Monday, September 26, 2011

MBTA fare increase may happen sooner than you think

It has been about five years since the MBTA has implimented any type of fair increase. The T is also the only transit agency in the United States that has not increased fares since 2007. This could very soon be a thing of the past for Boston area commuters though.

Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation and former MBTA GM Richard Davey announced last week that a "Modest" fare increase is definitely on the table. This comes after an independent advisory committee explained to MassDOT and the MBTA that they will need over $15 Billion to keep the infrastructure safe and operable.
Newton Center Station (For Sale)

Currently the MBTA's day to day operating costs exceed the money they are taking in from their ridership and adverting. The cash strapped organization is also facing a $161 Million shortfall next fiscal year. The T is taking every measure to try and close that gab but a fair increase seems imminent. The T has tried everything, from selling ad space all over the system and their website, to implementing renewable energies, to selling MBTA merchandise and even their properties. At present, the T just put the Newton Center MBTA station, which is located on the Riverside Branch of the Green line, up for sale. The 120 year old building, which is home to a restaurant, is being sold for a minimum of $700,000. According to Acting MBTA GM Jonathan Davis when sold the money received will be reinvested back into the system to try and put a small dent in the organizations $8 billion debt and $4.8 Billion maintenance backlog.

MBTA employees and retirees may also be unhappy with the way the T is trying to find ways to fill its budget gab. Currently on the table is taking away the MBTA retirees free rides for life pass. Negotiations with the MBTA workers union are also currently underway to try and eliminate the current employee free rides for personal use program. Last year the MBTA lost about $4.5 million in revenue because of the free rides of MBTA workers and retirees. This is going to be a tricky process for the T though. The workers union is not going to give up without a fight.

Overall, its hard to say that a fare increase is not going to happen sometime within the next year. This news is not going over well with most of Massachusetts commuters. The fact is, the T is currently one of the cheapest transit systems to ride. We also have not raised fares since 2007 which is unheard of! I feel like that the T definitely needs to increase fairs. If we want to continue to have safe and extensive transit system in this city we are going to have to sit back and just deal with it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Man struck and killed on MBTA's Lowell Line

According to MBTA officials, a man was been struck and killed by an outbound MBTA commuter rail train at around 11:00 this morning. The victim was struck as the train was passing under the Route-128 bridge in Woburn. The bridge is right before the rarely used Mishawum station on the Lowell line. It  is still unknown how the man may have gotten onto the tracks. The MBTA was struck with a similar incident this past Sunday on the Providence line!

Delays are expected throughout the afternoon on the Lowell line.
Check for down to the second alerts.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Young girl stuck and killed by MBTA Commuter train

©2011 Boston to a T
An outbound commuter rail train on the Providence/Stoughton line struck and killed a young girl at around six pm this evening just west of the Hyde Park station according the MBTA. Police, firefighters, and paramedics are currently on scene and MBTA commuter rail service is being diverted off the Northeast Corridor.

According to witnesses the train hit the young girl and then dragged her about 50' until the train came to a stop. The train is currently standing by, waiting for further investigation, at the Readville Station.

The accident is causing major delays on the Providence/Stoughton and Franklin lines. Some Amtrak trains are also being affected. Currently trains are still operating between Boston and Providence but they are being diverted down the Fairmount Branch and cutting back onto the Northeast Corridor at Readville Junction.
Providence line commuter trains will not stop at Hyde Park, Ruggles, and Back Bay
Per usual always check for the latest alerts!

As more information becomes available I will be adding it in!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

YAY History: The Downeaster

©2011 Boston to a T
Well its taken me a little while but I finally have a new history segment! This month I'm going to be sharing with you the history of my favorite train, Amtrak's Downeaster. I'm hoping a lot of you have heard of this service but if you haven't I hope you go and check it out after reading this post!

The Downeaster is owned by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and is operated by Amtrak. It was put into revenue service on December, 15 2001 and currently runs five round-trip trains daily from Boston's North Station to Portland, Maine. Over its almost 10 years in service the Downeaster has become Amtrak's fastest growing service moving over 500,000 passengers during fiscal year 2011.

The Downeaster follows a very historic route, on 116 miles of trackage, through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. The route was once used by a joint passenger service between the Maine Central Railroad and the Boston and Maine Railroad that was dubbed the Pine Tree. The only difference is that the Pine Tree terminated in Bangor. At the present time the Downeaster uses a bus to shuttle passengers from the Portland Transportation Center to Bangor.

A Boston bound Downeaster at Anderson/Woburn station
Since the train is operated by Amtrak the ride, which takes only about two and a half hours, has a lot of great amenities. There is a full service food car, business class seating (which is actually nicer than the business class on Northeast Regional trains), and it is the only train, other than Acela, to offer free WI-FI internet! The Downeaster also has a "Train Host" program where volunteers help passengers onboard with finding and signing up for attractions near the Downeaster's stops.

Since the beginning of 2010 the Downeaster has been going through its first major expansion since the route was re-opened in 2001. The $38 Million project, which is set to be finished by the fall of 2012, will expand the Downeasters route northward to Brunswick. The Downeaster Expansion Construction Project includes the rehabilitation of approximately 27 miles of track between Portland and Brunswick owned by Pan Am Railways, and approximately 1.2 miles of track in Brunswick owned by the MaineDOT. The current jointed rail will be replaced with continuously welded rail (more on this from Tyler at IridetheT)  36 grade crossings will be fully rebuilt and signaling systems will be reconfigured and upgraded along the whole route. The majority of the work will be completed by Pan Am Railways’ labor forces and equipment, with certain elements to be constructed by MaineDOT. Upon completion of construction, Amtrak will extend two of the Downeaster’s daily round trips to Brunswick and it will create two brand new stations in Freeport and Brunswick. 
This is two Downeaster train sets coupled
together! You can see that it extends way past
the end of the platform!

Overall, the Downeaster is just plain awesome! I take it during the winter to go skiing but its also wonderful during the summer! I really hope you go out and take the train to maine and see what its like! If you want more information on the Downeaster or if you want to book a trip you can visit Well thats this months history lesson! If you have any suggestions for me please leave a comment!


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