Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MBCR North Pole Express!

It's almost Christmastime! For me, Christmas means hot chocolate, huge christmas trees, bright strings of lights, and OF COURSE The Polar Express!

 This year Aaron and I were lucky enough to be invited to ride on the MBCR's version of The Polar Express which they dubbed the North Pole Express! 

GM Kiley, Mrs. Menino, First Lady Patrick,
GM Davis, Secretary Davey
This past Saturday we arrived to a busy South Station that was filled with young children and adults who were celebrating with holiday spirit. The MBTA did a beautiful job decorating the station for the holidays, completing it with a large scale model train set that buzzes around in an inclosure at the center of the station. I have always had an interest with model trains and I always look forward to seeing the set at South Station! 

The MBCR invited children from local Boston charities like The Boston Housing Authority and Smart from the Start to embark on this fun adventure! The train departed South Station at 4:00pm and traveled down the Fairmount line to the Readville Yard (The North Pole) where we reversed directions and headed back to Boston.

Right as you entered the train you could tell that the Holiday Spirit was in the air. Each coach on the MBCR's special train was decorated to the rafters! Long strands of colored Christmas lights, garland, and ornaments lined the inside of the coaches. Throughout the ride each coach featured a different "celebrity," if you will, that read the story of The Polar Express aloud over a P.A. system to the families and children and they also sang christmas carols! Some of the celebrities included MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis, MassDOT Secretary Rich Davey, MBCR GM Hugh Kiley Jr., and First Lady Diane Patrick.

When the train came to a quick halt at the Fairmount station, Santa, along with his elves and some other special guests made their way onto the train. The Children were very excited as Santa came down the isles of the train giving each and every one of them a brand new hardcover copy od The Polar Express and a single silver bell!

I had the chance to speak with the Matta family right as Santa was passing by them. Julie and Bill, brought along their three sons to the event Jared (8), Michael (6), and Josh (3). "This is our first year attending this event and we think it is spectacular" said Julie, "It is wonderful that the MBCR is doing this for the children."

After returning to the station all of the children were invited to watch The Polar Express movie (starring Tom Hanks!) on a huge blowup screen that was set up in the main concourse of South Station! A few vendors at South Station also pitched in to give out snacks for the showing. Doc Popcorn, a new vendor to South Station, gave away free bags of popcorn  and there were also some delicious cupcakes being given away!

 "We wanted to give back to our customers" said MBCR GM Hugh Kiley Jr., "this is the most rewarding part of my job". Overall, this was a wonderful experience and it was a privilege to be a part of it.

Now you are probably all wondering, being around all of those MBTA higher ups did I get to actually talk to them. The answer to that is yes! I was able to speak with Kiley and Davis, but unfortunately I was not able to talk to Secretary Davey, although I hope that day will come soon! Kiley, gave me a little more information on the new locomotive and coach procurement. He told me that prototypes for the new Hyundai-Rotem will begin arriving as early as the new year and that the first of the new Motive Power locomotives will begin arriving in 2013! GM Davis also gave me some insight into the possibility of the MBTA raising fairs. He explained to me that it is in the works to host over ten different public hearings to get customers feedback, these will most likely be happening after the new year. He explained that they will be making the process as public as possible! 

Special thanks to the MBCR!

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