— Jamie Eldridge (@JamieEldridgeMA) April 7, 2017
I write this every month … Commuter rail has been simply a disaster this month:
Keolis Commuter Services operated the required number of locomotives for regular service during only four of 23 weekdays in March, a troubling statistic behind some of the many cancellations and delays that have recently plagued their lines.
…Cancellations have become particularly noticable in recent days, as several commuter rail trains were cancelled for the second day in a row, sending commuters scrambling for alternatives. Trains were cancelled on the Stoughton, Lowell, and Newburyport/Rockport line on Thursday.
And there are always technical excuses: It’s the trains, or repair equipment or some dog-ate-my-homework that the public should simply never have to hear about. If you run a train line, it’s your job to have processes to deal with things like that.
And as I’ve said before, it’s not merely Keolis, the T, and the Baker administration’s failure. One may remember — one could be forgiven for forgetting — that we have a state auditor. An auditor that touted finding $1.8 million in uncollected fares back in November, but doesn’t seem particularly interested in the core mission of getting people to work, or in the billion+ in cost overruns on the Green Line. To state the wildly obvious, the state desperately needs contracting reform with regard to T’s infrastructure.
What is Suzanne Bump doing? Does her office lack the personnel, the expertise, or the interest?
Meanwhile the Baker administration is promising nothing other than a continuation of the T’s death spiral: More cuts in weekend service. The marketing strategy is quite amazing: Trains don’t run often enough to be convenient, so you don’t get as many riders as you might, and then you cut service because nobody’s using it.
Meredith Sterling’s entire work schedule hinges on the Worcester/Framingham commuter rail line.
On weekends, when the earliest train doesn’t leave Worcester until 7 a.m., she starts her shift at a Dunkin’ Donuts near the Framingham stop later than usual. During snowstorms, she leaves early to catch the last train, sacrificing a few hours of pay to avoid being stranded.
Without weekend train service, Sterling, 26, would probably look for another job. The cost of Uber or taxi rides would eat up too much of her paycheck.
So when Sterling learned that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was considering cutting back service on the weekends — or eliminating it altogether — her eyes widened with alarm.
No kidding. [The Globe’s Nicole Dungca has done excellent reporting on this, with tenacity and compassion. Don’t let up!)
It would be one thing if we actually had prospects for a better future for the T. We could have contracting reform, accountability, a rider-centered customer service attitude — and funding from Bob DeLeo and the legislature.
This isn’t a recovery plan for the T. It’s hospice care.