Wednesday, August 15, 2018

No Light at the End of the Tunnel

"Latest Green Line meltdown highlights hidden problems for MBTA" by Adam Vaccaro Globe Staff  June 12, 2018

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has an ambitious, $8 billion plan to improve service and reliability on the aging transit system: shiny new subway cars, a modernized fare collection system, and track improvements to allow for more frequent service during rush hour, but it is the mundane and obscure pieces of equipment that continue to disrupt service, such as the partial shutdown of the Green Line Tuesday morning that forced thousands onto shuttle buses and required the evacuation of two trolleys stranded in the ancient tunnels.

MBTA officials say they are focused on that more hidden infrastructure, too, but whether it’s flashy new vehicles or basic parts, the Baker administration acknowledges that it may take a decade or more for all of the work on the T to bear fruit.

That's what we were told ten years ago!

“We’re hopeful given the level of investment we’re doing that we’ll see an improvement in the system,“ said Steve Poftak, a member of the T’s governing board. “That doesn’t mean things that are old won’t continue to break.”

That future cannot come soon enough for passengers who are late to work and other appointments when the system breaks down, as the Green Line did for more than two hours Tuesday morning.

“The amount of delays during rush hour is staggering,” said Ryan James, who commutes on both the Red and Green lines between Quincy and the Back Bay. “It’s the same issues over and over again, with no solution in sight.”

Already, the Green Line has the worst on-time performance of the MBTA’s four subways, in part because trolleys stop at traffic lights while above ground, and then queue up where its branch lines converge on the underground tunnels. Each workday the Green Line, which reaches out through Brookline and Newton, averages 200,000 or so passengers.

T officials attributed the Green Line failure to a broken insulator that separates two wires, and that required workers to cut power for the underground Green Line near Copley Station. The failure of an obscure part underscores the challenge of a system with old equipment.

“That was a terrible morning,” Governor Charlie Baker acknowledged later Tuesday. “It was a difficult and complicated morning, but this is just another example of why the $8 billion we’re going to spend on the core system over the next several years is so important.”

Later this year the MBTA begins hundreds of millions of dollars in work on the Green Line to improve power systems, tracks, tunnels, and other infrastructure, part of the much broader, $8 billion campaign to update so much of the aging equipment across the system over the next five years.

It's an “emergency, and they need more money.” 


And the Globe wanted the Olympics to come here?

And when you finally do get a car that runs:

"Woburn woman charged with hate crime against subway rider after Pride Parade" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff  June 26, 2018

A Woburn woman allegedly hurled antigay slurs at a subway rider carrying a rainbow flag after Boston’s Pride Parade earlier this month and then pulled a knife on a man who tried to help the victim, authorities said.

Denise Knox, 36, stood for arraignment Monday in Charlestown District Court for the alleged hate crime and had her bail on a separate assault case revoked, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said in a statement.

Knox will be held without bail for 60 days due to the revocation. In the Pride Parade case, she’s charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, threats to commit a crime, and a civil rights violation. A not-guilty plea was entered on her behalf.

“No matter who you are, you have the right to live and work and travel free from threats and intimidation,” Conley said in the release.

According to an MBTA Transit Police report, a witness said Knox and her male companion both appeared “high” during the violent encounter on the Orange Line on the evening of June 9, shortly after the annual Pride Parade, a march celebrating the LGBTQ community.

Knox spotted the alleged victim, who was carrying a multicolored pride flag and sitting next to a female friend, and asked if the pair had just come from “the parade,” the report said. She repeatedly called the women homophobic slurs and a man on the train intervened and told Knox, “Hey, if you’re not going to be nice get the [expletive] off the train,” the report said.

Knox then brandished a flip knife with a black blade and white handle and snapped at the man, “Why don’t you get off the [expletive] train before I cut you,” according to the document. Knox, clad in a baggy T-shirt and carrying several trash bags, also vowed that “you’re not going to stop me from slapping these two skanks,” the report said.

At the sight of the knife, the good Samaritan recoiled, shouting “everyone get off the train” and fleeing to the next car because he “didn’t want to get stabbed,” the filing said. He pushed the emergency button in the second car and police responded to the Community College Station, where Knox was identified, the report said.

The woman who had been carrying the pride flag later contacted police and indicated that Knox, in addition to shouting the verbal abuse, also “clenched her fist and pulled it back like she was ready to swing” as she stood over the victim and her friend, according to court records.

“Based on the facts outlined in this report, I am requesting an arrest warrant for Denise Knox,” the filing said. “Knox assaulted [redacted] based on [redacted] sexual orientation, by asking her if she had come from the ‘Pride Parade,’ then proceeded to call her a [expletive] and [expletive].”

The report noted that the man who tried to help was “in fear for his life” when he saw the knife and fled to the next car.

Deborah Shields, executive director of MassEquality, a statewide advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, said Tuesday by phone that she reacted to news of the alleged attack with “real disappointment.”

“We’ve seen an uptick in hate crimes against the LGBTQ community in the state and around the country since the 2016 election,” Shields said. “It just poisons the atmosphere for everyone when there’s assaults like this.”

Shields added that her “heart goes out to the victim” and said that, on the whole, Pride Month events in Boston and surrounding communities have been “enormously” successful.

Regarding the alleged assault on the Orange Line, Shields said she was heartened that police, prosecutors, and the media were taking the case “so seriously.”

Knox is due back in court July 18.....