Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cold-Weather Tested

The commute today actually took longer than yesterday's by about a minute. That pretty much sums up all the conjecturing being done over the past 24 hours about the MBTA taking strides to not have this morning's commute be a repeat of yesterday morning's commute. To be more specific, an approximately 22-minute commute took 33 minutes yesterday, and you can do the math to figure out today's time. No, not extremely bad, save for the fact that, for the second day in a row I missed my connection to an employee shuttle resulting in a 1 1/4-mile walk from the station platform to my work desk.

If there's any solace, it's knowing that the train I narrowly missed due to my own "traffic ahead" while walking briskly to Stony Brook Station would not have gotten me to Sullivan Square Station in time to catch the last employee shuttle. That train couldn't possibly have made it, given the fact that, although it left four minutes ahead of the one that I caught, was apparently so swamped that our train caught up by Ruggles and it was stop-and-go all the way to North Station--due to "traffic ahead." Of course, one would argue that, especially due to the current issues being experienced, I should hardly try to chance things so close--I readily admit that. But, let's be real--there are things to get done, like gathering and setting out recycling to the curb on trash day, and I give myself what I call a comfortable margin of time in which to get to work.

Speaking of my busy-ness, I've certainly missed a lot of MBTA milestones and newsworthy events over the past year, most notably the appointment of Richard Davey as one of the youngest (if not the youngest) General Managers the T has ever had. From day one he has talked, and taken, a more proactive approach to improving transit services. A self-proclaimed longtime rider of the T, he easily won brownie points by most critics, including myself, as a stark contrast to former GM Dan Grabauskas who commuted from the North Shore in his company-issued SUV hybrid every day. To Davey, I say "Congratulations!" and "Good Luck!"--you're gonna need it.

After all, it's days like these that truly test the capabilities of the largest public transit system in New England, days when people are a little less forgiving when they're late for work or school for a second day in a row due to the exact same issues. I hardly fault Davey for personally making apologies and promising to improve services; people just wanted to see improvements--and they didn't see them.

Really, I feel most sorry for what I call the "North Side Riders"--those who live at any of the stops between North Station and Oak Grove. These riders have had to endure Summer after Summer of weekend busing due to track and signal "improvements." While many of the problems over the past 24 hours have certainly been the fault of the aging trains themselves, any announcement about "switching problems at Wellington" or other issues up the line has to be absolutely grating to their ears and an unfortunate foreshadowing of the work that apparently will need to continued at the opposite end of the year when it's sunny and 85F and they're once again packed into buses flying down Route 99.

For the rest of us, we take it in stride, calling into work if we have to and letting the bosses know it's "gonna be another one of those days." The traffic reports this morning listed numerous problems on the Commuter Rail and Red, Green and Blue Lines; I had my fingers crossed that the Orange Line was spared. Next time I'll cross my toes too. My biggest letdown for the whole day: rushing out the door and not bringing my trusty pedometer to log the steps and calories from all the cardio.


-TM


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