…This winter weather making the need very obvious.
Alot of folks might find it hard to believe but the MBTA works round the clock well after the T shuts down at 12:35AM. Outside the Winter, that 5-hour reprieve is spent putting the bulk of our tax dollars to work cleaning tracks, platforms, cars, buses and tunnels. The lion’s share of the T’s budget is spent on simply keeping the aging infrastructure running. During the winter, there’s an increased emphasis on snow removal to keep the trains and buses running.
Alot of comparisons have been made with the Blizzard of 2015–more recently renamed Snowmageddon–and the Blizzard of ’78. There’s alot of key differences between then and now which I will talk about in a separate blog. One thing that is almost unchanged are the vehicles and equipment used by the MBTA. The Orange Line cars are the same and many of the Red and Green Lines cars are, too. The Blue Line’s fleet of cars were completely replaced almost 10 years ago mostly due to the Big Dig so…yeah.
The decision to open the MBTA during incliment weather–for example back to back blizzards–is just not going to end well. As thousands have experienced going on 3 weeks now. The Red and Orange lines both have a unique issue that will likely be revisited in July. The cars used by both lines require the Third Rail to power the trains. Both also have stations outside for most of their stops. Bet ya didn’t know that one! The Green and Blue lines draw power from overhead electrical cables so they have one less problem to deal with (snow and ice).
The Commuter Rail isn’t doing much better even though most of ’em are Diesel-powered. I took the Commuter Rail from South Station last Friday to bypass taking the #32 Bus from Forest Hills to Cleary Square. I ended up taking a different train than the one I normally would due to earlier trains getting cancelled. The train was VERY crowded and since it was making additional stops, it was even more crowded than usual when I finally got off at Hyde Park.
The weather doesn’t deserve the blame in this case. You see, only 8 trains a weekday stop at the Hyde Park Commuter Rail station from 2 separate lines. It’s poorly made scheduling: The stop right before Hyde Park is Forest Hills but neither of the lines that stop at Hyde Park stop there. Likewise, the lines that stop at Forest Hills do not stop at Hyde Park. Makes absolutely no sense. Unlike the Rapid Transit Lines (Red, Orange, Green and Blue Lines) the Commuter Rail is a high-speed and travel time is WAY faster in comparison.
The situation in Roslindale and Hyde Park in regards to the T is pretty bad. Most bus stops remain unshoveled or poorly shovel from rhe first round. I have seen buses drive past bus stops with waiting commuters. The demand for increased service to Hyde Park and Roslindale is certainly there. The #32 is one of the bus lines identified as meeting the criteria to get larger buses. To my knowledge, only the #39 (Forest Hills-Back Bay) and the #28 (Ruggles-Mattapan Square) have the larger buses and increased services. That needs to change.