Here is a another great guest post by fellow transit enthusiast Scott Page.
You can follow Scott on Twitter : (@ScottridestheT)!
When the system fails – labor shines.
As the evening rush hour began on Thursday April 12th a suspicious unattended brief case was reported at Boylston Station on the Green Line. At first trains were ordered to bypass the busy downtown station but as the Boston Police arrived they ordered all trains halted between Government Center and Kenmore effectively rendering the Green Line inoperable.
|The Trailer Person in 3850 walks the car keeping |
passengers abreast of the situation
As police investigated the package at Boylston trains backed up at stations along the line. At Park Street thousands of riders, all eager to get home, were greeted with the same expressionless automated message: “Attention Green Line passengers. Due to a police investigation at Boylston all Green Line service is suspended between Government Center and Kenmore. Please seek alternative service”. The cold inhumane voice of the automated message only served to confuse riders as it offered no information and could not answer questions. But the displaced Green Line riders were privy to one big advantage – appropriate transit staffing. At the westbound platform of Park Street Station sat four two-car trains awaiting further instruction – meaning eight operators were available to assist the riding public in addition to the three Green Line officials on the platform.
No crew handled the riding public better than the Pilot and Trailer Person of the E Heath Street train waiting on the fence track. From their positions in cars 3626 and 3850 they stayed in constant communication with central control and answered passenger questions to the best of their ability, with the Trailer Person in car 3850 walking the length of her train to individually answer riders’ questions.
In recent years the MBTA has made a strong push towards the irresponsible and regressive operative style of One Person Train Operation on its Rapid Transit lines as an alleged cost savings measure. The Green Line, which currently has no plans of converting to one operator, is the last line in Boston to use a multiple person crew. Green Line streetcars, for the record, require one operator per car for on board fare collection above ground and to open and close doors as the cars cannot trainline door control.
But as history tends to repeat itself it most likely won’t be long until MassDOT and the MBTA announce plans to strip the Green Line of its appropriate staffing levels. That is why it is imperative to take note of situations like the one yesterday to show the importance of second operators. The smooth handling of thousands of riders at the beginning of the evening rush hour and the start of a rush for a Bruins playoff game is a testament to the hard work and importance of all MBTA Streetcar Motorpersons regardless of which position they are in – Pilot or Trailer Person.