MBTA blog postings

MBTA Postings

Earliest: May 17, 2005Latest: June 11, 2017Total: 67

September 16, 2015

Bad Air Sponge

Bad Air Sponge

Have you ever been waiting for a commuter rail in Boston's Back Bay commuter station? Have you ever smelled how bad the station is?

Well of late it hasn't been all that bad and it appears that the change may be related to the MBTA using a different cleaning brand - Bad Air Sponge. I took a picture of a box that I found lying near the tracks, I believe that it fell down from the ceiling.

We have two cats and the basement has the bad smell due to the fact that's where their litter box is. We have tried many things to get rid of that litter box smell. I think this might be the solution.

Hey if it's good enough for the Back Bay Station, it's probably good enough for our basement. Can't hurt to try!

Thanks to the MBTA for keeping the smell down at the waiting area at the Back Bay Station.

September 3, 2015

MBTA T-Alerts

While sitting in a nice air condition office, the MBTA kindly let's me know how hot is is outside. On hot days, I get a text notifications about the delays on the Worcester/Framingham commuter rail train due to heat restrictions.

The longer the train delays means that it's pretty hot outside. It seems that most of the delays impact the early afternoon trains. Usually by 5pm the delays aren't as bad.

Heat restrictions are a problem only with the Worcester/Framingham line. This is because CSX used welded steel rail which can expand during high heat. To avoid any derailment, trains have to go slow.

You can join in on the MBTA weather fun by signing up to the MBTA T-Alerts on their website. It's a handy notification to have when you need to know ab

August 12, 2015

Talking on the Phone on the Train

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that phone call that you had on the train - ya everyone else around you heard it too. We all know about the medical problems that your father had and we wish him the best in recovery.

Yes, there is no privacy on the train. You are not sitting in a private car cabin - at least not on the MBTA. We are all pretending to not hear you talk on the phone. Yet we hold on to every word that you say - trying to make sense of the conversation that you are having.

What to Do?

Whatever call you have to deal with, it can wait until you get off the train. Every passengers that travel the same route in the 60s, 70s and 80s had to do away with being out of touch on their commute. I am sure whatever issue that comes up, it can wait.

If you do need to be on the phone, just keep in mind that everyone around you can hear what you are saying - so be careful of what you say. Try not to dish any dirty laundry.

August 10, 2015

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.

The Problem

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.

Potential Solution

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.

 

August 4, 2015

Swiss Gear Laptop Backpack

I have taken the MBTA commuter rail to work for the past four years. During that time, I have used several different types of bags to carry my laptop and my lunch. I have used my LL Bean hand held bag, a Targus laptop bag and a small non-laptop bag. The best bag that I have used is the Swiss Gear Laptop Backpack.

The SINPAID Laptop Backpack Notebook Business Bag Travel (SA 1908) has been well tested as the perfect MBTA commuter rail bag. It has handled many brutal winters where it was put down on many salty commuter rail platforms and still works and looks awesome.

There are a couple of slots to keep an umbrella (wet or dry) so that's always available. I never have to worry about checking the weather because I have a nice practical umbrella that opens fast. It's been used a lot of times in heavy rain and wind storms.

Some of my lunches have leaked a little in the main compartment of the bag bag on my morning journey. The bag is very easy to clean and doesn't smell. I don't have to worry about my laptop or papers from getting dirty.

I keep a USB charger in the bag with a couple of cables. This has come in handy for those extended train delays during this past winter. I needed to charge my phone and Amazon Kindle devices since the cold air was draining the batteries faster than they should.

If you looking for a bag, or a perfect gift for a commuter, consider getting the bag. You can find it in Amazon, Staples or at a Swiss store. Make sure to include an umbrella and USB charger as a nice touch! You will find that it will get a lot of miles out of it.

June 23, 2015

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.

MBTA Winter

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.

Source...thesunchronicle.com

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.

May 28, 2015

Kindle Fire HD 7 review

Over the past few months I have been using a Kindle Fire HD 7 on my commute to and from Boston. This replaced my older Amazon Kindle Touch which I have been using off and on for two years.

The purpose of having a Kindle was to make it easy to read books on the train. Paper books were fine until I wanted to read bigger books and it didn't make sense carrying heavy books on my daily commute.

My new Kindle is very practical and allows me to not only read the latest books but with the Internet access on the MBTA I can do some Internet surfing too. I have found other Applications to be useful too.

The TED application allows me to download TED videos that I can watch on the train. The app has a cool functionality to pick random clip based on the time you have and the category your interested in.

Using EverNote, I can browse the Internet on my home computer and send interesting documents to my Evernote account. Just before I leave for the train I sync my Evernote on my Kindle to get the documents. I have a Premium account and that lets me download the full content of a notebook to my Kindle. So I don't have to be online to read the content. Which is good because Internet access in Wellesley is pretty bad.

The best thing about the Kindle is that I don't need to be tied into buying and reading books from the Amazon bookstore. I can easily read PDF documents - which was nearly impossible on the Kindle Touch. In addition, there are plenty of places online where I can get free books.

Having the Kindle HD 7 is a great education tool. I now take full advantage of my morning commute time to learn about different thing. The Kindle fits perfectly in the front slot of my Swiss Gear Backpack, so I can quickly get to it once I find a seat on the train.

Some of you know that I am a huge Macintosh fan. Why am I not using a iMac Mini? The Kindle Fire HD 7 is much better overall solution to use and it meets the simple needs for my daily commute. In the past 5 months that I have used my Kindle, I have not encountered any technical issues. It would be nice to have all the same Apps that I have on my phone, but having a Kindle allows me to stay focus.

So if your one of the thousands of MBTA Commuter Rail commuters traveling to Boston everyday and using your phone on your commute, check out the Kindle HD 7. I think it will make your commute a lot more productive.

April 29, 2015

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.

March 25, 2015

Framingham Train Yard


[ Click for a larger version ]

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.

March 9, 2015

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.