MBTA blog postings

MBTA Postings

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

November 7, 2013

MBTA train delay

This morning the 7:30 am train from Worcester was significantly delayed due to police activity in an unknown location. About 20 mins after the delay started the MBTA communication team announced the delay via Twitter and text alerts.

The info alert at the train station said the train was 20 minutes behind schedule and was not moving. About every minute they tack on additional minute to the behind schedule.

The problem is that they didn't communicate where the train was. I was talking to a fellow commuter in Framingham and she was confused of how long the delay would be. Was the train stuck in Ashland or still in Worcester?

I decided to reply to the twitter alert and asked them where the train was stuck. There were about 60 people waiting for the train, and I was the only one to take action and inquire more details about the delay. I was happy that they responded:

MBTA Tweet

This allowed me to decide that the (P514) train might be a good option to take. So I crossed the pedestrian bridge and waited.

It turned out that the 8:55 train arrived (P514) about 30 seconds before the 7:30 train arrived (P512), but I knew that the 8:55 train would be sitting for about 15 minuted before departing to Boston and the better option is to take the delayed train. The only good thing about taking the (P514) train would be that it wouldn't be as crowded, but since I was already late I took a quick run to catch the delay train.

Two things that I learned about today's experience; One, inquire more details when the train is going to be late and don't be afraid to talk to people around the station!

October 15, 2013

MBTA Ticket Reminder

Just a friendly reminder if you take any MBTA Commuter rail, do not place your ticket on the seat tab in front of you.

This morning a passenger next to me put her 10 ride pass on the seat tab in front of her. Since the train was running late, the conductors weren't going around checking for tickets. She forgot that she placed it in front of her. When we got to Yawkee stop which was not a scheduled stop, but since we were running late we were making all stops. She quickly got up and got off the train, leaving her ticket behind.

I didn't see the ticket until I got up at the Back Bay station stop, otherwise I would have said something. Her forgetting to check the seat cost her to loose the $80 ticket.

The life lesson here is to hold on to the ticket until the conductor ask for it. After showing it to them, place it back in your wallet.

September 6, 2013

Framingham Train Breakdown

A year ago today was one of the longest times that it took to from Boston to Framingham. That's because the MBTA train that I was on broke down. The MBTA crew wasn't able to fix this, as a results we had to get push and every person on the train had to get off at Wellesley Farms and get on another train.

While this was happening, I was tweeting with other passengers on the train behind us. The delayed caused everyone getting home by an hour and a half. I even tweeted that Boston Marathon Runners can get to Boston in faster time.

If you have RealAudio, you can hear the train announcements as it was happening on September 6, 2012. It's nice that the conductor put some humor into some of the messages.

This exact situation happened again on August 26, 2013 with the exact same situation.

September 5, 2013

Driving to Boston

This morning I had to drive into Boston because I need to go to the airport tonight. This is the first time that I drove into Boston for work. For the past 2 years, I have taken the MBTA Commuter Rail from Framingham.

Factoid:
Framingham Commuter Rail to Back Bay: 45 mins (P516)
Driving to Back Bay via Mass Pike Exit 13:  38 mins

I arrived into the office 15 minutes earlier than usual. I save additional time by parking underneath the building normally I would have a 10 minute walk from BackBay. I was impressed on how quickly I got in since there was a fair amount of traffic on the Mass Pike by the Weston Tolls and just before the Star Market overpass.

When I was on the Mass Pike in Newton and Brighton I saw the P510, Framingham 8am local, train go by. This train left Framingham the same time I did.  My usual train the P516, 9:11 express train was still in route someplace in Wellesley.

It wasn?t all that bad dealing with the peak of the rush hour on the Mass Pike. Traffic might have been slightly less than normal because of Rosh Hashanah.

My Mass Pike Tip: Stay in the left Fast Pass lane at the Weston tolls. This makes the merge after the toll a little easy since you only have to worry about the traffic on your right.

My Speen Street Tip: Stay in the right lane on Speen Street after the Home Depot light in Natick. That puts you in the correct lane to take a left on Cochituate and makes it easy to get on the Mass Pike. Just watch for cars making sudden lane changes as you get near the on ramp.

I wouldn?t recommend doing this commute everyday. Taking the train does has its advantages such as, reading books, responding to emails, doing some daily prep work and more importantly the overall cost savings. The Monthly Garage Parking in Boston starts at $305 a month, plus MassPike Tolls and gas. A monthly commuter rail ticket cost $252, plus local parking, which usually ends up still being cheaper than parking in Boston.

Taking the train is more predictable than driving into Boston, while there has been a few delays, for the most part you can be certain that 85% of the time it takes 45 minutes to get to/from Framingham to Boston regardless of weather conditions.

June 27, 2013

Pearl Street Parking

Today I learned that the Pearl Street Garage in Framingham was at one time a VERY popular parking spot for commuters taking the commuter rail. In fact, there was a waiting list just to park in the garage!

So what happened? Higher prices? Better parking near the train station?

The 2009 recession is what happened. According to someone that has parked at the garage for many years, the latest recession has taken a big hit on commuters going to Boston and as a result there has been fewer and fewer cars parking in the garage.

As we start climbing out of this recession, and that new jobs are created in the city, I am confident that commuters will return to parking at Pearl Street. It's the best deal in Framingham for MBTA commuters.

So, if your considering taking the commuter rail from Framingham, I highly suggest taking a look at the Pearl Street Garage before the parking garage fills up again!

May 31, 2013

Parking at the Framingham MBTA Lot

Currently it cost $4 to park all day at the Framingham MBTA parking lot. There are 200 parking spaces and by the 8:45am inbound train most of the parking spaces are full.

If your going to a Red Sox game, you shouldn't have a problem getting a parking spot after 4:30, as that's when spots start opening up again as early commuters head home. In fact, by 5pm you may even get some of the premium parking spots next to the train station.

When I had to park at the lot a couple of times this week, I was wondering where I would get change so that I could put in $4 in the money slot. I ended up going to CVS and buying a couple of things and asking them to break a $20.

An alternative I later found is using the "Pay by Phone Parking" system by ParkMobile. You simply download their mobile application at www.parkmobile.com and register your car. The Framingham MBTA stop is Zone 116. This seems to be an easy way to pay for parking without having to look for $4 and to run to deposit your money in the money box when your running late.

More importantly there is no transaction fee for customers at MBTA lots where Parkmobile is available! Yes! This means you don't have to fumble around to find $4 to park!

May 2, 2013

MBTA Super Express Train

The MBTA recently added two new super express trains will make it much quicker to get from Boston to Framingham, cutting about 10 minutes off the regular express train.

I took one of the outbound express trains a day after it started. The were plenty of MBTA personal at the Back Bay terminal letting passengers know that next train would be the super express train and that the regular train would be arriving shorly after.

The train itself had fewer cars than other cars during the rush hour commute. There appered to be 2 cars short and none of the cars were double deckers which sit more passengers.

During the commute they counted all the passengers twice, by two different individuals. One was counting the number of passengers in the car and the other the total number of passengers on the train.

I thought there would be more available seating, but I was one of three people in the last car that was standing during the entire commute. I suspect that the train afterwards had more room than normal. There were a lot of people getting off at Framingham, my best guess would be less than half the train got off at the Framingham stop.

There's rumors that the MBTA will add additional express trains later this Fall. Also the Yakee Station should be finished this Fall, and that will adjust the train schedules so that the trains can run a bit more frequent. They had to adjust the schedules last Spring for the construction.

April 25, 2013

Pearl Street Garage Could Get MBTA Commuter Shuttle

Some big news for those that park at the Pearl Street Garage. From the Framingham Patch:

Officials are discussing a plan with the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority to operate a shuttle bus from the the town?s Pearl St. parking garage to the MBTA commuter rail station.

?The hope is that this service together with the fact that we have opened the garage up for free commuter parking will increase its use,? Town Manager Robert Halpin said. That in turn will make the parking lot safer for all, he added.

March 27, 2013

iGoogle

Google's iGoogle service is a way to create a custom homepage of custom widgets. You can have a widget to track stock trading, latest ski conditions, the 'funny joke of the day' and so much more! Really cool way to get all your information in one place.

On November 1st, 2013, the iGoogle service will not exist any more. I can't complain too much since I haven't spent any money using iGoogle. That's why I supposed that Google is pulling the plug since it hasn't made that much money from this service and feel that web apps built into Chrome will replace the feature.You can find these in the Google's Chrome Store.

One of the features I liked about iGoogle is the ability to have custom search widgets. I can have a widget which will show me all the latest news related to Framingham, and another which will tell me any news about the MBTA. I can scan the headlines and read only the stories that appeal to me.

Google News has some similar features, so I'll play around with that. I'll miss having a single source of information.

March 13, 2013

Commuter Deduction

A followup to last week's posting about the Commuter Fringe Benefit offered by the IRS. The state of Massachusetts also has a Commuter Deduction. According to the Massachusetts Filing and Payment information page:

If an employer pays for an employee's MBTA pass, the amount by which the value of the pass exceeds $125 a month is included in the employee's income and reported as wages on the employee's W-2. To calculate the commuter deduction in these circumstances, the employee first deducts the $125 a month ($1,500 a year) from the cost of the pass; the remainder is the amount qualifying for the commuter deduction. The amount of the commuter deduction is the portion of the qualifying expenses that exceeds $150, and the total amount deducted cannot exceed $750.

May sure to to talk to your tax adviser on how to fill out the Massachusetts Schedule Y if you a commuter rail rider. This is a good deduction to take advantage to offset the price increase in done in July.