Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bring Me the Head of an Orange Line Dispatcher!

My day actually starts with the 111 bus this morning and my third experience with the new gargantuan fareboxes that have now cropped up on North Shore inner-suburb (Somerville, Chelsea, Revere, Everett, etc.) routes. I put my card in the right slot (as opposed to the dollar bill slot which I almost did the other day, not my fault) and it kept trying to take it, but at the same time deciding that it didn't want to. After about 10 seconds, as the operator was winding the bus up Chelsea's 4th Street onramp onto US 1 South/Tobin Bridge, he just politely said "don't worry about it." Our practially empty bus (15 seats to spare!) got passed just before the Charlestown Bridge by a very full 111 bus, and then we got stuck behind it at the stupid stop just before Haymarket, but we still made it to Haymarket a whole two minutes sooner than normal--which, if you've ever driven a bus, is significant.
But then there's the Orange Line. The Orange Line that comes promptly enough for Oak Grove and had myself and every other Community College and Sullivan Square-bound person who got on at Haymarket and had just settled in get off at North Station because the train then decided to go express to Wellington. Express--really--were we that far behind? But, whatever, you can't argue with the conductor--that just holds up the train even more. So, fine, most of us bound for Community College and Sullivan Square get off (save for the poor saps who actually think it's faster to go express to Wellington and then backtrack on a "local"), and it's about 7:15 so I figured, well, hopefully, if the next train was really on our heels then I'd still make it to Sullivan Square by 7:20 and make my employee shuttle connection. And sure enough it did come less than 45 seconds later... and sat for 30 seconds at North Station. And guess what--I missed my connection by a little less than 30 seconds. Because apparently sending the first train express was not enough to separate it from the next train--the next train had to wait even longer "for scheduling reasons," although the conductor simply said that we'd be waiting. So here's my rant to whatever dumb dispatcher made this call, because this has happened before: if one train goes "express" then that's more than enough to separate trains. Don't further insult everybody's intelligence and infuriate them, causing them to miss bus, commuter rail, and other subway connections because you want to hold up the next train to further space them apart. Convince me that the next train is actually running "early," warranting a delay. No, I wasn't late, because I'm coming in a half hour early anyway--I simply caught the 7:30 connecting van ride. But it's a matter of principle. Honestly, I don't think that first train was so far behind that it couldn't have made up the time by the time it's turnaround time came at Oak Grove. I mean, ok, maybe the operator and conductor get a little less of a coffee and bathroom break, but oh well--join the club. Ask me how I loved doing UMass Transit's Smith/Hampshire/MHC full loop (Route 39) and barely get 3-5 minutes on either end! And that was if everything went ok...

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