Charlie’s Mailbag – February 22nd

trying to catch up with the mail at charlieonthembta@gmail.com

we will start off with Jeff who has some observations

Hi,
I love your site, http://charlieonthembta.blogspot.com/ and I first saw stuff about it in the Metro newspaper!

As someone who lives in the North Shore but works in the Hancock Tower near Back Bay, I find it horribly long and arduous just to get to work in the morning. I don’t really have a problem with time itself, but somehow that extra work involved with taking the train and then the T just gets to me in a special way that only Boston’s daily grind can. We all sort of accept the suffering much in the same way we used to just KNOW the Red Sox could never win the World Series!

Well, they did it, and they could do it again (unless of course, we allow our “collective” but sometimes “downer” ‘consciousness’ overpower the vibe!) and now I think the T has a chance to power through all that crap as well!

What this city needs for me is this:

Thing One:

Connect the North Station to Back Bay and South Station with a 3 way Mono Rail or something–dedicated to ONLY service those 3 stops frequently and with haste! Something designed for both the in city traveler and daily commuter, as well as the out of towner who flies into Logan (oh that’s another story of horror–don’t get me started, but do start a blog) and has no freakin’ idea WHICH station to go to! (My in-laws from Europe recently surprised us with a short visit only to get hung up with T’s trains and which station served our little town in to the north.

Thing two:

PLEASE increase the length of a line to the north and stop making it so commuter rail trains don’t always go to all the little towns right around rush hour when you need them most! I have to run to a train that i always miss when leaving work, and if I miss it, the next one is over an hour later, getting my home way past all life has to offer with family! (roll eyes icon inserted here)

Thing Three?

Connect the Green and Orange lines TO the inside of North Station, not cramming everyone up a couple sets of stairs and doorways that, since they were newly built, probably means this will never happen. But seriously, that station needs better access and MORE BATHROOMS TOO!

Well, that’s my rant for now. See? I didn’t even talk about those way too high ticket prices, non-healthy & dirty trains that give me the flu or colds after multiple uses, and how crammed up the Orange line is in the morning–every morning. Hope some of it gets posted somewhere… People can send me resumes in the meantime
JEFF

Jeff when the designers of the downtown transit system put everything together 100 years ago there WAS train service between North and South Station. There was an elevated line that ran along Atlantic Avenue.

The Atlantic Avenue Elevated was an elevated railway around the east side of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, providing a second route for the Boston Elevated Railway’s Main Line (now the Orange Line) around the Washington Street Tunnel. It was in use from 1901 to 1938, and was demolished due to low ridership.

The line was doomed by a couple of factors. In 1919, the Boston molasses disaster resulted in damage to the El in the area north of Battery Street and because Boston was in an economic slump BEFORE the depression ridership was low to begin with.

Certainly when the Big Dig was designed there SHOULD have been a provision for a rail tunnel between North and South Station but like so many things in Boston it fell between the cracks. Right now I would be happy if there was regular bus service between the 2 points.

As far as why the Green, Orange and Commuter Rail stations are not connected as of yet the blame goes to Delaware North the owner of the Garden who is responsible for the commuter rail station. When the new superstation was designed Delaware North could not tell the T for certain where the train station would wind up. It appears they are doing something now to improve access between the 2 stations.

Ines wonders what happened Tuesday night at Harvard Station

Hi,

I (and about 100 other passenger) witnessed an accident on the red line last Tuesday. A man slipped or fell on the tracks and the first car of the train ran over him. The driver stopped immidiately, jumped out, ran along the wall and looked under the train. He saw the man and called the ambulance. The man somehow got up and walked along the tracks towards the first car. One of the people waiting was asked to jump over the third rail to prevent him from falling on it. The man was covered in blood, still holding onto his book. The ambulance, fire brigade and police rushed in from all directions.

I was really shocked and couldn’t sleep that night due to the pictures in my head of the man crawling up from under the train and tried to find information about it that same evening, the next morning and today. There is nothing to find so far. I looked it up on Boston.com, the News/Events section on MBTA.com, I even called the customer service yesterday – the woman laughed about me. I am wondering if this is right to keep information from the public and why the MBTA doesn’t give any news to the public. I believe that an accident like this can happen to anyone – the man didn’t look as if he jumped (the outbound train is extremely slow when it comes into Harvard Square from Central Square) – it looked as if he slipped from the plattform.

Maybe there were more reports on this?

The only reports I am aware of were posted on UniversalHub.com and at railroad.net

Conscious Male Patient with Multi Trauma Removed from the pit by Cambrdge Fire, Professional Ambulance ALS to Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center with members of Cambrdge Fire Squad 4 on Board

It appears that it was a suicide attempt.
Compare that to this story on the CTA Tattler blog from Chicago

May he rest in peace eternally
Anytime I write about awful odors on the CTA, I get emails and comments from readers who want to share their foul stories. This one takes the cake for being among the saddest and most disturbing:
I once got on the Red Line with a friend and we were immediately assaulted by the most foul, rank odor I’ve ever smelled in my life. Everyone on the train had their shirts over their noses and looked like they were going to be sick. We tried to move to the other side of the train but the smell was just as strong.
At the next stop (Grand, I believe), the doors opened and a couple of cops entered our car, carrying a body bag. They walked straight to the Hobo Corner and left a few minutes later, having filled the bag.
Later that night, while watching the news, I discovered that a hobo had died in the Hobo Corner. It was a little disturbing and very ironic.

Miriam wonders about the old exit gates at Braintree

When the new Charlie system was installed last summer, the T put two rows of new fare gates in the Braintree station: one row of gates to enter, and one to exit. Up until January 1, there was still an exit fare at Braintree and Quincy Adams. Now that the exit fare has been eliminated, the exit gates are sitting idle. Moreover, it seems the T intends to put a fence in front of them, rendering them useless. The T knew that the exit fare was ending January 1–why not simply reprogram those very expensive gates so that they can be used to enter and exit, just like the ones on the other side of the station? This seems to me another example of the poor planning and financial carelessness the T exhibits on a regular basis. It took many months, and many millions of dollars, to install all those new gates. Now they’re just going to mothball an entire row of gates in a very busy station simply because the exit fare no longer exists. It is certainly possible to put those gates into use–why not do it?

Given that the new fare system has been in place for almost 2 months I don’t have a clue what they are going to do at both Braintree and Quincy Adams and from the looks of things the T doesn’t have a clue either. However you ask a great question? Why did the T put in Charlie EXIT gates at those stations knowing that in a few months they would be useless??? Seems to me maybe those should have been the last stations converted to Charlie, not Fields Corner or Government Center.

Coco does a good dead at Harvard Square

Today I got off the T at Harvard Square, and as usual exited via the Church Street exit. As I passed through the turnstile, I saw an older woman with a German/Slavic accent arguing with a T employee. It didn’t take much to get the gist of the dispute; she’d used a CharlieTicket to get in, then realised she’d forgotten something and went out to get it, and when she tried to go back in with the same ticket, it wouldn’t let her because it was the same station she’d just entered. She was very agitated, and to be fair, the T employee was being kind of a jerk about it. “Hey, not my problem – you went out. You can buy another ticket, or, you can wait 20 minutes…” I mean, all he had to do was let her back in; she had a ticket, and she was so upset I doubt she was lying.

Finally, I broke in. “Excuse me, Ma’am? Here.” I turned and used my CharlieCard – fortified with a Monthly Pass and valid for Harvard since I hadn’t entered there – to open the gate. “There you are; go ahead.” She went through in a flash, and with barely a glance to the T employee, I turned and disappeared into the crowd heading up the stairs.

So, not only a good deed done, but a chance to show the T employees what sympathy and kindness actually looks like in action.

I’ll just add that the rudest CSA’s I have come across on the system just happens to be at Church St as well. It was a pleasure watching the Washington CSA’s yesterday. They know what the job entails.

Ben passes on the info that Google Maps now has Boston ( and other major cities) subway stations marked.

I love that Google Maps now shows T stops, that is so handy. Odd
though that the T stops are indicated with a blue ‘M’ – New York’s
hegemony I guess. Also odd, the silver line stops aren’t shown.

Here’s a screenshot I took

I am in Chicago writing this and I am at an internet cafe right under the M at Thorndale Station
Google Maps Chicago example

Brian wonders why Mass Ave in the Back Bay was so tied up on Wednesday

Got off at Mass Avenue on the Orange Line at around 7:50am. Notice that Mass Ave traffic is moving at a crawl from Boston City Hospital to my stop, along with several tractor trailer trucks dragging along what seems to be either large AC units or temporary houses. Waited a couple of minutes, and two Route 1 buses come. First one (2143?) is crowded, but not to the famous sardine-like consistency other buses have. Second bus (2268?) I figure I’d get on, since it is quite empty. Wouldn’t you know it…the empty bus pulls away, and following it is the fuller bus.

Waited another six or seven minutes for a CT1. Got on bus (fine), traffic was still at a major crawl – not just to the Mass Ave bridge at Beacon Street, but through MIT and University Park, too. The only time we clear traffic is right at Central Square. (When I usually get there at around 7:30am, there’s hardly a car there, the buses show up on time, and it’s excellent, as you avoid all of downtown and the Charles Street, and there are very few if any Boston School buses. I can get to Central Square in 15 minutes and Harvard in 20.)

Cambridge and Boston residents use Mass Ave as a shortcut to I-93 to Quincy and the South Shore, as do tractor-trailer trucks and heavy vehicles, but if there was ever a place where congestion pricing (unpopular as it is) would work like magic, Mass Ave would be a prime candidate, and just the thought of forking over $2-$5 for a shortcut would cause the I-93 shortcut drivers to seek an alternate route, and let the buses and other drivers through. I know when I-93 is backed up when it takes 30 minutes to go from Hynes Convention Center to Mass Ave Station!

Brian that has always been one of the touchiest areas of Boston traffic and when it backs up it seems like the entire grid is affected. It has been like that as long as I have lived in Boston and was one of the reasons they wanted to build the so called “Inner Belt” in the 1960’s connecting Roxbury with Sullivan Sq through Cambridge and Somerville. Since it doesn’t get like that daily I think we should count our blessings that the “Inner Belt” was never built as it would have destroyed much of the city we love.

Have a good commute everyone

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1 Comment

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One response to “Charlie’s Mailbag – February 22nd

  1. Anonymous

    Miriam wonders about the old exit gates at Braintree When the new Charlie system was installed last summer, the T put two rows of new fare gates in the Braintree station: one row of gates to enter, and one to exit. Up until January 1, there was still an exit fare at Braintree and Quincy Adams. Now that the exit fare has been eliminated, the exit gates are sitting idle. Moreover, it seems the T intends to put a fence in front of them, rendering them useless. The T knew that the exit fare was ending January 1–why not simply reprogram those very expensive gates so that they can be used to enter and exit, just like the ones on the other side of the station? This seems to me another example of the poor planning and financial carelessness the T exhibits on a regular basis. It took many months, and many millions of dollars, to install all those new gates. Now they’re just going to mothball an entire row of gates in a very busy station simply because the exit fare no longer exists. It is certainly possible to put those gates into use–why not do it? Given that the new fare system has been in place for almost 2 months I don’t have a clue what they are going to do at both Braintree and Quincy Adams and from the looks of things the T doesn’t have a clue either. However you ask a great question? Why did the T put in Charlie EXIT gates at those stations knowing that in a few months they would be useless??? Seems to me maybe those should have been the last stations converted to Charlie, not Fields Corner or Government Center.I love the signs now plastered to the above referenced idle exit gates that say ‘Don’t take parts’. Equally interesting is the fact that one of the spankin’ new Charlie dispensers INSIDE the gates has already vanished!

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