Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The First 2008 Hot Car Report

I didn't expect this so early in the season, but today the temperature in Boston climbed to 86°. So welcome to the first Hot Car report of the season!

The Franklin #715 was short again today; five coaches instead of the six that we used to expect. It's been down to five for a few days, though, so maybe that's the new status quo.

I counted 14-15 people riding in the vestibule, not counting the conductor of course. The number is slightly indeterminate because people do tend to stand in the doorway as well. Inside the coach itself...well, it was the worst I've seen in a while. I was able to count at least 24 standees (not counting the people in the vestibule) up to the mid-point of the coach. Beyond that point I couldn't count accurately, but since the far side was visibly as packed as the side I was on, it's a very safe bet to say that there were at least 45 people standing in the coach - and probably more.

Among the standees were some young children riding with their mother, by the way.

No fares were collected, of course. Although I heard that one eager young go-getter of an assistant conductor had tried to collect fares after the train had emptied out a lot; I think it was at the Norwood Center stop the day before. From what I was told, he ended up with a mini-revolution on his hands. Angry passengers wanted to know why anyone who had gotten off before that point had been able to get a free ride.

The coach behind mine was pretty crowded. The people in it were visibly sweltering. We were all chatting - there's nothing like being packed like sardines and getting really awful service to get people to break through the usual barriers to conversation - and it soon came out that the other car had no AC. In fact, some passengers seriously claimed that they thought that the heat was on! That didn't sound impossible to me, since I've experienced the same thing on some hot days on the T.

I was horrified to see a baby in a stroller in the hot car, too.

The hot car was #628. I heard that there was another hot car on the same train, so at Walpole I hopped out and ran down to the next and final car - #1504. Sure enough, it was hot too - extremely hot. It was still crowded enough for people to be jammed in the vestibule, and one of the people riding there was a woman who had to be at least six months pregnant. She told me it was better riding in the vestibule than riding in either of the broiling-hot coaches on either side of her.

Ironically, I had lost my patience (again) and written some complaints before the ride home tonight! I "wrote to the top" first (it was hardly the first time, though). Bob Stoetzel has written to me several times with explanations and apologies, but no action has ever been taken. By the way, isn't it funny that the T's "Write to the Top" page doesn't allow you to write to the actual head of the T, Dan Grabauskas? I couldn't find his email address anywhere on the MBTA site.

Since I've never gotten a satisfactory answer from the MBTA before, I wasn't inclined to let matters lie there. So I wrote to Governor Patrick's office again, specifically pointing out that A) increasing numbers of riders are in real danger, and B) since the MBTA management had repeatedly ignored the issue, referring my email to MBTA management (again) would not be helpful.

Then I called both the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe. Had to leave voicemail at the Herald, but I talked to someone on the tip line at the Globe; not a reporter, I think, but I told him about the danger to the commuting public and gave him my phone numbers.

Maybe tomorrow I'll contact the Boston Phoenix, too. I'd call the Metro, but they never seemed to show much interest. It's a pity that BostonNOW! is gone; they were the only ones who covered this issue much.

Oh, a quick wave to LesserEvil, who was riding in the same vestibule as me. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one blogging about the miserable state of the commuter rail, and about the Franklin line in particular!


Geoff said...

Grabauskas' email is, but the one time I emailed him, a response came from Bob Stoetzel. Ol' Bobby's gone now, though, so I'm willing to bet your email will go ignored.

Quasit said...

Thanks! I had absolutely no idea that Bob Stoetzel was no longer with the T. Funny, the T webmaster apparently didn't either - typical T efficiency!

As for Dan, while I don't envy him his job (I'll admit I envy his salary), I simply don't trust him. He's misled the public in the past about schedule changes, for one thing. I don't think it's fair to lay all the blame for the current state of the T on his shoulders, of course. But surely he could have done better than this!

Aaron said...

A little late, but just found this blog..
Did you try this one? Simple google search reaveled this email: