It turned out that a few days of having an extra coach on the Franklin #715 train was NOT a harbinger of good things to come. Instead, it was the harbinger of doom.
Not only is the train back to six single-level coaches (at most), but they've put the worst conductor in the entire system back onto that run. He's the angry, rage-filled conductor; the rudest conductor I've ever seen. We'd all hoped that we'd seen the last of him when he disappeared about two years ago, but he's back.
The MBCR has, of course, been having a lot of problems lately. The conductor's union has reportedly been engaging in an unofficial slowdown, "working to the rules" in order to reduce the timeliness of the entire system to 84%. That's the worst performance of any commuter rail system in American, apparently.
I've certainly seen a difference. On almost every train one of the two doors and stairwells is now closed and unusable. I haven't seen any conductors complain if a passenger opens a closed stairwell, though, so at least that's a positive thing.
There was an article recently reporting that South Station trains have the worst record in the system. It's nice to have confirmation of what I suspected, although I wish that wasn't necessary.
Trains have been late more often than usual, and the Franklin #715 continues to be jam-packed every evening. There are, as always, ten or more standees per coach, and they stand for 25 minutes or longer.
In fact, for several days I took the extra time to go to South Station and board the train there rather than at Ruggles, just to be able to get a seat. I had a long-term medical test done (the results came in and I'm fine), and standing for long periods was extremely uncomfortable. I've also been going home at different times thanks to the weather and other circumstances of the season; most other Franklin trains that I've taken have considerably more capacity than the #715, for some reason, so I haven't had much to report.
But I've heard a number of stories from other passengers about terrible service on the line. It would seem that things just won't change under the MBCR. And since the MBTA just re-signed the MBCR to a three-year management contract, the future does not look bright.
The worst service in the nation (I got four free tickets recently for trains that were more than half an hour late), undoubtedly thousands of passenger complaints...and the MBTA rewards the MBCR.
Talk about taxation without representation! At this point, I have to wonder if passengers will just have to rise up and throw the management of both the MBCR and the MBTA into Boston Harbor.