Framingham Blog Posts
MBTA Train Doors
The MBTA commuter rail is looking to improve their image after the dabocile service this past winter. Here's one way they can make a difference without having to spend thousands of dollars and will make taking the train a bit easier for everyone.
Every morning thousands of Massachusetts commuters, from Lowell to Providence, RI, line up to take the morning train to Boston. Everyone is playing the guessing game of, what's my commute going to be like today.
Many of the commuters stand by the platform hoping that they are standing where they think the conductor opens the doors. Many riders are disappointed when the train arrives and finds out that their are only 2 conductors, or its a shorter train for their time, and people have to run to the nearest available door.
I understand that it doesn't make sense to announce conductor train coverage over various social media channels since it may prevent people from seeing more important information. One way to solve this problem is to have a numerical indicator as the train arrives that the train only has 2 conductors, regular commuters can change where they are standing and move to the front or rear of the train.
A more practical solution would be to put a 'star' indicator on the door window if that door will be open when the train stops. This also could serve as a benefit to those on the train that are looking to get off, they will know that it is an active door. There has been many times when I am standing by a door, and someone will ask if it's a door a conductor will open.
I believe having a universal symbol letting people know which door will be open at stops, can make taking the commuter rail stress free. It should also help those that don't take the train everyday understand the process.
Every morning commuters get a fresh first impression of the MBTA commuter rail, it would be good if the MBTA did something to help start the day off right. Until then, we'll all just hope that we are standing in the right place.
Questions about Solar Energy
Recently we decided to go solar and have Solar panels install on the backside of our house. We signed a twenty year contract with Sungevity. We are still early in the process as we just had some come over the house and do some data gathering.
During the process we had some questions about going solar. We were satisfied with the answers we got, and decided that it's worth going solar in Massachusetts. Here are some questions about the solar system we asked during the initial call:
- What happens if we sell the house?
- Will we still have electricity during a power outage?
- Do we need to upgrade our electric box?
- How much out of pocket expense will this cost us?
- What about New England winters? Things like ice jams and raking the roof?
- What happens with advancement of technology? Can we upgrade the solar panels?
- What if we had a sudden change in electrical consumption, such as a long hot summer or we install a pool/sauna?
- What happens if we need a new roof?
I decided not to post the answers that Sungivity gave us during the initial interview since could change their answer over time.
Framingham Secondary Rail Line
How quickly people forget the transportation disaster of the 2015 Winter. Here are a couple of quotes regarding the MBTA purchasing additional rail real estate.
On February 12, 2015.... in the early days of the MBTA winter debacle:
"Why is the MBTA purchasing rail beds when it has issues with its preventive maintenance program on existing tracks?" Charlie Baker asked. "From where I sit, I think it's pretty clear we should be making the investments in existing tracks and not buying new tracks."
"Given the current $768 million deficit and the challenges experienced by the MBTA, Governor Baker wants to work with Secretary Pollack and the MBTA to address the current maintenance issues causing unreliable service and find a solution to restore operations for commuters that depend on the T to get to work or school before dedicating resources to a new rail project," spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton said.
124 days later on June 17, 2015.... in a Press Release, the MBTA announces...
Today, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced it had completed the acquisition of the Framingham Secondary Rail Line, a 21-mile segment of rail that connects Framingham and Mansfield. The line was purchased from CSX Corporation for $23 million.
"After careful consideration of the agreement to purchase the Framingham Secondary Rail Line from CSX, MassDOT concluded that acquiring this rail asset supports our goals of increasing use of freight rail, which takes trucks off our highways and reduces greenhouse gases by consolidating the movement of freight," said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack.
Source...MBTA Press Release
The MBTA must have considered that $1 million a mile was not going to distrupt existing maintenance issues related to last years winter storm.
The Sub-Way & Pizza
If you want really good Gluten-free pizza, then head to Sub-way & Pizza in Framingham. No it isn't that Subway place your thinking of, this is a local pizza shop that really delivers when looking for good Gluten-free pizza. (Yes there regular pizza is awesome!)
If you have Celiac Disease, just let them know and they will go the extra mile to make sure their is no cross contamination. Your pizza is cooked on a special foil to make sure that there's no cross contamination in the oven.
Framingham Subway & Pizza makes great pizza and it's nice to see that they bring their cooking specialty to customers who have to eat Gluten-free. Try the Pepperoni pizza - it's really good.
When you go, park in the back of the building. It can be tricky to pull out of the front parking spaces because of the proximity to the street.
The The Sub-Way & Pizza is located on 510 Union Ave, Framingham, MA 01702. Place your order by calling them at (508) 879-8818(508) 879-8818.
Pedestrian Walking here
It appears to me that Framingham DPW is sending out a hidden message. Late last year the DPW put in a new access road from the MBTA parking lot to Pearl Street. This made it easier for train commuters to avoid the downtown traffic.
On the new walkway from the MBTA Parking lot to the Pearl Street exit is a painted line to separate the one way exit and where pedestrians should walk. What's really strange is the walking symbol that is painted on the pavement. It appears that the person is a little chubby.
There are 3 painted walking symbols on the pavements and they all have the same look. Could this be a new nationwide symbol or the Framingham DPW playing a trick on those that walking the path?
Take a look at the picture with today's Blog post. What do you think? Does the person look a bit chubby in the midsection? Think this picture is Photoshop? Go to the Framingham MBTA parking lot and check yourself!
Click on the image for the full size picture.
Randy Giveans Pano
Google+ Photo's "Auto Awesome" feature did a phenomenal job stitching some photos that I took of Randy Giveans as he was running the 2015 Boston Marathon. This was taken near the 5 mile mark in Framingham near the La Cantina resturant.
Be sure to check out all the cool things you can do with Google Photos.
Winter Storm 2015
In February when I was busy cleaning snow off the roof, I took my camera and took some pictures of the backyard. Thanks to the "Auto Awesome" feature of Google+, it automatically joined several pictures to create a panoramic view.
Google+ Photo feature is very cool, check it out! I would highly recommend to use it to backup all the images on your computer. Every once in a while a picture or pictures will be selected and given some cool "Auto Awesome" effect. Some effects that you may encounter: Motion, Mix, Panoramic photo, Snow, Eraser, HDR, and Smile.
Google has a "Google+ Auto Backup" software that you can download that will upload all your images into Google Photos. Good news for Macintosh users, that the software will backup your photos in iPhoto! You can select what folders to backup. If you don't want to use up any of your Google Drive Storage make sure to select the Standard size. The standard size converts all large images to 2048px, which still is a good size for most anything your doing online. Besides, having a 2048px backup version of an image is better than not having a backup.
Just a quick word of warning, it may take some time if you have a lot of photos:
Framingham Train Yard
There is something going on in the train yard near the Framingham MBTA station. For some reason, CSX needed to have some of the area plowed in February. There has been mobile units on the site since the September.
Here's one possible motive to what's going on. (From the MBTA FAQ page)
Recently, the MBTA awarded an "Early Action" rail de-stressing contract for 7.5 miles on the Worcester/Framingham line, and work is scheduled to start at the end of July 2014. However, the heat restrictions will likely stay in place during warm temperatures. The MBTA is also in process of procuring 80,000 linear feet of rail and will begin work to replace the rest of the old on the Worcester/Framingham line starting next April 2015. De-stressing section of the line will then continue through the 2016 construction season. When that work is complete, Worcester/Framingham passengers will hopefully be freed from heat-related delays.
Early Extra Train
This morning I had the opportunity to catch the early 7:19 train and it certainly seems a much better option than the 8:45 train. The train was waiting at the station and left exactly at 7:19.
The 7:19 is a extra train out of Framingham to handle the large number of early morning commuters that take the 506 train which leaves Worcester at 6:35.
The conductor announced that they left Framingham a bit early because the train behind it ( 506 from Worcester) was already full. He also advised passengers to not put any personal items on the seats because they expect the train to be packed. When we pulled into Back Bay, I did see some double seats that only had one passenger.
The train pulled into Back Bay around 8:26, leaving the ride to be more than an hour long to get into Boston. The train was late by about 10 minutes due to heavy ridership.
After I arrived at Back bay, I got a text message that my regular train, the 514 @ 8:45 was delayed due to "train traffic ahead." Basically the heavy rider ship slow down causes the delay for the later trains.
Keolis needs to fix the Worcester/Framingham schedule. Even if they don't add additional trains, they could at least put in more realistic times due to the large number of commuters. One solution would be making the 'extra' train a 7am train to minimize the train traffic delays.
Worcester/Framingham users will have to wait till next Monday to see any improvements to the schedule since the MBTA changed the schedule for "Service Recovery" on February 18th.
Still no good
For some odd reason the 508/514 train is cursed. It has not managed to arrive on time once in the past two weeks. To me this is a clear sign that the MBTA is still a long way from making the 100% schedule.
Today the p514 was 15 minutes late. The MBTA had posted that the train was running about 30 mins late. I have heard that earlier trains are getting better.
Later today we'll find out the schedule changes for next week, but I am not hopeful that there will be much improvement from this week.