Things must be getting better with Charlie as Mac Daniel’s Sunday column in the Globe has no mention of CharlieCards or CharlieTickets this week.
But he does talk about the infamous information signs on the Commuter Rail and the T is about to revamp the system…..again
Some of the signs can handle 99 characters; others on the same rail line can handle 1,600 characters. Should a dispatcher enter more than 99 characters on a rail line that also has signs that can handle 1,600 the signs go blank or begin issuing garbled blips and bloops.
Then there’s the chain of command. Dispatchers at South Station send messages for display on the signs to an MBTA router at High Street, which sends them to a phone line, which transmits them to individual computers at each station. That process involves three computers and along that line, there’s a lot that can go wrong.
There have also been software crashes galore on the system. When the vendor recently performed an upgrade, the problems got worse.
Once again, the system is headed for an upgrade, T officials said last week.
The T has recently received proposals for a new satellite-based sign system that is hoped to streamline the process.
“It’s going to be a straight communication line” from the dispatcher to the station, said Stephen Jones, the T’s deputy director of railroad operations.
A contractor could be selected by the end of the month, he said.
In addition, and don’t hold your breath, Jones said there’s the potential to do arrival countdowns routinely , meaning the signs could tell passengers how far away the next train is from the station.
Sounds like the same system we talked about last week