MBTA "Transformation" (Green Line, Red Line, & Orange Line Transformation Projects)

stick n move

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Has the company building MBTA trains ‘completely abandoned its core responsibilities’?

By Joan Vennochi Globe Columnist,Updated January 4, 2023, 11:07 a.m.
New Orange Line cars sat on the production floor of the CRRC MA factory in Springfield in 2018.



You know that Springfield factory where a company that never before assembled a rail car in the United States is under state contract to build a fleet of new Orange and Red line trains? It’s a hot mess — one that outgoing Governor Charlie Baker has left to incoming Governor Maura Healey to fix.
A Dec. 22 letter from MBTA Deputy Director Mark DeVitto to the project manager of CRRC MA — the Chinese company that’s producing the rail cars — presents a worrisome list of workmanship and inspection reporting lapses. “Given the breadth, number and age of chronic quality issues that have remained unresolved, it becomes abundantly clear that CRRC MA’s management has completely abandoned its core responsibilities and commitment to lead, monitor and support quality management,” wrote DeVitto. “This situation has already caused major disruptions, rework and delays in production and delivery of Orange and Red Line cars.”

Asked about the letter, the T was, as usual, less than forthcoming. “The MBTA continues to engage with CRRC MA on issues related to production and quality assurance and CRRC MA has informed the MBTA they will provide a response to the concerns raised in the letter this week,” T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said via e-mail. The MBTA, he added, “continues to assess all available remedies, including the liquidated damages clause of the CRRC MA contract,” which refers to financial penalties the T can assess under the contract.

A specific question as to whether any of the 16 concerns cited in the letter contributed to the T’s recent decision to quietly cut more Orange Line service was ignored. But Jim Aloisi, a former state transportation secretary, said that number five on the list — “chronic workmanship quality issues with electrical assembly work, wire crimping, wire terminations, etc.” — could have played a role. According to a statement issued last week by the T, those trains were pulled from service after the transit authority found a “failure in a power cable that may have created some electrical arcing with a nearby train axle.” Noted Aloisi: “The dots do seem to connect there….”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/01...hats-building-new-mbta-rail-cars-is-hot-mess/
 

Highwayguy

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….And the walking speed slow zone between Assembly and Sullivan SB is back.
Over a month later and its still there, in addition to another one between Community and the tunnel portal where one of the trains decided to get sparky a few weeks back. The current rider experience was totally worth shutting it down for a month.
 

bigeman312

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To put in perspective, the median travel time Assembly to Sullivan SB was 0.8 minutes pre-shutdown. It is now 2.6 minutes. Travel time over that segment has increased by 225% since a month-long shutdown to repair the line. Based on ridership estimates, that slow zone costs over a human-month of commuter time per day. Make it make sense!
 

LexSEDotVille

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Took my first 'crosstown' trip from E Somerville to Quincy Ctr (green > red) since the Orange shutdown, etc. It took 1hr 20! I'm completely baffled - what's causing the slow ride from JFK to N Quincy? Anyone know what's being done to address it?

In the past I would have had no doubt choosing the T was the quicker/easier option.
 

sneijder

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Took my first 'crosstown' trip from E Somerville to Quincy Ctr (green > red) since the Orange shutdown, etc. It took 1hr 20! I'm completely baffled - what's causing the slow ride from JFK to N Quincy? Anyone know what's being done to address it?

In the past I would have had no doubt choosing the T was the quicker/easier option.
It's not as publicized as the orange line shutdown, but Red Line service is catastrophically poor right now, and much worse when compared to level of service (i.e. headways and travel times) anytime in the last 10 years. They are still on weekend-level headways (15 min branches, 7.5min trunk) thanks to the dispatcher shortage, and that is made worse by the 20 mins of slow zones from poor track conditions, which effectively increases the headways by another 1-2mins.

And unfortunately, there is no end in sight to either the dispatcher issue or the track conditions (there are no planned closures to repair the track at this time). I've decided to buy a blue bike membership instead.
 

bigeman312

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Took my first 'crosstown' trip from E Somerville to Quincy Ctr (green > red) since the Orange shutdown, etc. It took 1hr 20! I'm completely baffled - what's causing the slow ride from JFK to N Quincy? Anyone know what's being done to address it?

In the past I would have had no doubt choosing the T was the quicker/easier option.
The Red Line has had more slow zones than the other lines since it surpassed the Orange Line in mid-October.

That being said, 80 minutes is excessively long for that trip, even accounting for those slow zones!
  • The median travel time between East Somerville and Park Street has been 16 minutes today.
  • The median headway between Red Line trains today has been 8 minutes, so we can assume roughly 16 minutes between Braintree branch trains.
  • The median travel time between Park Street and Quincy Center has been 32 minutes today.
Therefore, an average T trip from East Somerville to Quincy Center (time from boarding at East Somerville to alighting at Qunicy Center) would be roughly 56 minutes (16 minutes on Green + 8 minute transfer (16/2 for a median) + 32 minutes on Red = 56 minutes total). It appears your trip took 24 minutes longer than the median trip of its kind today, according to transitmatters' data. Let's explore further. Here is a graph of today's Park Street to Quincy Center Red Line trips:

Red_Park_to_Quincy_Center_1_17_23.png


Did you depart Park Street at 3:21 PM? If so, that red dot was the train you were on, which took 12 minutes longer than the median Red Line train from Park Street to Quincy Center today.
 

737900er

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It's not as publicized as the orange line shutdown, but Red Line service is catastrophically poor right now, and much worse when compared to level of service (i.e. headways and travel times) anytime in the last 10 years. They are still on weekend-level headways (15 min branches, 7.5min trunk) thanks to the dispatcher shortage, and that is made worse by the 20 mins of slow zones from poor track conditions, which effectively increases the headways by another 1-2mins.

And unfortunately, there is no end in sight to either the dispatcher issue or the track conditions (there are no planned closures to repair the track at this time). I've decided to buy a blue bike membership instead.
This is exacerbated by their inability to maintain consistent headways on the Alewife-JFK/UMass section, especially Northbound.

1673993372722.png


Yes, they achieved a 7 minute average headway on Friday, but they also had an atrocious 3.3 minute standard deviation (Southbound was 2.4 minutes). I suspect that they don't automatically adjust their dispatch schedules to account for speed restrictions on Ashmont or Braintree northbound, because Braintree has very nearly 3 more minutes of delay than Ashmont.

1673993719198.png
 
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JeffDowntown

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grand_junction

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It's not as publicized as the orange line shutdown, but Red Line service is catastrophically poor right now, and much worse when compared to level of service (i.e. headways and travel times) anytime in the last 10 years. They are still on weekend-level headways (15 min branches, 7.5min trunk) thanks to the dispatcher shortage, and that is made worse by the 20 mins of slow zones from poor track conditions, which effectively increases the headways by another 1-2mins.

And unfortunately, there is no end in sight to either the dispatcher issue or the track conditions (there are no planned closures to repair the track at this time). I've decided to buy a blue bike membership instead.
I suppose to some degree it's lucky then that a chunk of the Red Line is in a pretty cycling-friendly city, otherwise the BlueBike mode shift wouldn't even be possible. But that certainly can't be said for points south of South Station. You would hope that public officials would be hammering the MBTA for the state we're in on the Red Line, but it seems that it's really flown under the radar.
 

OldColony

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Lechmere Viaduct slow zone is now 10 months old, will be a year old in 2 months. StreetsBLOG Mass reports: https://mass.streetsblog.org/2023/0...line-slow-zone-approaches-1-year-anniversary/

The T is waiting on additional parts to be delivered, in order to make additional fixes. Apparently.
I love the MBTA spokesweasel response in the StreetsBlog article:

“The MBTA continues working diligently to execute safe and rapid strategies to eliminate slow zones across the system. The slow zone is in place at the East Cambridge Viaduct as the MBTA awaits custom ties for the 110-year-old bascule span of the viaduct,” Lisa Battison, MBTA spokesperson told StreetsblogMASS over email last week.
The bascule span is what tiny proportion of the viaduct?

“While these custom ties are being replaced, the MBTA will use this opportunity to access and replace rail. Based on projections related to working and weather conditions on the open deck structure over the Charles River and the availability of resources and materials, the work to remove the slow zone is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2023,” said Battison.
The rail across the entire span wasn't replaced as part of the viaduct rehabilitation?

I wonder if Battison kept a straight face writing the response.
 

LexSEDotVille

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Did you depart Park Street at 3:21 PM? If so, that red dot was the train you were on, which took 12 minutes longer than the median Red Line train from Park Street to Quincy Center today.
I was on the 2:40pm train. I'm surprised to see there were longer rides than mine!

I think it was the combo of the slower GLX stretch from E Somerville to N Station + a long transfer at Park + and the aforementioned slow Red, that all contributed to such a slow trip. (Are the slow stretches from E Somerville to Lechmere permanent?)

Luckily most of my trips are on buses or shorter stretches of the T nowadays. Longer trips seem to really exacerbate + highlight the impact of the slowdowns.
 

HenryAlan

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I suppose to some degree it's lucky then that a chunk of the Red Line is in a pretty cycling-friendly city, otherwise the BlueBike mode shift wouldn't even be possible. But that certainly can't be said for points south of South Station. You would hope that public officials would be hammering the MBTA for the state we're in on the Red Line, but it seems that it's really flown under the radar.
It may not be Cambridge, but Dorchester is more bikeable than people realize. Quincy and Braintree, though, are both pretty bad.
 

bigeman312

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I was on the 2:40pm train. I'm surprised to see there were longer rides than mine!

I think it was the combo of the slower GLX stretch from E Somerville to N Station + a long transfer at Park + and the aforementioned slow Red, that all contributed to such a slow trip. (Are the slow stretches from E Somerville to Lechmere permanent?)

Luckily most of my trips are on buses or shorter stretches of the T nowadays. Longer trips seem to really exacerbate + highlight the impact of the slowdowns.
Working backwards:

Red Line (Park St -> Quincy Center)

You were on the 2nd slowest Red Line trip (Park St -> Quincy Center) that day. It departed Park Street at 2:38 and arrived at Quincy Center at 3:16. Congrats! :p

Red_Park_to_Quincy_Center_1_17_23.png


It took 38 minutes from Park Street to Quincy Center, compared to a daily median of 32 minutes, and a median of 23 minutes in October '22, before the JFK -> North Quincy slow zone was put into place.

So, your Red Line trip was six minutes longer than typical for the day and 15 minutes longer than typical for October. Ouch!

Green Line (East Somerville -> Park Street)

What really stands out is the 42 minutes from East Somerville until boarding at Park Street.

The Braintree train you took left 16 minutes after the one before it, which is unfortunately a typical headway for January 2023 on the Red Line. Due to these abysmal headways on the Red Line, you would have caught the same Red Line train (2:38) whether you were on the Green Line train departing East Somerville at 2:18 or 2:11. If you departed East Somerville at 2:18, it took you 58 minutes until arriving at Quincy Center. Given how long you say it took though, I bet you departed East Somerville at 2:11, which took 20 minutes for that trip, in the slowest 5% of such trips that day:

ESomerville_Park.png


Thet means you had 8 minutes between arriving at Park Street on the Green and departing on the Red Line.

All-in-all, that means it took you 1:05 from departing East Somerville to arriving at Quincy Center, compared to a median of 56 minutes for that day. So, you had nine minutes of bad luck and the rest is due to ongoing MBTA issues (slow zones, poor headways, etc).

Unfortunately for you, the Green Line train you took was not only one of the slowest of the day, but also coming off one of the longest headways of the day (12 minutes):

ESomerville_Park_1_17_Headways.png


So, if you're counting travel time from when you arrived at East Somerville, that could bring you up to 1:17 travel time (even 1:18 accounting for some rounding), which is understandable to round to 1:20. All-in-all, if that's the case, and you arrived at East Somerville at 1:58:30, you may have coincidentally picked close to the worst minute to show up for that trip all day, not to mention the T's long-standing ongoing issues. If that's the case, you could have showed up at East Somerville 19 minutes later and arrived on the exact same Red Line train to Quincy Center, and still taken longer than typical to get there. Ouch!

Well this was a fun exercise for me, at least!
 
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devnull

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NTSB Report reveals Green Line TPS Project delayed from “late 2023” to June 2025.

What happened to the tens of millions from the operating budget that were redirected to accelerate this project?
In today's safety subcommittee board meeting, they presented an update on GLTPS. From the slides, here's the new timeline:

Screen Shot 2023-01-19 at 8.39.47 PM.png


Also, there isn't any info about this in the slides, but in the presentation itself they mentioned the delay was (at least partially) due to the BBR* being bought out by Stadler. If you want to watch, the relevant part of the meeting recording (at the link above) is from 32:30 to 58:10.

(* BBR Verkehrstechnik GmbH, who was the original GLTPS contractor, as seen in this FMCB presentation from 2019)
 

Highwayguy

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as02143

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In today's safety subcommittee board meeting, they presented an update on GLTPS. From the slides, here's the new timeline:

View attachment 33290

Also, there isn't any info about this in the slides, but in the presentation itself they mentioned the delay was (at least partially) due to the BBR* being bought out by Stadler. If you want to watch, the relevant part of the meeting recording (at the link above) is from 32:30 to 58:10.

(* BBR Verkehrstechnik GmbH, who was the original GLTPS contractor, as seen in this FMCB presentation from 2019)
The T is not having good luck with these "system integrators". First it was the fare 2.0 with Cubic as systems integrator now it's the GL train protection system and BBR ?
 

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