Green Line Extension to Medford & Union Sq

bigeman312

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He’s been here for five months and took over a dumpster fire. The system-wide slow zones were put in place the month before he took over. You can’t judge him by how awful the MBTA is, but rather how much better or worse it’s gotten under his leadership, which so far is pretty close to a wash.

Give him a year, at the very least, then reassess.

If in April of 2024, the slow zones and safety issues have not improved, I’ll start considering the “Eng had got to go” angle.
 

bakgwailo

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It shows: he’s here to collect a paycheck, dip into a second pension, and not much else.
He's been here a few months - not exactly sure what miracles you are expecting him to pull out of his arse. While I don't know much about him, by all metrics he seemed to be able to turn around the LIRR from complete garbage in a few years. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for the next year or two; especially since he seems to be bringing in new management blood that could help turn the tide.

But after many decades of disinvestment, thinking anyone could fix it in a few months on a limited budget is crazy. Seriously: given the state of the MBTA as it was left from Baker, a person would have to be crazy to sign up to try to fix it. It would be one of the last places to come and try to grab a pension. On that note: as far as I know management isn't union, and generally execs aren't getting a pension, but I could be wrong on that. Either way, that seems like a ludicrous accusation.
 
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Riverside

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I feel like the only way to evaluate Eng will be to pause at the one-year mark and tally up the items that have been successful and the number of times he's made a mistake. I feel like most "benchmarks" (e.g. reduce slow zones by X %) are just too out of his control as an individual. I'd rather have a leader in place with experience and good judgement.
 

bigeman312

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It’s been six months and every single metric has gotten worse.
Vague hyperbole isn’t helpful. Why don’t you cite some metrics that have gotten worse in the five months and seven days since April 10, when he started his tenure as GM of the MBTA.
 

Delvin4519

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GLX slowed down to 3 MPH in the last week compared to April 2023, bus service cuts in late June 2023 and late August 2023, lower bus operator headcount now compared to April 2023. Slower and fewer Green Line trips today compared to April 2023. Fewer Red Line daily trips today compared to April 2023 (Source: TM dashboard). Longer headways/intervals and wait times between evening Commuter Rail trips after 6:30pm on most CR lines starting October 2023. By those metrics, they are all worse today.

Unsolved budget shortfalls and fiscal cliffs starting next year. Still looming large after 7 - 8 months from now.

Most improvements are probably behind the scenes and have no tangential passenger benefit yet.
 
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Teban54

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A perspective that's getting lost in these conversations: At the end of the day, what matters the most is not how many slow zones are there, but how much faulty tracks are there - reported or not.

Yes, slow zones suck. But you know what sucks even more? Having trains run on not-properly-maintained tracks that exist out there anyway (which are from years of neglect), yet without repairs, mitigations or even acknowledgements of them. That was how it was like under Poftak, and some of these comments almost feel like they would prefer that.

It takes time to discover faulty tracks, possibly (if not likely) from well before Eng joined - yes, that may even apply to GLX. It takes time to establish proper procedures for track inspection and maintenance, so that we don't end up with scenarios where the Blue and Orange Line shutdowns became useless because nobody could verify if the work was actually done. It takes even more time to instill a cultural change within the T, from top to bottom.

An additional slow zone is not necessarily a sign that something was broken in the past 5 months. It may jolly well be a sign that something wrong from years ago is finally being worked on.

Not to mention there has been substantial progress on slow zone removal on the Blue and Orange lines, which the T focused on earlier this year before the other two lines.
 
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RandomWalk

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At the risk of perpetuating the digression away from the thread topic: The T has an institutional inability to be transparent about what is happening on anything it does. They groused about the FMCB meetings forcing leadership to build slide decks and prepare answers for questions, which distracted them from their “work”.
 

Riverside

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GLX slowed down to 3 MPH in the last week compared to April 2023, bus service cuts in late June 2023 and late August 2023, lower bus operator headcount now compared to April 2023. Slower and fewer Green Line trips today compared to April 2023. Fewer Red Line daily trips today compared to April 2023 (Source: TM dashboard). Longer headways/intervals and wait times between evening Commuter Rail trips after 6:30pm on most CR lines starting October 2023. By those metrics, they are all worse today.

Unsolved budget shortfalls and fiscal cliffs starting next year. Still looming large after 7 - 8 months from now.

Most improvements are probably behind the scenes and have no tangential passenger benefit yet.
These are useful stats for discussion, thank you for sharing them!

I think my take is similar to what @Teban54 and @RandomWalk are getting at: a lot of those metrics don’t reflect a degradation in service per se, but rather reflect an increase in transparency and visibility. Like, I’d be shocked if those GLX tracks actually degraded meaningfully in the last few months — it seems all but certain that it is the inspection standards (or process) that have adjusted and revealed problems.

Personally, I think the T’s problems are well beyond the ability of a GM to fix. If that’s so, then probably the best thing he can do is to uncover all that he can — and literally also try to keep the T from killing any more people. (Seriously, that news last week about the four near-misses they’ve had is nuts.)

On a more mundane note, it is true that evening CR freqs have decreased, but the span of service has finally been restored back to what it was before the artificially-induced cuts a few years back. Ideally we’d have both frequencies and late night service, but I think there’s an argument to make in favor of the latter.
At the risk of perpetuating the digression away from the thread topic: The T has an institutional inability to be transparent about what is happening on anything it does. They groused about the FMCB meetings forcing leadership to build slide decks and prepare answers for questions, which distracted them from their “work”.
In general I agree with you, but my recollection of the 2018 safety report was that the authors basically agreed that the FMCB presentations were onerous and had become an impediment to safe operations. The FMCB always struck me as performative, so I’m not super surprised. That being said, although I disagree with the example, I agree with your overall point.
 

king_vibe

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Since Eng isn’t interested in actually providing timely transit service, maybe he could manage a controlled unwinding of the MBTA project. Spin off what ROWs could be run for a profit, sell the rolling stock to whomever would take some Chinese junk.
 

bigeman312

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It’s been six months and every single metric has gotten worse.
Let's examine some actual statistics to see if "every single metric" has truly worsened:

Red Line slow zones: 76 minutes when Eng started. 70 minutes today. BETTER

Orange Line slow zones: 22 minutes when Eng started. 15 minutes today. BETTER

Blue Line slow zones: 10 minutes when Eng started. 2 minutes today. BETTER

If you're suggesting that every metric is getting worse, the TransitMatters dashboard objectively indicates otherwise.

If you want to say "some metrics are worsening," that's valid. Or "things aren't improving as fast as I'd like," or "the focus is misplaced," that's fair. But making blanket, inaccurate statements is misleading and warrants clarification.

EDITED: for kindness
 

Delvin4519

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Since Eng isn’t interested in actually providing timely transit service, maybe he could manage a controlled unwinding of the MBTA project. Spin off what ROWs could be run for a profit, sell the rolling stock to whomever would take some Chinese junk.
Keep forgetting this report here:, stating that the slow zones, such as that of the GLX Green Line Extension Lechmere viaduct, will probably persist for years and years on end into the future.

SOURCE: https://www.axios.com/local/boston/2023/09/07/mbta-slow-summer-service

1694999454548.png


Also keep in mind: Yes, the Blue Line did slightly improve, and OL has an extra railcar in circulation. We do have the GLX today, unlike a year ago today. Many metrics did get worse, but not all.
 

sneijder

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Keep forgetting this report here:, stating that the slow zones, such as that of the GLX Green Line Extension Lechmere viaduct, will probably persist for years and years on end into the future.

SOURCE: https://www.axios.com/local/boston/2023/09/07/mbta-slow-summer-service

View attachment 42797

Also keep in mind: Yes, the Blue Line did slightly improve, and OL has an extra railcar in circulation. We do have the GLX today, unlike a year ago today. Many metrics did get worse, but not all.
I don't quite get this. Isn't the problem just damaged tracks, switches, and third rail? Are you really telling me that just ripping out old tracks and installing new ones over the 20-mile red line takes.... 4 years? I feel that even the NYC MTA can get this done in 3-6 months. Shut the line on weekends, every evening from 9-close of service, or better yet just shut half of each line at a time, like the OL.
 

bigeman312

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I don't quite get this. Isn't the problem just damaged tracks, switches, and third rail? Are you really telling me that just ripping out old tracks and installing new ones over the 20-mile red line takes.... 4 years? I feel that even the NYC MTA can get this done in 3-6 months. Shut the line on weekends, every evening from 9-close of service, or better yet just shut half of each line at a time, like the OL.
A new report just came out basically saying that the MBTA's track staff weren't trained well enough and roles for maintenance were super unclear. This mess led to a huge pile-up of repairs and forced systemwide slow-zones last March. Because of these problems, it's pretty clear that getting the tracks fixed is going to take a lot more time. They've got to sort out the training and role issues first before they can really get down to business.
 

king_vibe

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A new report just came out basically saying that the MBTA's track staff weren't trained well enough and roles for maintenance were super unclear. This mess led to a huge pile-up of repairs and forced systemwide slow-zones last March. Because of these problems, it's pretty clear that getting the tracks fixed is going to take a lot more time. They've got to sort out the training and role issues first before they can really get down to business.
They could rip out all the rails and replace them and you'd have slow zones again one week later. It needs to become apparent to the people on this forum that the MBTA is simply not in the business of operating a transit system. I feel bad for the rubes pushing “Transit Oriented Development” in a town with no transit.
 

ant8904

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They could rip out all the rails and replace them and you'd have slow zones again one week later. It needs to become apparent to the people on this forum that the MBTA is simply not in the business of operating a transit system. I feel bad for the rubes pushing “Transit Oriented Development” in a town with no transit.
What does that even mean? What does it mean for everyone in the forum start agreeing with you that "the MBTA is simply not in the business of operating a transit system"? Start talking like some certain Globe/Herald/Commonwealth commentators that demands to stop all future transit projects and shut down the existing MBTA? Because the way those people justify their arguments (of those that who are able to articulate reasonings - some of them really can't beyond just "government/trains bad") is the MBTA is just too corrupt and will always be too corrupt, so the only option is to give up transit (though it's okay, they own cars and we should all just do the same with parking and road widening to support it).

some of these comments almost feel like they would prefer that.
I'll going to be frank, it's not "some", it's one. King_vibe with single sentence hot takes and zero effort double-downs responses.

Yes, you're frustrated king_vibe, we are all frustrated. No, King_vibe it doesn't make your takes correct or true. It doesn't make it okay to think the safety standards can be dropped without actual technical justifications. It doesn't mean you can confidently know 5 months is enough time to know Eng is helping or not without any sign of any technical, managerial, political, or engineering knowledge. Hell, you didn't even acknowledge the problems may well be beyond any general manager's power. Firing Eng may well be firing the captain of the Titantic after it hit the iceberg - except Eng took over after it already hit the iceberg.

Unlike you, I am willing to recognize nuances. Thus I'll give the possibility that Eng could be over head or maybe even hired by Healey not to fix the MBTA but just to be a punching bag while the MBTA falls apart even more. But I also recognize it's idle speculation, not expert or even informed assessment.
 

HenryAlan

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On that note: as far as I know management isn't union, and generally execs aren't getting a pension, but I could be wrong on that. Either way, that seems like a ludicrous accusation.
No, they wouldn't be in a union, but they almost certainly get some sort of retirement benefit. I have only been in a union job once, and it was brief. But every adult job I've had included a pension. This is especially true in public sector employment.

It’s been six months and every single metric has gotten worse.
Complete and utter nonsense.
 

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