Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An Unexpected Turn of Events (Problem Solved?)

The vestibules had been packed for weeks. So on Friday I brought my digital camera; it was time to get video proving that people were being forced to ride in the vestibules and being packed in the aisle, a massive safety hazard for hundreds of paying passengers every day.

I don't believe in fate. But I have to admit that it's pretty ironic that on Friday, for the first time in quite a while, the Franklin #715 train wasn't just five single-level coaches; it was several double-level coaches, as well as at least one or two single-level ones.

There were still quite a few standees, but no one had to ride in the vestibules that I saw. And the aisle were relatively uncrowded. So I had nothing to photograph.

On Monday, same story. Double-level coaches, and adequate seating capacity. I'd brought my camera, but had no call to use it.

On Tuesday afternoon, I received an email from the MBCR. It said, in part:
I have spoken with the manager responsible for train consists and understand that your train has finally been returned to its proper number of coaches.
This confused me a bit; "proper" number of coaches? "Returned"? I've been riding the #715 for years now, and it has never had double-level coaches on a regular basis before! We had them perhaps three times a year, on average, and it always meant that the regular train had broken down.

Being perplexed, I wrote back:
Thank you. I am a bit confused by your response, however.

For the several days leading up to Thursday, April 24, the #715 consisted of five single-level coaches - one less than usual. On Friday the 25th and Monday the 28th the #715 included at least three double-level coaches, as well as at least two single-level ones (if memory serves). Is this the new status quo? We have not seen this many coaches on the #715 on a regular basis for the past three years at least.

There are still many people who have to stand, even with the double-level coaches - but at least we don't have to ride in the vestibule. At this point, however, many of the regular riders on the #715 don't know what to expect. Will the expanded seat capacity which has been provided over the past two weekdays continue?
I haven't received a response yet, but when the #715 pulled into Ruggles this afternoon, it consisted of four double-level coaches and one single-level one. And to my utter amazement, I got a seat - not at Norwood Central, nor even at Dedham/128, but at Ruggles itself! Some people were still standing, and I expect that I'll still have to stand more often than not - at least for part of the trip - but at least we won't have to ride in the "crumple zones".

Or so I hope. Of course, it could all change back again at any time, I suppose. And I can't help but wonder what other train or trains lost the double-sided coaches that have been put on the #715 run. But for now, it seems, the Franklin #715 train is no longer a large-scale accident waiting to happen.

Don't think for a minute that I plan to retire this blog or anything like that, though! I'm hopeful about the new added capacity, but after 20-odd years of dealing with the MBTA I'm sure that there will be new things to write about. Still, it's nice to see that the T finally did respond and fix
the problem. And it may be hubris on my part, but I'd like to think I might have played a small part in getting them to take action.

I never heard back from the Globe or the Herald, incidentally. And from what a friend has told me, they probably never will get back to me. My next step would have been to contact the Metro, the Boston Phoenix, and the Weekly Dig. Instead, I can relax and deal with other issues.

Oh, one more thing: it doesn't seem likely that the Franklin #715 train was the only one having problems. And I'm sure there will be hot cars aplenty, as well as lots of other problems; the sad truth is that the commuter rail system is under considerable strain, and will be for some time to come. So please, if you hear or see anything of interest, post a comment here - or email me.

Ride safe!

1 comment:

Michael A. Burris said...

I'm very impressed by your blog. I ride the Commuter Rail as well, but on the North Side. (Fitchburg)