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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, we’ll give you a complimentary fare."

Technically, they are not guaranteeing anything but the complimentary fare the next time your service is delayed over 30 minutes. And it will be – that’s guaranteed. In that event, you can get a free round trip fare. However, if you buy a monthly pass, you don’t pay less the next month. The voucher is good for two tokens only. You can use then when you don’t buy a pass or give them a friend or family member.

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 don’t 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 (that’s 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 didn’t 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 T’s 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 in town.


Related links:

Go to MBTA's Bill of Rights


2001,Maxine Tassinari-Teixeira, All rights reserved.
Today is 11/04/2017

1995-2001, All rights reserved. CB Publishing, East Boston, MA 02128