

Occasionally, Southampton would send out one of their 40' New Flyer C40s instead of a sixty-footer. Very helpful!

The MBTA fare increase/service cuts workshops are coming up next week (August 10th-27th). I have yet to see tangible booklets detailing the particulars being distributed, but at least a few people managed to get their hands on them:

Found on the floor of an Orange Line train laid up at Oak Grove

I plan on attending several workshops and the final hearing at the State Transportation Building. Visit the MBTA website for workshop dates and locations. Ten points if you can find where to click on the homepage in five minutes or less.

As a final note, I snapped these two pics:

Notice anything unusual?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The 112 Can't Find Its Way Home

The other day an elderly friend of mine related the story of her recent ride on the 112. It was her first time taking the route, so she asked the operator if the bus travels past the newly renovated Market Basket in Chelsea. He said it did and my friend boarded. The operator then dropped her off at Spruce Street and Everett Avenue, near the Market Basket, and informed her that "the next bus will take you into the mall [where Market Basket is located]." For those of you who do not know, there is an actual MBTA bus stop located at Market Basket several feet from the main entrance. Route 112 buses (along with Route 114-1 buses in the midday) serve this stop on all trips; save for a few early morning trips. Why this operator dropped her off near the market rather than at it is an interesting question. On many of the trips I've taken on the 112 recently, when we arrive at Market Basket there is a small group of people asking where the bus in the opposite direction is. "The guy just passed me," the operator states, "Didn't you see him?" Apparently, a few operators are either accidentally or intentionally skipping this stop.

Since the new supermarket opened the 112 has been having a bit of trouble adjusting. A few of the operators at Charlestown have been debating what is the "true" route of the 112 in the Admiral's Hill/Mystic Mall area. Do you serve the market first, then Admiral's Hill? Or vice versa? Some operators have their own interpretation of the new route description.

In addition, I have heard several stories about operators (as one veteran pointed out, mostly rookies) getting lost in the new expanded parking lot. How exactly this happens, I have no idea. It does not seem that difficult to navigate through.

Hopefully things will get ironed out soon.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Rare Beastie

Spotted this downtown recently:

One of the more unique vehicles in the MBTA fleet.

6019 is the closest thing the MBTA has to a minibus. I have only spotted it in revenue service once; at Ashmont Station assigned to Route 798 (Mattapan Trolley Shuttle via Eliot Street). It does not have a farebox (last time I checked), so who knows how the passengers paid back then. Its primary function is to serve as a shuttle for transit officials on excursions around the system.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the T had a small fleet of these?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ed Dana Would Be In Tears...

Pick your poison: 19.5% fare increase or draconian service cuts. As the MBTA booklet I received yesterday points out, it's "your service, your choice". The MBTA is proposing an overall fare increase to generate added revenue ($69,000,000) to "maintain the same level of service to its customers for the next two years." So what does a 19.5% fare increase look like exactly? Below is a sampling of some of the proposed new fares and pass prices:

Local Bus $1.50 (w/CharlieCard) - $2.00 (cash or CharlieTicket)
Monthly Local Bus Pass $47.00
Monthly Inner Express Bus Pass $102.00
Monthly Outer Express Bus Pass $150.00

Rapid Transit $2.00 (w/CharlieCard) - $2.50 (cash or CharlieTicket)
Monthly Link Pass $69.00

Commuter Rail Zone 1 - $5.00
Commuter Rail Zone 2 - $5.50
Commuter Rail Zone 3 - $6.00
Commuter Rail Zone 4 - $6.75
Commuter Rail Zone 5 - $7.25
Commuter Rail Zone 6 - $7.75
Commuter Rail Zone 7 - $8.25
Commuter Rail Zone 8 - $8.75

Monthly Commuter Rail passes would range from $69.00 (Zone 1A) to $280.00 (Zone 8)

For those of you who want fares to stay exactly as they are now, the MBTA would have to make drastic cutbacks in service to compensate. Even then, it would only save $55,000,000 and (in the eyes of the MBTA) be a bigger blow to commuters.

The following bus routes would be discontinued entirely:

Route 04 North Station - Boston Marine Industrial Park
Route 05 City Point - McCormack Housing Development
Route 08 Kenmore Station - Harbor Point
Route 17 Andrew Station - Fields Corner Station
Route 18 Andrew Station - Ashmont Station
Route 25 Ruggles Station - Franklin Park via Warren Street
Route 29 Mattapan Station - Jackson Square Station
Route 33 Mattapan Station - River & Milton Streets
Route 34E Forest Hills Station - Walpole
Route 48 Jamaica Plain Loop
Route 52 Watertown Yard - Charles River Loop OR Dedham Mall
Route 55 Park Street Station - Queensbury
Route 59 Watertown Square - Needham Junction
Route 60 Kenmore Station - Chestnut Hill
Route 62 Alewife Station - Bedford VA Hospital
Route 72 Harvard Subway - Huron Avenue
Route 76 Alewife Station - Hanscom Air Base/Lincoln Labs
Route 78 Harvard Station - Arlmont
Route 79 Alewife Station - Arlington Heights
Route 83 Central Square, Cambridge - Rindge Avenue
Route 85 Kendall Station - Spring Hill
Route 90 Wellington Station - Davis Station
Route 121 Maverick Station - Eagle Square OR Wood Island Station
Route 136 Malden Center Station - Reading
Route 137 Malden Center Station - Reading
Route 170 Dudley Station - Waltham Industrial Parks
Route 201 Fields Corner Station - Neponset Belt Line
Route 202 Fields Corner Station - Neponest Belt Line
Route 217 Ashmont Station - Quincy Center Station via Wollaston
Route 230 Quincy Center Station - Montello
Route 236 Quincy Center Station - South Shore Plaza
Route 238 Quincy Center Station - Crawford Square
Route 240 Ashmont Station - Crawford Square OR Avon Square
Route 245 Quincy Center Station - Mattapan Station
Route 274 Long Island - Moon Island
Route 275 Long Island - Downtown Boston OR Albany Street Garage
Route 276 Long Island - Boston Medical Center
Route 277 Shattuck Shelter - Park Street Station
Route 325 Haymarket Station - Elm Street via I-93
Route 350 Alewife Station - North Burlington
Route 351 Alewife Station - Oak Park
Route 352 Haymarket Station - Burlington via I-93
Route 354 Haymarket Station - Woburn via I-93
Route 355 Haymarket Station - Mishawum via I-93
Route 431 Central Square, Lynn - Neptune Towers
Route 434 Haymarket Station - Peabody Square
Route 435 Central Square, Lynn - Liberty Tree Mall OR Danvers Square
Route 436 Central Square, Lynn - Liberty Tree Mall
Route 439 Central Square, Lynn - Nahant
Route 448 Marblehead - Downtown Crossing via Paradise Road
Route 449 Marblehead - Downtown Crossing via Humphrey Street
Route 451 Salem Depot - North Beverly
Route 459 Salem Depot - Downtown Crossing
Route 465 Salem Depot - Danvers Square
Route 468 Salem Depot - Danvers Square via Margin Street
Route 500 Downtown Boston - Riverside Station via MassPike
Route 501 Downtown Boston - Brighton Center via MassPike
Route 502 Copley Square - Watertown Yard via MassPike
Route 503 Copley Square - Brighton Center via MassPike
Route 504 Downtown Boston - Watertown Yard via MassPike
Route 505 Downtown Boston - Waltham via MassPike
Route 555 Downtown Boston - Riverside Station via Copley Square
Route 558 Riverside Station - Newton Corner OR Downtown Boston
Route 701 Central Square, Cambridge - Boston Medical Center (Route CT1)

The following MBTA bus routes would lose all weekend service:

Route 132 Malden Center Station - Stoneham
Route 553 Newton Corner - Roberts
Route 554 Newton Corner - Waverly

The following MBTA bus routes would have their schedules "altered":

Route 07 Downtown - City Point via Summer Street
Route 09 City Point - Copley Square via Broadway
Route 14 Roslindale Square - Heath Street
Route 16 Andrew Station - Forest Hills Station
Route 31 Mattapan Station - Forest Hills Station via Morton Street
Route 64 Central Square, Cambridge - Oak Square
Route 68 Harvard Square - Kendall Station
Route 71 Harvard Subway - Watertown Square
Route 73 Harvard Subway - Waverly Square
Route 74 Harvard Station - Belmont Center
Route 92 Sullivan Station - Downtown via Main Street
Route 93 Sullivan Station - Downtown via Bunker Hill
Route 95 Sullivan Station - West Medford
Route 99 Wellington Station - Boston Regional Medical Center
Route 112 Wellington Station - Wood Island Station
Route 114 Maverick Station - Bellingham Square OR Mystic Mall
Route 120 Maverick Station - Orient Heights
Route 214 Quincy Center Station - Germantown
Route 215 Quincy Center Station - Ashmont Station via East Milton Square
Route 216 Quincy Center Station - Hough's Neck
Route 220 Quincy Center Station - Hingham
Route 326 Haymarket Station - West Medford via I-93
Route 441 Marblehead - Haymarket via Paradise Road
Route 442 Marblehead - Haymarket via Humphrey Street
Route 450 Salem Depot - Haymarket via Western Avenue
Route 455 Salem Depot - Haymarket via Loring Avenue

The MBTA supplemental bus service (i.e. the "Supplementals" and "school trips") would be scaled back; if not reduced entirely.

All remaining bus service would have service evenings and weekends cut in half.

Quincy & Lynn Garages would be closed nights and weekends.
All other routes at these garages would lose service at these times.

The following Green Line stations would close:

BU East (B Branch)
BU West (B Branch)
Pleasant Street (B Branch)
Brandon Hall (C Branch)
Saint Paul Street (C Branch)
Hawes Street (C Branch)

The E Branch of the Green Line would be cutback from Heath Street to Brigham Circle.
E Line service would also be eliminated on weekends.

Subway service overall would be reduced by 50% during the midday, nights, and on weekends.

The following Commuter Rail stations would close:

Hastings, Silver Hill, Waverly, Plimptonville, Readville (Franklin Line only), Wyoming Hill, Ballardvale, Greenwood, Plymouth, Mishawum, Rowley, West Gloucester,
Beverly Farms, and Prides Crossing

ALL Commuter Rail service would be eliminated after 7PM weeknights, and all day weekends

ALL Ferry service would be eliminated, along with the Suburban Transportation Program subsidies and the Private Carrier Program subsidies.

The RIDE service area would be extensively redefined.

Again, these things would only happen if there is NO FARE INCREASE.

Whew. So how many cities and towns would lose local MBTA service? I lost count at ten.

Pay more? Or lose service? After all, it's "your choice"!