by Maxine Tassinari Teixeira
Special to eastboston.com
ON TIME SERVICE WE GUARANTEE IT!!!!! Wow, a startling
concept when one is riding on the T, reading the wall and currently stopped between Wood
Island and Airport.
It really says that and goes
on to say you have a right to it. How can they possibly guarantee on-time service when
the variables that make the trains go are so unpredictable? Well, what they say is
"In the event your service is delayed over 30 minutes, well give you a
Technically, they are not guaranteeing anything but the complimentary fare
the next time your service is delayed over 30 minutes. And it will be thats
guaranteed. In that event, you can get a free round trip fare. However, if you buy a
monthly pass, you dont pay less the next month. The voucher is good for two tokens
only. You can use then when you dont buy a pass or give them a friend or family
The Customer Rights campaign that the T has come up with is impressive.
For years passengers have been trapped in trains going nowhere with no idea why. Now you
have a right to be notified of significant service delays. They guarantee (again) to keep
you informed with "timely, accurate service delay information." Passengers are
funny, we get mad when we are stopped in the middle of nowhere and dont know why and
now we get instantly annoyed when they keep telling us why.
The best part of this whole campaign is you can "WRITE TO THE
TOP". So I did. I emailed Ms. Lisa Bono the Blue Line Chief and surprise! She
answered! I wanted to know the answers to questions that Blue Line passengers have asked
each other for years. "Where do they go?" People waiting to go into Boston will
swear that five trains head for the Heights for every one train that comes back. Ms. Bono
says: "The Blue Line is basically a big circle. It sometimes appears that there are
more trains going in one direction but that is not the case.
for instance the
morning rush hour - the Blue line runs 14 trains. The trains traveling from Wonderland to
Boston pick up tremendous amounts of passengers at each station.
. The passengers
primarily depart at State, and Government Center. Thus the trains traveling to Boston
require more time. The trains then circle around at Bowdoin and continue back to
Wonderland. Because the ridership is far lighter, the running time from Government to
Wonderland is reduced greatly. This effect creates the illusion that there are more trains
going in one direction, and is reversed during the afternoon rush."
That may be the case, but we riders will always believe they sneak off to
hide in the Heights barn.
The other big question is why do the trains just stop. They announce
"traffic up ahead". Traffic???? Where did it come from. This usually happens
around Airport. Presently, the ongoing construction of the new Airport station
(thats what that is!) is affecting the running times of trains through the area.
According to Ms. Bono "Depending on the work that is being
done, some days are faster than others. We try to schedule the work at Airport to off peak
hours, but because the station construction is in conjunction with the central artery
project, this cannot always be accomplished." This is what sets off the signals that
stop trains for "traffic up ahead". Ms Bono again "The system is
designed to keep the trains a safe distance apart. When an operator says there is
Traffic ahead, there is most likely another train in the next signal block,
and must wait for the signal system to display a green in order to proceed."
Blue Line riders also know there are delays because of "signal
problems". The line uses lights like street lights. When it is safe for a train to
proceed, the light is green and not safe red. The system sends an electrical signal
through the tracks so that when trains enter an area the correct signal shows. A failure
of the system causes the lights to go red. This is done for safety. MBTA personnel then
have to go to the affected area and make sure the track is clear. Then they have to signal
the trains manually. As Ms Bono says, "When taken as a whole
the signal system
is an incredibly complex piece of equipment to ensure commuter safety.
So what causes such a complex piece of equipment to fail? I didnt
ask Ms. Bono that, but any passenger can tell you there are times it seems like wind,
rain, snow, or sun can do it.
The Blue Line is the oldest of the Ts lines. It uses parts of the
old Narrow Gauge roadbed and Maverick Station was there when the old streetcars would
travel up and down Bennington Street, go into the tunnel at Maverick and emerge at
Atlantic Avenue. Given its age and the alternative - which would be to drive into Boston
and park for anywhere from $13.00 to $21.00 per day the Blue Line is the best game