Monday, August 6, 2007

Open letter to the MBTA

I sent this to the MBTA today...

I am writing to tell you about what happened to me on Friday when I was trying to catch a 2:45 plane at Logan airport.

I work near the B line stop at St. Paul Street. I left my office at 1 pm and had just missed a train. I waited at the stop for 15 minutes. The next train came and was going express. Even though it sat for a few minutes at a red light, it did not open the doors. There was more than enough time to load an unload the train during this time. Another 5 minutes passed before the next train came. I traveled to Government Center without incident. When I walked down to the blue line, I noticed that there were a lot of people waiting for the train. I figured one had to be coming soon. I waited 20 more minutes for a Blue Line train to the airport to come. In this time, there was not one announcement letting people know what was causing the delay, how much longer it would be or when a train was coming.

I arrived at Logan airport (after taking the shuttle bus) at 2:30, I missed my flight. I'm sure you can understand how frustrating this is. It took me 1.5 hours to travel less then 10 miles, the whole time I was anxious about catching my plane, which of course, I didn't.

As a resident of Boston, I would like to think that I could count on public transportation to get me where I need to go in a timely manner. It is normal that there will be occasional delays in service due to breakdowns etc...however, I feel it is of utmost importance that the MBTA keep their riders informed of these delays. It is also important to realize that there are tourists taking the trains too. Some do not speak English. They are also trying to catch flights.

Had an announcement been made in Government Center regarding the delays, I would have left the station and caught a cab.

When I arrived in Washington DC (on the next flight), I was impressed at their electronic information boards, allowing passengers to see not only what train will be arriving next but how long it will take to get there (in minutes) and they are correct.

I am also a frequent rider of the #39 bus and I have to say, the service on that line is very poor. I recently visited Portland OR where they have GPS systems on their buses. At each stop, you can call an 800 #, enter the stop code on the sign (at every stop) and the automated system will tell you how much longer you need to wait for your bus.

If these other cities (which, incidentally charge less for rides, and in some cases rides are free, see Portland) can get this done, why can't Boston?

I understand that you have service announcements on your website however, not all of us have access to the web while we're in transit. I would like to know what the MBTA is doing to improve their communication.

The most important thing is to be sure that your operators and passengers are informed.

Complain to the MBTA when you have problems, which I know you do, anyone up for a strike? Let me know.

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