MBTA 2021 - The year the MBTA stop sucking?

datadyne007

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Here's a question to everyone? Assuming all these projects are coming to fruition at the same time? What are the missing major projects want it comes to reliability? Or does this covers all the major causes of our bad days?

If that is so, then what about the cited billions of dollars in deferred maintenance. Is it all commuter rail issues after that point? Or is are there more categories of equipment beneath the surface? Or that amount we need to spend to keep up - regardless we replace all the old trains and signals with new ones?
As presented to the FMCB today, there will likely be a robust rebuilding of major portions of GL tracks in the next few years.

 

Arlington

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This is a 4 year old thread, worth revisiting. We are about half on schedule (GLX), With all of the other elements like new trains and improved track and signal and fare collection only being about half on schedule

At the same time 2021 is only 1/3 done and it does seem to me that there’s time before the end of the year to actually deliver on much of the promise the 2021 had when this thread began in 2017
 

Jahvon09

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Keep in mind stop sucking doesn't necessarily means Japan "we apologize for being 20-seconds late" level good.

  • 152 New Orange Line Trains
  • 252 New Red Line Trains
  • 24 New Green Line Trains
  • GLX completing theoretically around this time (with maintenance rail yard that the real consequential point in this context)
  • Signal Priority is currently being expanded
  • New AFC 2.0 implemented with pertinent benefits of all-doors boarding and integrated fare system with ferries and the commuter rail (ignoring debate that we can do a lot of the above right now if we wanted to)
  • (Edited in) Signal upgrades is coming per comments below.

We're been dealing with the crappy MBTA for so long that it's really hard to imagine anything different. That this is America. This is Boston. Our trains are always going to suck. But I can't help but notice that by 2021, all these deliverables are dated to be completed or close to completion. And from my understanding the above should addresses these problems commonly cited as the cause of the last bad day

  • Reducing of breakdowns by dead trains
  • Rush Hour overcrowding because we have to wait five minutes to the next train during hour because these just isn't enough living trains anymore for shorter headways
  • Green Line losing time to front door boarding
  • Green Line losing time to red lights.
  • Smaller percentage of Green Line trains in the fleet with the derailing issue.


Maybe, just maybe, after all these years of half-hearted that there's actually a light at the end of the tunnel? That we might actually see a "decent" system. It might not be great, but not suck anymore? That we can describe the MBTA in more positive words than "well, at least it covers a lot of the city"?

The counterpoint is not all our bad experience is related to the above. A lot of our problems that is not dead trains is cited to signal problems. And I haven't heard of a real overhaul to any lines of those signal issues. Plus the even ATO systems the ones that were done recently continues to suck. How many years of weekends bustitutions do you need to finally finish "signal work" on the orange line? None of the above stop trash fires. And none of the above addresses power failures (though I vaguely remember they are attacking that too).

But regardless, the above seems to be an actually substantial list. But is it enough? What are the biggest missing projects to not a MBTA that not suck?
I think that refers to cars, not trains. Yeah, the cars help to make up the trains. :giggle:
 

Jahvon09

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That's a cool factoid (is there a table or chart somewhere for this?)

I guess the Red has lower riders/mile because of the lesser-used branches south of town, vs the Orange being used solidly for its entire length?

So when's a good estimate for when the Orange Line will stop sucking?
When they can put the new trains back online & stop seemingly yanking them off the tracks for every little mishap that comes along. I mean, look at this, guys; Ever since August, 2019, they have been taking the new trains out of service multiple times & they still ain't got it right. Are they gonna just keep on doing this forever? I'd much rather hear that they are being tested more, than to keep going through this ridiculous crap. :unsure:
 

ra84970

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Keep in mind stop sucking doesn't necessarily means Japan "we apologize for being 20-seconds late" level good.

  • 152 New Orange Line Trains
  • 252 New Red Line Trains
  • 24 New Green Line Trains
  • GLX completing theoretically around this time (with maintenance rail yard that the real consequential point in this context)
  • Signal Priority is currently being expanded
  • New AFC 2.0 implemented with pertinent benefits of all-doors boarding and integrated fare system with ferries and the commuter rail (ignoring debate that we can do a lot of the above right now if we wanted to)
  • (Edited in) Signal upgrades is coming per comments below.
OL deliveries are delayed due to problems in Springfield and some manufacturing/logicstics (?) issues
RL deliveries - ditto
GL trains all pretty much delivered
GLX appears to be able to meet some sort of 2021 delivery mark - appears to be some risk that they aren't going to be 100% on 12/31, but have both lines in operation.
Signal priority is a topic that hasn't been heard from in a while
AFC2.0 has a new name - "Fare Transformation" - and thus a new schedule
Signal upgrades appear to be underway on RL and OL with lots of mid-year closures

Not bad to be honest for a 2021-1Q check-in.
 

ant8904

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So the recent wave of news is sadly tells me that even if we can point out improvements are coming, 2021 is not the year our collective perceptions will seriously shift.

Even if the recent events was just bad luck, that the new red line trains will start coming in force soon that will prevent that from happening again. That the escalator was a freak random accident. That the stairs was unfortunate series of events.

I hopped 2021 would have enough new trains that the derailment couldn't happen in the first place (not that new trains didn't derail anyways in this past year). The escalator accident should probably never be possible to happen. And part of the reason why that death occurred with the stairs is our system is still too broken to timely replace the stairs (and old cynicism is leaning too likely to be true - with that death, they solve the issue by just removing the stairs, will they actually replace the stairs for the ease and accessibility of people?)

Maybe 2022 will see enough good news that we'll actually start to truly feel different about the MBTA - not just me but I mean the general public perception (or at least how redditors speak about the T).
 

HelloBostonHi

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Keep in mind stop sucking doesn't necessarily means Japan "we apologize for being 20-seconds late" level good.

  • 152 New Orange Line Trains
  • 252 New Red Line Trains
  • 24 New Green Line Trains
  • GLX completing theoretically around this time (with maintenance rail yard that the real consequential point in this context)
  • Signal Priority is currently being expanded
  • New AFC 2.0 implemented with pertinent benefits of all-doors boarding and integrated fare system with ferries and the commuter rail (ignoring debate that we can do a lot of the above right now if we wanted to)
  • (Edited in) Signal upgrades is coming per comments below.
  • Orange line trains: partly in service
  • Red line trains: 1 trainset delivered, indefinitely pulled from service
  • Green line trains: successfully rolled out, behind schedule but still ahead of revised GLX schedule
  • GLX: behind schedule
  • Signal priority: still on hold in the City of Boston but rolled out in Brookline
  • AFC 2.0: lol we're barely halfway to AFC 1.5 and 2.0 looks to be in the distant future
  • Signal upgrades: behind schedule but starting testing on the red line as of this weekend.
If we had successfully delivered all those projects on time then I think we could finally say the MBTA is back on track. I think there has been solid progress in the past 4 years but not nearly what we were promised. I think now my hopes rest with bus network redesign, the eventual completion of RL/OL transformation, the 2028 dream of type 10 green line trains and perhaps AFC 2.0 sometime in the next two years.
 

guitarguynboston

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If they could even just finish 2 projects on time that were both under construction at the same time I think the public would have a serious shift in how they think the MBTA conducts their projects and maybe just maybe we could get more car centric Massholes to actually believe and not block other projects that are needed for public transit without whining about something stupid they believe would hurt their car commutes.
 

Brattle Loop

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If they could even just finish 2 projects on time that were both under construction at the same time I think the public would have a serious shift in how they think the MBTA conducts their projects and maybe just maybe we could get more car centric Massholes to actually believe and not block other projects that are needed for public transit without whining about something stupid they believe would hurt their car commutes.
It's a nice thought, but I have my doubts. The thesis here is muddled. At one turn you seem to imply that opposition to transit problems comes from fear of mismanagement, where evidence of competent project management would be effective at reducing opposition, while at another you imply that opposition comes from NIMBYs whining about the - real or imagined - impacts to their present (car-centric) commuting patterns.

I think the latter argument is more accurate. There's certainly some Big Dig-induced skittishness around big-ticket projects on the part of the politicians and the other power bases in the state, and a resulting general public aversion that could, potentially, be calmed if the state (including the T) demonstrated better ability to manage projects. That said, I have a hard time accepting that the bulk of resistance to projects is based on mismanagement rather than a combination of NIMBYist concern over impacts to current non-users coupled with a general aversion to (increased) taxation that does or may not provide tangible benefits. The reaction might be a bit more muted if people didn't think that money would be wasted hand-over-foot, but the large mass of people who are rarely if ever going to directly benefit from any given project are still not going to magically jump on board, because opposing such things is relatively rational for them. So it's only the people who are in the category of "I would like it, if the cost was reasonable" (which is the general sentiment for a lot of suggestions here outside the Crazy Transit Pitches thread) who are moveable by better project management, not the people in the category of "what do I get out of this", which, unfortunately, is likely to be a much-larger category (including, annoyingly, among the politicians).
 

ant8904

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If they could even just finish 2 projects on time that were both under construction at the same time I think the public would have a serious shift in how they think the MBTA conducts their projects and maybe just maybe we could get more car centric Massholes to actually believe and not block other projects that are needed for public transit without whining about something stupid they believe would hurt their car commutes.
Sadly, 2021 shows not just getting the positive, not just neutral, but just today Baker is defending himself by repeatedly saying to the press conference the MBTA "is safe" multiple times like broken record. Even if some of the incidences is actually bad luck, we can sadly say 2021 is not the back-to-back positive experiences we wanted to see.
 

Randomgear

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Even if the recent events was just bad luck, that the new red line trains will start coming in force soon that will prevent that from happening again. That the escalator was a freak random accident. That the stairs was unfortunate series of events.
Nope, not an unfortunate series of events, but the result of disfunction and systematic neglect. MassDOT took a week plus, to figure out that it had responsibility for the stair that collapsed and they still haven't said whether it will ever be repaired. The redline took a bite out of a platform due to the fact we are still running old cars on tracks that are even older. The Greenline had a crash because the MBTA is too damned inept to actually implement PTC on lines. A properly maintained escalator would not have failed, something(s) had to be worn, loose, or misaligned, all things that proper service and inspection should have caught.

The repairs and replacements to bring things to a state of good repair have simply not kept up with the continued acceleration of decay. We once had an accelerated bridge program, we need an accelerated MBTA repair/replacement program and we need it now!
 

Brattle Loop

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Nope, not an unfortunate series of events, but the result of disfunction and systematic neglect. MassDOT took a week plus, to figure out that it had responsibility for the stair that collapsed and they still haven't said whether it will ever be repaired. The redline took a bite out of a platform due to the fact we are still running old cars on tracks that are even older. The Greenline had a crash because the MBTA is too damned inept to actually implement PTC on lines. A properly maintained escalator would not have failed, something(s) had to be worn, loose, or misaligned, all things that proper service and inspection should have caught.

The repairs and replacements to bring things to a state of good repair have simply not kept up with the continued acceleration of decay. We once had an accelerated bridge program, we need an accelerated MBTA repair/replacement program and we need it now!
First question: has it been announced that the cars (or their ages) were factors in the Red Line derailment? I'm legitimately asking, because I haven't seen any statements of what was responsible for that and would like to know if you're referring to statements I have missed, or speculating as to the cause.

The MBTA is currently in the process of working to install a PTC system on the Green Line. They ought to, and as far as I know have not been made to, answer as to why it has taken this long for them to get around to it. That said, the problem with PTC on the Green Line has always been trying to graft a PTC system on top of the ancient signal system that wouldn't have the side effect of slashing the capacity of the Central Subway and ruining the entire line. It's worth noting that until sometime in the mid-2010s even the T had literally no way of tracking trolleys on the Green Line beyond the radio and the inspectors along the line recording car numbers with pen and paper. For all I know it's taken this long for the T to get within striking distance of a PTC system that doesn't kill the line operationally (rather than neglect) we simply do not know due to a troubling lack of consistent accountability. The escalator accident was presumably the responsibility of a contractor, but still under the T's umbrella and therefore their responsibility. The staircase accident and the related jurisdictional hot potato was not the T's mess, though it is an indictment of the state's lack of coherent management of the transportation infrastructure.

You're not wrong to argue that the MBTA has been neglectful of its state of good repair, though how much of that, particularly on the capital budgeting side (new cars are expensive) has to do with the state's neglect to properly fund the agency, is open for discussion. That said, just using a series of unrelated events stripped of nuance to paint a picture of an organization on the brink of collapse comes off as borderline hysterical, unless the intended use is as a public relations tactic to try and get politicians and the public to care about and do something about the problems (a tactic I'd argue is not necessary for the audience on this forum).
 

Randomgear

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First question: has it been announced that the cars (or their ages) were factors in the Red Line derailment? I'm legitimately asking, because I haven't seen any statements of what was responsible for that and would like to know if you're referring to statements I have missed, or speculating as to the cause.
Well, ever since the T announced that the Orange Line derailed at Wellington because the newer cars are just far too heavy, I've lost all faith in what the MBTA says. They say it's safe to ride; well I'm just glad I'm not riding it these days.
 

bakgwailo

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Well, ever since the T announced that the Orange Line derailed at Wellington because the newer cars are just far too heavy, I've lost all faith in what the MBTA says. They say it's safe to ride; well I'm just glad I'm not riding it these days.
Unless I am thinking about a different episode, the MBTA has said it was a combo of bad track infrastructure, a failed/defective component on the new trains, and maybe the weight? I honestly don't remember if they pointed to that or not. But.... it wasn't simply the 'cars are far too heavy'.
 

Brattle Loop

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Unless I am thinking about a different episode, the MBTA has said it was a combo of bad track infrastructure, a failed/defective component on the new trains, and maybe the weight? I honestly don't remember if they pointed to that or not. But.... it wasn't simply the 'cars are far too heavy'.
I believe the reference was to previous derailments in Wellington Yard, none of which involved trains in passenger service, in which the T cited the weight as a factor. This was prior to the one that got them pulled from service, so I don't know if they've subsequently determined whether the side bearer pads in the trucks were involved in those incidents. Regardless of that question, the T's own take on the yard derailments was basically that the switches were built to handle equipment that was significantly lighter and had not (at least at that point) been upgraded to handle the CRRC cars' greater weight, something which may also have been true for the not-routinely-used switch on which the in-service derailment occurred.
 

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