Thursday, October 15, 2009

Strange morning, courtesy of the MBCR

Strange things were happening on the #708 train out of Franklin this morning. It was a double train, with an engine in the middle; I heard that the prior train had broken down, and was being pushed along.

I also saw my first "wrapped" coach, a double that had been turned into a huge advertisement for some bank. Here's a photo:

On the train, a woman had a large brown dog sitting on the seat next to her. It was some sort of hound, and was letting out a near-continuous high-pitched whine. I didn't see anything to indicate that it was a service dog. I couldn't tell if a ticket had been purchased for it, although it was using a full seat and it was VERY crowded on the train that morning. People were jammed in the aisles.

The train was due in at Ruggles at 7:50 AM, but didn't arrive until 8:24. So accordingly I put in for the on-time guarantee. I guess that will make up for the $8.75 I was charged for forgetting to change my pass on the 1st!

The stairway at Ruggles continues to deteriorate. Intriguing deep holes are opening up in the sides of it:

A week ago I saw that the afternoon Providence train (stopping at Ruggles on the outbound trip at roughly 3:56 PM) was incredibly crowded. People were jammed into the vestibule areas, between coaches - the areas with signs that say "PASSENGERS ARE NOT PERMITTED TO RIDE IN THE VESTIBULE". I counted at least ten people in one vestibule, and more than that in two others.

I also had an interesting ride home last week; when I got on the coach, it was pitch black inside. I mean really black; the only light came from a laptop that some guy was using down at the other end of the coach.

It was eerie! The power came back after about fifteen minutes, though.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mysterious Thing

It's boring, waiting for the train at Ruggles in the evening, so once again I was looking at the stairs. The disintegration continues, but today I saw something new:

What IS that thing? It looks like a heavy cable, almost like a motorcycle lock, clamped around the base of the stair railing - and the other end goes into the concrete. Where the insulation doesn't cover it, it's clearly a multiple-wire cable. It can't be electrical. It doesn't look as if it has any structural purpose - how could it be holding anything in place? It's not tightly attached! Why does it go into the cement? Does anyone know?

There's another cable just like it on the other side of the stairs, by the way.

You might have noticed that there are bricks missing at the left-hand bottom side of the base of the stairs now. Here's a better shot:

Could the cable be some sort of temporary thing, like a clamp to hold things in place? It really doesn't look like it to me.

Rude conductor

It's been a long time since I ran across a rude conductor; I guess I was due. Here's the complaint that I just filed with the MBCR:
Conductor 1719 was extremely rude to me this evening. I'd forgotten to switch to my October pass, and so she charged me for the trip, plus the onboard purchase penalty fee. I recognize that she was within her rights to do so, although she certainly knew that I was a regular T pass subscriber; I have been riding in her coaches since long before she began working on #715.

What was NOT appropriate, however, was the delight which she displayed in charging me. She smirked and spoke in a very condescending manner. I don't know why she apparently felt that my forgetfulness was her personal victory; I haven't had any personal interaction with her before.

In any case, I found her conduct completely offensive and rude. That sort of arrogant and insulting behavior does nothing to enhance the reputation or image of the MBTA and MBCR.
It was the equivalent of a victory dance - just a nasty, sneering smirk. Apparently charging me $8.75 was the high point of her day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crumbling stairs

Last December I wrote about the crumbling stairs to the commuter rail platform at Ruggles.

Here's what they look like today, Thursday July 30th. Click on the photos to enlarge them:

As you can see, the stairs are falling apart. And here's a view of the wall on the other side of the stairs; the damage isn't as obvious, but if you take a close look, I think you'll see signs that the wall is starting to bulge outwards...

That can't be good!

Overpowering Stench

Coach #709 on the 708 Franklin train this morning (departing Forge Park/495 at 7AM on 7/29/2009) was filled with what I can only describe as an overpowering odor of ripe sewage.

This isn't the first time I've run across this phenomenon. Coach 724 (or it may have been 742) earlier this week had the same smell. And it has happened at other times, too. I don't think they've usually been bathroom coaches, and it's definitely not a passenger having gas; the whole coach was filled with the smell, on both levels. The adjoining coaches were totally free of the smell.

Needless to say, #709 didn't have a lot of people in it. The adjoining coaches were much more crowded than usual!

Update: Coach #720 on the 708 Franklin train also had that incredible stench this morning, 7/31/2009. I checked, and it wasn't a bathroom coach. The smell was horrific. There weren't that many passengers in it, but I have to wonder about the few who were! Can't they smell?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Survey

The MBTA has been handing out a survey on the commuter rail this week. You can fill it out online, if you feel like taking it. NOTE: You must have a unique survey number (printed on the upper right-hand corner of the first page) in order to submit the survey. So if you don't have a hard copy, I'm afraid you're out of luck.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Late Morning

The Franklin line was particularly bad this morning; the #706 inbound train was cancelled, and the #708 train arrived at Ruggles at 8:52, over a full hour late. That's the third time so far this year that I've had the chance to file an On-Time Guarantee claim.

Every time it happens I find people on the train who didn't know about the guarantee, and didn't know that they could cash those tickets in. I should make up cards with instructions and pass them out whenever there's a 30+ minute delay.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Trouble With A Capital T

Things haven't changed much on the Franklin commuter line.

There've been some late trains, and I've collected a few free tickets. The stairs at the Ruggles station are still crumbling. In the last couple of months there have been several times on the outbound #717 train (departing South Station at 4:20 PM) when no doors were opened on either side of two adjacent cars; twice I saw passengers who weren't able to get off the train at their stops, and ended up being carried along to the next station unwillingly. I tried to help one of them by opening the door and stairs myself, but by the time I'd noticed her plight and gotten the door open, the train was already in motion. There was, of course, no conductor around.

Today was pretty special, though. The morning #708 train was going very slowly. There were a couple of announcements; the #704 was disabled, and the #706 was joining up with it to push it out of the way. We were supposed to arrive at Ruggles at 7:50 AM, but we got there at 8:25 instead.

When we got there, people lined up to get out. But the lines didn't move in my coach. The doors were shut, and the passengers who were trying to open the doors...couldn't. They said they were stuck. I was far back in the line myself, or I would have given it a try. Needless to say, there was no conductor in sight.

We all turned around and started rushing down the coach to the next set of doors. But we hadn't reached them before we all realized that the train was moving, picking up speed. There was a univeral groan.

Fortunately someone reached a conductor, and the train finally stopped. We were well down the long Ruggles platform by then; all but two coaches were past the barrier that blocks off the crumbling, unused half of the platform (I'll get a photo of that soon, if I can - update: got it). We stepped out onto a continuous sheet of thick ice. Since it was an off-limits area, it had never been salted or sanded. We had to squeeze carefully around the wooden barrier, with no more than a few feet of clearance between the barrier and the train. It was a tight fit for some! And it may have been worse for the people on the other side, since if they slipped they wouldn't have the train as a backstop - they'd have ended up falling straight down onto the tracks. Luckily, no one slipped.

Here's a shot that I took of the closed platform that afternoon. It had been a relatively warm day, and the sun had melted some of the ice since that morning. But even so, there was a lot left! By the way, that half of the platform has been closed for as long as I can remember - years, at least. It's crumbling badly.
It could have been worse, of course - we could have been forced to get off at Back Bay instead, and been even more late. As it was, I got into work 40 minutes late. I later heard that people on the #704 train had had a two-hour delay!

P.S. - I've been told a great story that I hope to be able to post soon. The T apparently mailed out some duplicate letters and tickets for their On-Time Guarantee, and they're handling the issue remarkably poorly - even for the T. One suggestion: check your O-TG letters for duplicate numbers. If you find some, don't try to cash in duplicates at the same time. More on this later, I hope!