Friday, December 29, 2006


While I consider my job as the Transport Avenger to be quite important, it doesn't exactly pay the bills.
I will begin a new job in the new year, and unfortunately that job location is not on any public transport lines, so this blog will be on a semi-permanent hiatus for awhile.
However, while I am away, my trusty companions eLo and Mr. Mac will regale me with tales of T employee incompetence, shoddy service, and fellow riders who are annoying, and of course, I shall pass those tales along to you.
Stay well, my children, I shall return!

Monday, December 18, 2006

You Get What You Pay For


But dontcha think that half a million dollars is quite enough for a website?

The T released a new version of last Friday, and it was nice, real nice.
Nice layout, navigation, features, color palette, fonts, etc.
Real, real nice.

That is, when it could be accessed.

Almost immediately the site was down, supposedly because it was overwhelmed with visitors.
I can see that happening, but when you drop $466,000 on a project that included all new web servers, according to the Boston Globe, wouldn't you expect it to work?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Slight Departure...

...from my normal raging.
It seems that this CharlieCard thing is actually good.
I know, I can't believe it either.
While the CharlieTicket makes sense vs. tokens and cash, it's still incredibly slow to use since it has to be fed into the fare gate.
Oddly, London Underground uses a similar ticket system, but they engineered it so the the ticket screams out of the machine and the gates open immediately.
So I went into South Station, walked up to the window, asked for one of the new (semi, i.e.; 3-5 year lifespan) permanent CharlieCards, got it (free, which I'm sure is temporary), put cash on it, and went on my way.
It's great to just tap the card on the sensor. Getting on a bus takes a second, and the gates on the subway open with no delay.

Now don't fuck it up, MBTA.

Friday, November 17, 2006


these are snippets from the story of the Greenbush CR line, that goes down towards the cape, and finally being (re) built after many years.
this line was an active freight and commuter line until the mid-70's, when it was abandoned by the B&M railroad.
in that time many NIMBY's have bought in the area, and tried to sue the state from re-activating the line.

# T officials admit they "wasted" $300,000 for tunnels placed under the tracks to allow endangered spotted turtles to reach nearby pools. That species was taken off the endangered list midway through construction.

huh? the T wasted money?

# In Cohasset, the town asked that parking spaces at the station be made wider to accommodate larger sport utility vehicles.

come on! please make spots larger to accommodate my wasteful car that usually carries one person at a time?! also, the town of cohasset was the most vocal AGAINST even building the line. since that is the case, and these people clearly don't want to take the T anywhere, why should the T lot fit their cars?
fyi, parking space sizing is regulated by the state, even when on private property, and must all be a uniform size. nobody gets a break for larger cars, unless it's a handicap spot.

#T officials also said that they seriously considered a woman's request to have the T pay for Prozac for her dog, who she said would be traumatized by the train noise. The woman's claim was eventually denied.

the T was actually going to pay for it?! f-ing idiots, as is the woman, who thinks that dogs need mental medicines.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Slow Train To Dawn

I know that the T is fixing the switches and signals on the Orange line, but COME ON!

It's been 4 years, and the damn thing still doesn't work right.

Thanks for making me 20 minutes late today.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Probable Cause

The Romney administration has ORDERED the T to resume bag searches.


Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with it, unless it got repetitive.
But just what is "probable cause"?
A kid with blue hair?
A person of a certain ethnicity?
Or do you actually have to be doing something illegal?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

For Your Protection

I saw a couple of Transportation Security Authority people on the SL platform at South Station today, one of whom looked to be about 12 years old.
What's the point?
They don't have guns, they don't even have walkie-talkies to call the real cops if something goes down, so why bother staffing with them?

Your tax dollars at work!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Response

To my post yesterday, which I made a nicer version of and sent to all the T chiefs on the Red, Blue, Orange, Green, and Silver lines, plus Mac Daniel at the Globe, and the GM at the T.


Dear Mr. Callahan,

Thank you for your email regarding additional train service.

The Blue Line has been operating extra service trains since the tragedy
surrounding the tunnel closures. We can operate one additional train
during rush periods, but are running most of the extra service during
traditional non-peak periods. Including the extra, rush hour service is
maximized at 14 trains operating every 3.75 minutes. I do not have the
equipment (trains), personnel, or capability with the signal system to
operate any more service during the peak periods. The Red and Green
Lines are similarly challenged.

Regular Commuter Rail and Commuter Boat service has much longer
headways between scheduled trips, so adding extra service for these
modes is possible.

Because of the additional roadway traffic congestion, some people are
commuting to work during off-peak hours. These commuters are benefitting
from more service at those times.

We certainly do want people to use public transportation! We are
striving to improve our services so that we can attract new, and retain
current, customers.

Thank you again for writing.


Lisa Bono
Chief of Blue Line Operations

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Off Peak

"The MBTA will increase service on the Orange and Blue subway lines during off-peak hours and add extra trains when the Green and Red lines are too crowded. Additional commuter trains will be added during off-peak hours from the Route 128 Station in Westwood and the Anderson Regional Transportation Center in Woburn. In Quincy, more commuter ferries will be added for commuters during peak hours."

What is the rationale here? Why not extra trains on all 4 lines?
Considering that lack of communication at the T on a normal f-up, how are they going to know when to get more Red or Green trains out?
And why add extra service at NON peak hours when there are generally fewer people in the system, hence the term "Off-peak", when they are adding extra ferries?
Add the trains for the commute, you idiots!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Please Don't Fix

What KILLS me is that they actually are asking the public about it, and then:

"the T will make the decision whether to go forward with the new changes"

Generally I feel the riders should be consulted, but come on. This is clearly a move in the right direction.
Other than the unbelievably ugly fabric on the seats, these are all no brainers.

Ummm. No, MBTA, please do not put accurate maps in the cars, I'd rather not know where I'm going. And make the seats easy to tear and graffitti on.
Oh, and I'm short, so make sure I can't hang on.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Just Walk It

At Wellington station there was a people mover to get travellers from the parking garage, which is quite far away, to the station.
For some bizarre reason, the T has decided to shut down the people mover, put in shuttle bus - the T loves buses! why don't we just rip up all the rails and use buses instead? As an aside, the T also proposed to use buses between Kendall and Park St. during the bridge work near Charles/MGH, AFTER the city offered to shift the tracks over so the train could continue. Idiots.
Anyway, so for now you can take a shuttle bus from the garage to the station, that is until the covered pedestrian bridge is constructed. Of course, they couldn't build it next to the people mover and let that run until it was finished.
It's well over a quarter mile from the garage to the station. If you're parked in the far left corner of the garage, good luck. You may as well drive the remaining 4 miles into Boston.
The only reason I can think of for replacing the people mover with a regular bridge is to satisfy the needs of the developers building in that area.
And the PEOPLE lose out to big business yet again.

Friday, August 11, 2006

You'll See

T cops are doing a sweep of every Logan-bound SL bus once it gets to the SL Way stop.
That's cool and everything, but this is not:

Courthouse stop, kid gets on with baggage, and is instructed by the T "inspector" to make sure the bag is set a certain way on the floor, etc. Again, not an issue.
The kid, understandably, asks, very politely, why it matters how his baggage is oriented.
"Just do it. You'll see why in a few stops, alright?!" yells the inspector.

What a dick.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wanna Bet?

Last night I was walking to the Silver Line Way stop when I noticed that the bus-stop-type (see, it IS a bus, it doesn't even use a subway-type-sign) sign is missing a very important notation: SL1.
SL1 is the route name for the Silver Line (SL, get it? Clever, MBTA!) bus that goes from South Station to Logan and back again.
This particular stop is where the SL1(Logan), SL2(BMIP), and SL3(City Point) split off from one another.
You can also end up on the "watefront" bus, which doesn't get an SL designation. It makes a loop at this stop and goes back to South Station.
Anyway, so I see a T inspector (what, exactly, are they inspecting?) and I mentioned to him that the bus-stop-type-sign doesn't list SL1, just SL2 and SL3.
Now keep in mind, there IS a sandwich board there telling people that they can catch a Logan bound bus at the stop, but that is not the point of my story. Or maybe it is.

The exchange:

Me: Hi.
Him: Hi.
Me: Did you know that the bus stop sign doesn't say SL1? It only says SL2 and SL3.
Him: Yes it does.
Me: No, it doesn't. I just looked at it, and took a photo with my phone.
Him: It does say it.
Me: No, it doesn't.
Him: Wanna bet?
Me: Yes, I'd love to bet. Do you want to look at it now?

So we walk over to the stop where I point out the sign to him.

Me: See? SL2 BMIP, SL3 City Point.
Him: There is a sign right there.
Me: You mean the sandwich board?
Him: Yeah.
Me: I see that. What I said was...
Him: You said that there wasn't a sign.
Me: No, I...
Him: You said that there wasn't a sign, and there it is.
Him: Oh, you're just trying to make a point.

Uhhhhh. Yeah, you idiot.

This is similar to an exhange way back that I had about station maps on this line, and the line chief basically lied to me until I caught him out on it.

Is Matt Amorello secretly running the T?


Spotted last night in South Station on the Red Line platform, northbound:

Four workers watching a fifth worker mop a wet patch on the floor.

Oh, to be union.......

Sunday, June 25, 2006


From the blue line chief, regarding a message I sent about the new train announcements:

Thank you for you comments regarding the new LED Signs, and station
announcements. The announcements are triggered by the signal system that
governs train movement. It is possible to countdown to train arrivals,
but the decision was made to limit the number of approaching train

I'm stunned.
So the T CAN do it, but they just don't feel like it?!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Money For Nothing

A cut of the profit of sales?
How does that make any sense?
By getting people in your store to get the card, they're likely to buy something from you. It's called "loss-leading".
So now the T is not only getting businesses to help fund the card and system in the form of advertising, but they're giving them money back to them?
How about a cut in the price of the frigging fare for the people who have to look at your stupid corporate logo everywhere?

Link to the Globe article:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Nice Laaaaayyydeeey!

Apparently the monthly pass policy has been that you must be in the system for 20 minutes before you are allowed back in once you exit. This is to discourage "pass-backs" of monthly passes. That's fine, though 20 minutes is too long. So with the old turnstyles, you'd be locked out, but could always flash your pass at the person the booth, and they'd let you in the handicap entrance.

Not so with the Charlie Card. There is still the 20 minute window, but now they won't even let you through, as experienced by the guy in this article:

Well today it happened to me.

Today I had to get out at South Station to get some cash, as there are no BofA ATM's in the Marine Industrial Park.
So I got to SS and politely asked the CSA - who was a complete bitch, literally, I was 6" from her saying "excuse me, excuse me" and she just kept looking the other way - if I could come back in, as I had a monthly pass.
"Have you been on for 20 minutes?"
"I think so, but I'm not sure"
"Then you'll have to pay again"
"But I've got a monthly pass, you are seeing me exit, and I will come to you to get back in, can I do that?"
"I don't care what you do, as long as it's been 20 minutes."


Former token sellers are now referred to as CSA's, or Customer Service Agents. I'm thinking that the acronym really stands for inCompetent Surly Assholes.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Out Of Touch

I've written a bit about the new LED train arrival announcement system, and how hopefully it will get better, and actually let you know when the train will arrive. Currently, it only tells you when the train is about to enter the station. Nice, but utterly useless, as you can see the damn thing coming anyway.

Then today I read this from the Globe:

"The system can count down the minutes until a train arrives, but Grabauskas said that isn't necessary.

'You don't need 15 minutes lead time for a rapid transit train," he said. ''If you know you have enough time to get down the stairs, that may be all the information our customers need.' "

What a dope. He clearly drives to work.
Looks like the new boss is, in fact, the same as the old boss.
If the technology is ALREADY THERE, why not use it?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Balancing Act

To the people who think that they can hold a hot cup of coffee in one hand, a magazine or something else in the other, while standing, NOT hold onto a grab bar on the train, and manage to not fall victim to the laws of motion:


There was a woman today who tried that and fell everytime the train started and stopped, the whole way into town.
Plus, she was a doctor or nurse, unless she just liked to wear scrubs, and had a packet of Marlboro reds poking out of her jacket.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mr. Mac Has A Tale

Thought you’d appreciate this- I got off at Malden Station last night, and it was raining so I went to take the bus, but where the 101 picks people up there was a bus with a hand-written sign in the side window that said “93”. So, I looked at the front of the bus and the LED sign in front (the one on the side was broken) said “101”. When I got on, this cranky-ass bus driver was lambasting this woman passenger in her 60’s saying “Have you ever taken the 93?!? Have you?!? Have you ever seen it at Malden Station?!? No! Because it doesn’t go to Malden Station, so how could this be the 93 bus?!?” It was crazy. So, when I was getting off at my stop I asked if he wanted me to take down the hand-written sign. He said “No, whatever, it’s fine”. My phone started ringing, so that’s all I said. Lucky for him, because I was going to drag him out of the bus and attack him with my sock full of rocks if my phone hadn’t rung.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


My T stop got the new fare gates installed, and as promised there were helpful T employees showing people how to use the new ticket machines.
Helpful, that is, if you were only travelling to and from stations that accept the new tickets.
A family of 6 was buying tickets, and the T guy told them that they only needed to buy 1 ticket, but put enough value on it for all 6 riders.
What he didn't tell them was that that ticket wouldn't be valid for their return trip!
Given their full-on red sox gear, I assumed that they were going to the game last night.
So I walked up, next to the T guy and asked them if they were going.
Yes, they replied.
Well, you're going to have to buy 6 tokens for your return trip then once you get to Kenmore (or Ruggles, if they were taking the shuttle).
Why, they cried, but, we just bought 12 rides on this ticket!
Well, that guy forgot to tell you that the new value-added tickets aren't usable in the old turnstile stations.

Monday, May 01, 2006

New Scam, I mean, Fare Structure

So with the new Charlie Card comes a huge fare increase.
We heard about this awhile back, and it's a good notice this time, with the increase to start in January 2007.
It's still a giant increase though, especially considering that they are elminating the subway and bus passes to make a combo pass called the OnePass.
There are combo passes now, and that's great if you happen to take the bus and subway on a regular basis.
I don't, and now my pass will go from $44 to $62 a month since I can take the bus if I want to - and I don't.
This means that now the T will cost more than the NYC subway for a monthly rider.

Nice one!

Out Of Sight...

This morning a conductor was cleaning up all the Metro papers that the idiots left on the floor of the train.
This is clearly not his job, so it's cool he even did it.
Instead of picking them up and walking, literally, 4 feet away to put them in the bin, he took about 5 minutes to jam them down between the platform and the train.
Did he think that they wouldn't be visible once the train pulled out of the station.
What an asshole.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Too Bus-y To Do Anything About It

Oak Grove bus stop.
A mild mannered T bus approaches.
Eager commuters crane their necks to catch a glimpse of the bus route on the LED sign.
Not surprisingly, the sign is all wacky, and there is a nice white sheet of paper taped to the windshield with the route number on it.
For the first time ever, the sign is not written with a sharpie, but is printed from a computer.
What's this? Route 101? But that goes from Malden Ctr. to Sullivan Square.
Oh, I see, the side LED sign has the correct route number on it.
But wait, there is also a paper 101 sign below the LED.
What is going on?
So I step onto the bus (#0250) and ask the driver if this is indeed going where I want to be.
Yeah, comes the surly reply, it's on the side sign.
But, pointing to sign on the front window, you know this says '101', right?
Yeah, and the side sign says the correct route.
But, there is also a '101' sign underneath, so which is it?
It's 'XXX'!
Oh. why don't you take down the paper signs then?
Well what if they switch this bus to the other route?

Since the bus was stopping at a T stop, they tend to wait for a load of people to board, so it wasn't that big a deal. However, when a bus is coming at you at 40 MPH, and you're waiting on the curb at a bus stop, you look at the front window.
If the route displayed is not the one you want, you generally step back, and the driver knows to keep on going past you.
Now if you had stepped back from this bus, there is no way you could see the side LED, with the correct route, until the bus almost ran you down.
By that point, you've missed the bus.

Free Rides!

If you're especially skint, or you just like sticking it to the man, head on over to Oak Grove in the next few weeks for a free ride on the T.
They are in the midst of replacing the old turnstiles with the new Charlie Card fare gates, and barely have staff watching commuters going into the station.
I have a monthly pass, and you can only see if it is current by looking at the back.
Have I once been asked to show the pass back?
Yesterday afternoon the "watcher" was getting a coffee at D&D's while groups of people just waltzed in.
And what's with the coin box they've got going? Do you think they'll check to see if you chucked in $1.25, a token, or a washer?
And even if they did open the thing up, how could they prove you scammed them?
Here's an idea to generate more revenue, Mr. Grabauskas:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Expensive Litter-ature

Today the T is handing out full color leaflets telling the travelling public to be aware of potential terrorist action.
They're nice leaflets, 3 panel, nice design, and of course, totally useless.
"If you see something, say something." "Accidentally left behind, or an accident waiting to happen?"
I was handed one by a smiling (!) T employee on my way into the station, and by the time I got to the train, there were loads of discarded copies on the ground, in the bin - where I put mine - and on the train seats.
All these handouts will accomplish is a (most likely) union affiliated print shop making a tidy profit, and the cleaning guy getting some overtime.
The Metro noted that 30,000 would be handed out on the commuter rail. I'm guessing that means that about 100,000 were produced for this event, as they can only have enough staff to hand them out at "key" stations in the T system.
Instead of placing trash around the system, why not have more POLICE on the trains and in the stations?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Quick Response

I'm stunned. I had sent a quick letter to the Orange line chief - who probably doesn't really know the dilli-o - cc'd the GM, of course, and got a response from engineering.

From the T:

Thank you for your interest and for taking the time to write to us
regarding the new LED signs.

The new signs are part of an on-going project which is updating our PA
and LED announcement capabilities at key stations. The signs you
mention will provide service-related information, such as approaching
train information, next train designation and service announcements.
The information will begin transmitting in early April.

Thank you again for your inquiry and for your continued support of
public transportation.


Caroline Dunne
Infrastructure & Engineering
500 Arborway, Second Floor
Jamaica Plain, MA. 02130
617 222 1820 - Tel
617 222 3918 - Fax

Friday, March 10, 2006


I noticed the new orange LED signs at DTX today.
Other than the size and color, are they any different than the old red signs?
That is, are they actually going to tell us anything other than not to smoke?
How much more money can the T waste on stuff like this?
Whose brother works for the sign company?
In case you're not in the know, the T has had LED signs for years in many stations. I can imagine that they cost a good amount, even if the T goes with the lowest bidder.
The thing is that these signs have done NOTHING. EVER.
All they've told is not to smoke and to visit
They are almost as bad as the "announcements" the T makes telling us to hold on to the handrail on escalators.

Orange Scorn

Mr. Mac feels slighted, and perhaps a bit scared....

I was leaning on the conductor’s booth door this morning when it opened up. The conductor, a middle-aged woman, apologized, as did I for leaning against the door. Then she went to the middle of the train to check something out, and when she came back to the booth she said to me “You shouldn’t lean against that door because I might have to open it again. In fact, I might open it up on purpose if you’re leaning against it”. How about that?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

You Knew I'd Be Pissed About This

Right then, another fare hike.
Another year of no improvements.
Another lame excuse.
And yet another reason to HATE UNIONS.
Really, does an organization as small as the MBTA need 30 unions?
I'm not familiar with the details, but why?
So say you've got your unions for the people who repair the trains and drive the trains, and maybe another for the conductors.
Who else is part of a union?
The cleaners?
I'm pretty sure they're 3rd party contracts, not T employees.
The management?
Nope, they are definitely not unionized.
Who else then?
In reality, you don't need any unions, as this country has LABOR LAWS.
The only people benefitting from the union are the union bosses.
The T has raised fares about 54% since I started taking it daily into Boston, say in the last 6 years or so.
I want to rage quite a bit longer on the fare hike, but I've got so much to say that I can't type as fast as my mind is grinding away.

Friday, February 10, 2006

"Got to stay in touch even though we’re on the move/Keep your lines open, say, what’s new"

here's an old story i forgot to report:

one afternoon my green line train was stopped for 15 mins+ between kenmore and hynes convention. one simple action prevented anarchy: the conductor actually picked up his microphone and told us WHAT WAS GOING ON! i know, it's a crazy idea but i swear it's the truth. he not only told us why we were stopped (the signals were down or something like that) but he told us how long we should expect to wait. whomever this man was, he should be schooling his coworkers in common sense.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

They Should Call It The Brown Line

Because it's SHITE.

Really, how hard is it to schedule?
Last night there was a South Station bound bus sitting at my stop, just idling. With all the lights on. So you assumed you could get on. But there wasn't a driver in it.
So instead, we waited 10 minutes until a very packed bus from Logan showed up.
The Logan buses have luggage racks, meaning there isn't much standing room if the seats are taken, and they were.
As it pulled up, 2 more SS bound buses showed up, but we weren't allowed in them.
Then they didn't even express the far-too-full bus I was on through to SS, even though there were 2 empty buses behind us. They just kept letting people get on.
By the time we got to SS, I felt like I was on one of those Japanese subway cars. You know, like this:

When we got to SS, the 1st bus behind us had 5 people on it, and the 2nd one had 2.
That's some good planning.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The List

I've been getting a list together of all the orange line cars that have maps showing the Auditorium stop on them, as well as showing a green/orange connection at Forest Hills.
Auditorium was changed to Hynes/ICA in 1988/89, and the Arborway section of the green was shut down around the same time.
For years I've been asking the T to get the maps fixed.
The response?
"We checked out the cars, and didn't find any with the old map."
I'll have the full list of car numbers to send to the orange line chief in a week or so.

Get. Out. Of. My. Way.

What is wrong with you people?
Are you drinking before work?
Why can't you walk in a straight line?
Tip: A set of stairs is generally about 6' wide.
That means two people can walk side by side up or down the stairs.
When you walk in the middle, nobody can pass you.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


This is stupid.
The T is just now coming up with a computerized system to track employee absences?
Some people that read this may think that my comment reeks of conservative republican politics, but 2 fingers to you, my friends, you can't pigeonhole me into one ideology.
The problem is the unions. You can do no work, and someone will try to defend you so you keep your job. Why are they even unions anymore? The company I work for doesn't have one, and I get 5 sick days per year, and 10 vacation days. If I use them up, that's my problem.
21 days absent? Unless you have a short term disability, then that is insane.
From today's Boston Globe:

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Diversion

I'm pretty much all about travel by train, but sometimes I have to fly somewhere, like Chicago, which you can read about in the previous post.
All I'd like to say about plane travel, no matter where you are coming from or going to, is that PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS.

The scenario:

You're in the gate area, waiting for your row, or group, to be called. What do you do? You SIT DOWN UNTIL YOUR GROUP IS CALLED. YOU DO NOT GET UP AND STAND IN A GIANT GROUP AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE GATE.
The wife and I were in group 3, and of course everyone got up and stood around, so that we couldn't tell where the line began to get on the plane.

Query to "up-talker" girls in front of me:

Me:"Are you in line?"
Her:"Uh, as much as anybody else is."
Me:"Are you even IN group 3?!"
Me:"Then get out of the line. Jeez."

Then we get on the plane. It's packed, and people are standing in the aisle, as if they have no idea that there are people trying to get by them. The stewardess is announcing to NOT PUT YOUR JACKETS IN THE OVERHEAD BINS SO THAT BAGS CAN FIT THERE.
What are the people directly opposite me putting in the bin?
When some people couldn't find an empty bin to place their bags, the stewardess went from bin to bin and asked who owned the jackets within. Who claimed a jacket?
So the woman just chucked them on an empty seat.
Anyway, that's that.

The Windy City

Went to Chicago last weekend. It is not actually the windiest city. The award goes to the Blue Hills area of Milton, MA, but I digress.
As you probably have heard, Chicago's transit is called the el, even though only a small portion of it is elevated.
Only had the chance to go on the Red Line, but it was ok. Nice stations, smaller trains than Boston, and certainly a bad map design. They try to use the real dimensions between stations, so that the downtown loop area needs to be on a seperate inset.
They should take a cue from London Transport and map a diagramatic map and get it all in one area.