Wednesday, April 23, 2008

System in Crisis

Over the past three or four weeks, the Franklin #715 train is experiencing an unprecedented state of collapse. Ridership has increased enormously; every seat is full to capacity, the aisles are packed solid, and even the vestibules - which are supposed to be off-limits for passengers - are full of riders.

Yesterday there were 14 people riding in the vestibule that I was in. I was in the spot exactly between two cars; that spot is probably the most dangerous on the train, because it's the intersection between the two coaches. You can easily get your hand or foot caught and crushed by tons of moving metal!

Fares haven't been collected on the #715 for weeks. Passengers are openly talking about giving up their passes and buying 12-ride tickets instead, because you can easily get a month or two of rides from one; the conductors simply can't check tickets.

A couple of days ago I was jammed into the middle of an aisle, which is probably the second-worst place to stand on the train. Standing next to me was a pregnant woman; she had to be at least six months along. Nobody offered her a seat. When the time came for her to get off, she literally had to squeeze past me and through the rest of the crowd!

I've heard that ridership is up to a similar degree across the system. That's probably because of the skyrocketing price of gas. If so, I don't think the overcrowding problem is going away - ever.

It also occurs to me that during a recent train accident, the people who were standing were the ones who got injured. At at least 30 standees inside each coach, plus 12 or more standees in each vestibule (not counting the conductors), I count 190 standees who are being endangered by the willful blindness of MBCR and MBTA management to the safety hazard that's happening on their watch.

Governor Patrick is equally culpable, as is the Legislature.

Operating a train under these conditions must violate safety regulations. What agency is responsible for enforcing the law in the case? OSHA, perhaps?

The conductors are clearly miserable, incidentally. But it's obvious that there isn't a thing they can do. The passengers I've heard bitching about the situation have all made it very clear to any conductors in earshot that we do not blame them.


Ms Bart said...

My train has been packed for weeks as well. We used to have a five car train with four double deckers and now all we are getting are single cars.

Plenty of people have whined to the conductors on my line. Part of me would love to speak up and say to the whiner, 'Well, the conductor could have stopped your from boarding the train to prevent overcrowding.'

Are all the double deckers in for servicing? Or are they all being run on the Greenbush line?

Quasit said...

The Franklin #715 almost never gets double-deckers - it happens once in a blue moon. Normally we get six single-level coaches, but lately management seems to have reduced that number to five.

I've heard that the T is claiming that the fleet is short on cars because of that accident a few months ago. That may be. But given that several trains go through Ruggles shortly before the Franklin #715, and all of those trains seem to have far less crowding than the Franklin line...well, I have to believe that the T isn't allocating their resources intelligently.

Maybe if T management and the Legislature had to ride the T every day to and from know, that's a damned good idea! There should be some sort of citizen initiative to require them to take the T! Taxpayers certainly shouldn't have to foot the bill to have them chauffeured around.

If they ARE chauffeured around, that is. But I'm reasonably sure that virtually none of them ride the T.

Anonymous said...

Try riding the green line especially the D part. Quiet often in the morning you can't even board the T and it goes right past my stop. Many times I have had to ride in the stairwell with even the T personnel standing behind me on the outside making sure the doors close. The idea of standing in the crumple zone makes me ponder whether I want to do that anymore but especially during Red Sox season you don't have much of a choice.

On another note, some of us have difficulty standing but don't want to make a scene or have to ask someone to give up a seat that is clearly labeled for handicapped/ elderly. Since to most people I don't appear to have a problem standing, I have to make the assumption that the person sitting has a non-apparent reason for sitting. Often it seems I can get a seat when I onl have one stop to go. Then there are the people who are forced to stand in the vestibules and then block the railings I need to use to get safely down the steps. I am waiting for the embarassing day that I fall. I haven't complained to the MBTA and haven't felt right complaining recently due to the horrific accident but had that accident happened near the middle of the T's run and at rush hour I am sure more people would have been injured. As it is I think people were very lucky that what could have been a major tragedy resulted in 1 death and not so many more.