General MBTA Topics (Multi Modal, Budget, MassDOT)

KCasiglio

Active Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2019
Messages
173
Reaction score
299
Posting reddit because I'm not going to remake the twitter post myself. Rep. William Straus is now suggesting the FTA take over the whole thing.

https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/wh574s
I'll be honestly I don't really follow the guy, but I do remember the last time I saw his name on this board, he was called a gaslighter with a context of suggesting to end the MB TA and absorb it into MassDOT. Fed Takeover or State takeover, I'm not sure if he's trying to make fake political bluffs, make it someone else problems, or genuinely see it as solutions.

More critically, I don't know what would actually work to fix it. My gut says the Feds are probably best (Though painful still)
to me this reeks of wanting to look like you are Doing Something while passing all the actual work and responsibility onto someone else. Keep the narrative on institutional incompetence rather than the state’s neglect
 

OldColony

New member
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Messages
27
Reaction score
72
Posting reddit because I'm not going to remake the twitter post myself. Rep. William Straus is now suggesting the FTA take over the whole thing.

https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/wh574s
I'll be honestly I don't really follow the guy, but I do remember the last time I saw his name on this board, he was called a gaslighter with a context of suggesting to end the MBTA and absorb it into MassDOT. Fed Takeover or State takeover, I'm not sure if he's trying to make fake political bluffs, make it someone else problems, or genuinely see it as solutions.
I am the person who called Straus a gaslighter, in this post. That was based on my experience on watching him in action six years ago trying to convince Wareham and Bourne town leaders and the public to support the South Coast Rail project's crappy phase 1, routing commuter rail trains via Middleborough, as he claimed it would advance prospects for commuter rail to Buzzards Bay as well, even though phase 1 would remove the option of extending the existing Middleborough/Lakeville service trains as a direct service to Buzzards Bay.

More critically, I don't know what would actually work to fix it. My gut says the Feds are probably best (Though painful still)
And that's the problem. This boils down to management accountability. At this point, I am long convinced that's not coming from the current (and likely next) governor, the state legislature, MBTA chairman Steve Poftak or the MBTA board of directors. So yeah, federal intervention looks to be the best of dismal options, unless this becomes a state election issue.
 

jass

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Messages
5,093
Reaction score
768
They're a charter company, aren't they? They presumably have employees to drive their buses. Presumably they decide that a guaranteed, large contract is better than their usual fare of bus charterings (does make me wonder if any of their smaller customers might get dumped to focus on the OL).
In NJ, Coach USA, which is a massive bus company, has been unable to restore more than 50% of pre-covid service, and they cite inability to find enough drivers
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
896
Reaction score
1,476
In NJ, Coach USA, which is a massive bus company, has been unable to restore more than 50% of pre-covid service, and they cite inability to find enough drivers
Which suggests that theoretically other operators (i.e. Yankee) might, or might not, have similar issues, but doesn't actually answer the question of the previous discussion, which is whether they have enough people and vehicles to cover the MBTA shuttle service they've just been contracted to run.
 

Riverside

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2012
Messages
1,036
Reaction score
1,582
Im looking forward to it! Feel free to download mine and work off of it. Caveat: I definitely didn’t it quick and dirty.Forest Hills should be listed as a Commuter Rail stop on the Providence/Stoughton Line in addition to the Needham Line, for example.
Thanks! Yeah I want to get all the details right (including Forest Hills, as you mention, and likewise the CR stopping at Oak Grove), and part of that will just have to wait until they make the official announcements.
 

ant8904

Active Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2008
Messages
709
Reaction score
324
If the Feds take over, we'll just end up in the same spot in 15-25 year because no one will learn anything or be held accountable.
Yeah, if the Feds don't, then what? At least the former implies we'll enjoy 15-25 years of functionality.

The latter doesn't look like many scenarios of anyone learning or being held accountable either. We literally have 1 and 1/4 trains lines shutting down in 2 weeks + another major delay of an expansion + train fires + bus fires + runaway trains + the possibility realization that GLX could be a kneecapped 25 mph ride but somehow the governor and the GM is managing to spin this as an PR event rather than a state-wide defining crisis.
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
896
Reaction score
1,476
The latter doesn't look like many scenarios of anyone learning or being held accountable either. We literally have 1 and 1/4 trains lines shutting down in 2 weeks + another major delay of an expansion + train fires + bus fires + runaway trains + the possibility realization that GLX could be a kneecapped 25 mph ride but somehow the governor and the GM is managing to spin this as an PR event rather than a state-wide defining crisis.
Because it's not a statewide crisis, or even anything close to it. Not in how it's perceived and covered by the media, not in how it's perceived by (at least a chunk of) the public, and certainly not how it's perceived by the politicians. The portion of the public who rides and depends on the T has become significantly jaded by the agency's long, long period of institutional rot resulting in ever-worse service and ever-greater service disruptions, to the point that something as massive as a whole-line shutdown, while still extreme, is treated as almost expected rather than earth-shattering, because of course it got to this point, things have been so bad and getting worse for so long. Anyone who doesn't depend on the subway system is, at most, inconvenienced.

The problem is the same as it has been for decades: the people who are responsible for overseeing the system (the politicians) are not particularly exposed when it fails. To this point, at least, there have never been enough state Reps. and Senators actively in danger of losing their seats over shitty MBTA service to make them care, or at least to make them care enough to challenge the insane power of the Speaker, who, as F-Line has vividly illustrated over the years, is basically the most powerful person in the state government, none of whom in recent memory have given a damn about the T.

737900er is correct that a federal takeover (if, indeed, such a thing is even possible from a legal standpoint, I'm not a constitutional lawyer or indeed a lawyer of any kind) would ultimately land us back in this same muck. The FTA forcing the T to not actively be crud isn't a bad thing, because it's at least accountability of a sort, but it's a substitute for properly fixing the problem. That requires some more direct mechanism than intermittent federal intervention when things go from cruddy-to-outright-dangerous (or, worse, perpetual rule by distant FTA bureaucrats subject to the whims of Congress) to force the state to behave responsibly. Whether that takes the form of a ballot initiative forcing proper funding of the agency, a wholesale scouring of Beacon Hill to get a better, more responsible General Court, or other accountability measures yet to be determined is an open question. But just kicking this hot potato over to Washington's hands isn't a recipe for actually solving the problem, because at some point they're going to kick it back.
 

Highwayguy

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
106
Reaction score
196
I would say burn the T down and start from scratch, but in light of recent events it seems like the T is already trying.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: W-4

ant8904

Active Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2008
Messages
709
Reaction score
324
737900er is correct that a federal takeover (if, indeed, such a thing is even possible from a legal standpoint, I'm not a constitutional lawyer or indeed a lawyer of any kind) would ultimately land us back in this same muck. The FTA forcing the T to not actively be crud isn't a bad thing, because it's at least accountability of a sort, but it's a substitute for properly fixing the problem. That requires some more direct mechanism than intermittent federal intervention when things go from cruddy-to-outright-dangerous (or, worse, perpetual rule by distant FTA bureaucrats subject to the whims of Congress) to force the state to behave responsibly. Whether that takes the form of a ballot initiative forcing proper funding of the agency, a wholesale scouring of Beacon Hill to get a better, more responsible General Court, or other accountability measures yet to be determined is an open question. But just kicking this hot potato over to Washington's hands isn't a recipe for actually solving the problem, because at some point they're going to kick it back.
Well yeah, I don't disagree, Fed takeover won't fix the true cause. But in terms of my life, enjoying 15 years of functionality is better than 0 years. If you're right that it's not hitting the state with gravity and urgency, then the non-FTA scenario is not a scenario the state will actually learn anything either.

What is the issue about of Fed Takeover if state learning or true popular outrage isn't on the table?
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
896
Reaction score
1,476
I would say burn the T down and start from scratch, but in light of recent events it seems like the T is already trying.
Tempting, but apart from exorcising long-suffering frustration, it wouldn't likely do any good.

Re-starting from "scratch" so to speak is impossible. The trains need to run (that's, ah, rather the basic problem), and that means someone needs to run them. You can't just outsource an agency this big to some new operator a-la Keolis's CR contract (and the CR contracts typically migrate employees and equipment), there's probably no one in the world with spare capacity in terms of bodies to manage that, let alone being able to deal with it without severe disruption. (And Keolis made a little bit of a hash of it on their first attempt at re-doing the CR schedules precisely because of their failure to understand the system's foibles.)

Even if we're taking "burn down and start from scratch" as deeply understandable (and appropriate) frustrated hyperbole most directly referring to management, it's still and open question whether that solves the problem. There are plenty of examples (some from here, plenty from the Cuomo-era MTA in New York) strongly suggesting that agency-level management can only get so far in trying to drive improvements without or with insufficient buy-in (literally and figuratively) from the politicians. Replace all the T's managers with the best people you can find, and call it a day, and in a year or two half of them will have quit in frustration and the other half will be announcing band-aid fixes just like this bunch, because that's all they'll have the money to do.

An entire culture change in how the state considers, funds, and runs transit is what's required. Brand it with the (T) logo, or brand it with something else, but it's that sea change that matters, not the name of the agency or which managers and staffers are running it.

Well yeah, I don't disagree, Fed takeover won't fix the true cause. But in terms of my life, enjoying 15 years of functionality is better than 0 years. If you're right that it's not hitting the state with gravity and urgency, then the non-FTA scenario is not a scenario the state will actually learn anything either.
It's can-kicking. Sometimes that's the best of the bad options, but I'm generally reflexively against anything that's designed to reduce the pain level of the politicians. And I honestly can't say that I trust the FTA to actually be able to oversee proper fixing of the underlying problems rather than just specific, largely immediate, safety issues (not least because that element of their authority is a lot clearer than the question of whether they can actually take control of a transit agency effectively by fiat for a decade or two).
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
896
Reaction score
1,476
l agree but the pun was too easy.
Yeah, I couldn't tell if your post was more towards the "sardonic humor" side or the "serious with a side of sarcasm" side, it was definitely funny either way, though, but I figured it also wouldn't hurt to throw out some responses to the inevitable comments (less here than elsewhere, perhaps) more-seriously suggesting tear-down-and-rebuild with the notion that doing so would be easy.
 

as02143

Active Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2021
Messages
125
Reaction score
139
Do you have information suggesting that they need 200-250 additional drivers, or is that number out of thin air? More to the point, Yankee obviously has buses and drivers (even if maybe not quite 'enough'), I don't see why they'd simply have to add a whole new fleet of people and vehicles to handle a contract rather than, say, use their existing one. (Whether that would force them to cancel other charter contracts is a different question.)
They signed the contract, but, I don't think there seemed to be any guarantee of performance other than that they'll try their best to supply enough vehicles and drivers. One of my friends who works downtown told me that the BL shuttle was clearly not sufficiently staffed/equipped. He observed a couple of the AM and PM peaks. I asked around to a few folks that I know at the T and they confirmed that Yankee didn't have enough buses themselves to run the 60 or 70 buses needed for the full shutdown of the BL. They got close apparently but never achieved the necessary.

160 buses x 20 hour days / 8-9 hours per driver x 2.5 shifts over 30 days. I'm not sure what the calculations are exactly for the MBTA shuttles, but, they will need a significant amount of more drivers. Probably more than they have themselves. They're clearly going to need to provide a LOT of drivers to operate over 30 days with sufficient rest to all the drivers, not overwork them, or cause another liability to the T for road safety. Does that mean they're going to be going around to Paul Revere or the other private carriers asking for loans of operators? No one in the transportation industry has a deep bench right now of drivers who aren't already working.
 

as02143

Active Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2021
Messages
125
Reaction score
139
I am the person who called Straus a gaslighter, in this post. That was based on my experience on watching him in action six years ago trying to convince Wareham and Bourne town leaders and the public to support the South Coast Rail project's crappy phase 1, routing commuter rail trains via Middleborough, as he claimed it would advance prospects for commuter rail to Buzzards Bay as well, even though phase 1 would remove the option of extending the existing Middleborough/Lakeville service trains as a direct service to Buzzards Bay.



And that's the problem. This boils down to management accountability. At this point, I am long convinced that's not coming from the current (and likely next) governor, the state legislature, MBTA chairman Steve Poftak or the MBTA board of directors. So yeah, federal intervention looks to be the best of dismal options, unless this becomes a state election issue.
WMATA's experience goes to show that the Feds are NEVER going to be the best. As bad as the commonwealth's oversight has been the past 8 years and really the bumbling state government for the past 2 decades. Federalization is never going to give us a better system that serves more people.
 

reno

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2021
Messages
61
Reaction score
83
State government has neglected MBTA for decades. A dumping ground for politically connected cronies to get an easy job with good pay and benefits. MBTA was commonly referred to as "Mister Bulger's Transit Authority" (Referring to both Billy and Whitey).
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
8,770
Reaction score
5,908
Some of the things in the transportation bill:

State Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley noted that the bill also includes $50 million for the electrification of the MBTA’s Fairmount commuter rail line, which includes a half dozen stops in Dorchester and Mattapan. She filed the amendment with Rep. Liz Miranda and state Sen. Collins.


The bill also sets aside:

• $2m for repairs to the Fields Corner MBTA station;
• $2m for an elevated median on Gallivan Boulevard between Neponset Circle and Adams Street;
• $1m for a “greenway” above the tunnel between Talbot Avenue and Park Street;
• $1m for a study of a potential sound barrier to quiet noise from Red Line tracks between Savin Hill MBTA Station and McConnell Park;
• $750k for lighting, noise reduction, and safety improvements to the parking lot adjacent to JFK/UMass Station and under the Southeast Expressway;
• $250k for improvements to the tide gates on Morrissey Boulevard at Patten’s Cove.


The bill also includes $400 million for the MBTA as the public transit agency faces increased federal scrutiny over safety issues. One of the provisions calls for more MBTA safety reports.

The legislation sets out $6.9 million for fare-free bus pilot programs for the MBTA and the regional transit authorities elsewhere in Massachusetts to administer, an expansion of a pilot pushed by Mayor Michelle Wu.

https://www.dotnews.com/2022/commission-study-morrissey-corridor-linked-transportation-bill-it-s
 

devnull

New member
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
38
Reaction score
249
Looking at the bill itself, in addition to the Fairmount line, the Worcester, Rockburyport, Providence, and Stoughton lines also get some love:

provided, that not less than $50,000,000 shall be expended for the electrification and development of rapid transportation for the Fairmount commuter rail line; provided further, that not less than $50,000,000 shall be expended for the electrification of the Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line; provided further, that not less than $50,000,000 shall be expended for the electrification of the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line; provided further, that funds shall be expended for the electrification of the Providence/Stoughton commuter rail line
 

Top