MBTA blog postings

MBTA Postings

Earliest: May 17, 2005Latest: June 11, 2017Total: 67

June 11, 2017

Infield Lot

Tomorrow the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) will be soft opening the new parking lot at the Framingham MBTA station. Only a few spaces will be open in the new lot.

David Perry, @FramWorMBTA, has been naming the new lot, "Infield Lot." I like the name a lot and I think that the MWRTA should adopt it. It a good play on words since the lot is located between the Banana Lot and the MBTA Station. In addition, the train does make a stop near Fenway Park.

Infield Lot
I created a mock sign of the lot name.

The original lot, so called "Banana Lot" isn't an official name of the parking lot. On the MBTA site, it's still referred to its location: "Additional parking located near 2 FranklinStreet, Framingham Ma, 01702. "

David Perry is an expert in all things going on with the Worcester/Framingham MBTA line. Check out the Framingham Station: Soft Opening for new Parking Lot post that he wrote about this weekend.

Here's my contribution, couple of photos taken of the area before the lot has officially opened.

Station View 2014 vs 2017

Side By Side
Same view from the Framingham Station pedestrian overpath.

Parking Lot View - 2017

NewWide2017.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

May 21, 2017

Illegal to take Photographs of train tracks

Did you know that it's Illegal to take pictures on the train tracks?

This past week, I took a photo of the removed fence in Framingham and uploaded to Twitter.

A few minutes later I got this surprising response:

Was I really out of line. Turns out that I was.

Union Pacific Alert Photographers

In 2013, Union Pacific Railroad and Operation Lifesaver put out a press release encouraging photographers not to use train tracks as their settings. The press release contains lots of facts on why it's very dangerous to use train tracks for photo sessions.

It's Illegal to take Photos of Train Tracks

Why it's Illegal? Your trespassing on private property. In order for you to take the picture, you have to be trespassing. In Massachusetts, trespassing on train tracks might be fined $100 (Chapter 218, Section 218):
Whoever knowingly, without right is present, stands, walks, or rides a bicycle, snow vehicle, recreational or other vehicle on the right-of-way, bridge, or other property of, or used or controlled by any railroad corporation, except at a highway or other authorized grade crossing and except on rights-of-way formally abandoned pursuant to state or federal law and no longer owned by said railroad corporation or rights-of-way owned by said railroad corporation but which have been converted or leased specifically for use as a bicycle or walking path in accordance with state or federal laws, shall be fined $100 or shall be required to perform a total of 50 hours of community service which may include service in the operation lifesaver program, so-called. Any person violating this section may be arrested without a warrant by any police officer, including railroad police, and proceeded against according to law.

Operation Lifesaver

According to Operation Lifesaver, a group that educates the public about rail safety, 16 Americans have been killed and 5 injured in photography-related train track incidents.

May 14, 2017

New Enforcement being Issued at MBTA Commuter Parking lot

On a private commuter group that I am on, there has been reports that commuters have gotten tickets on their cars.

MBTA Parking Board

Did you know that MBTA Parking Police can write you a ticket for an expired inspection sticker?

According to the list of ticketable offenses, the MBTA police can also write up a ticket for not renewing your car inspection. Its a $50 fine!

Note: If a Boston Police Office was to ticket you for the same offense, it would only be a $40 fine. Not exactly sure why it would be more in the MBTA Parking Lot.

Insurance Citation Points

What's worst is that it counts as a point towards your insurance.

In Massachusetts, if you get a ticket for an expired vehicle inspection sticker it is the equivalent of a moving violation.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Insurance, surcharge points are incurred if you:

  • Cause an at-fault accident
  • Convicted of or pay a fine for a traffic law violation
  • Aassigned to an alcohol education program

An expired inspection sticker is considered "paying a fine for a traffic law violation."

A $50 ticket results increased insurance costs for 6 years! If you have a perfect driving record, that can amount to about a 20% increase (!!) the first three years. The premium will go down for the following three years.

Why all the recent tickets?

Are more people forgetting to renew their car inspections?

Probably not.

Massachusetts is facing a revenue shortfall in 2017 and there is speculation that the police have increased fine enforcement. The fiscal year ends next month.

Members of the private commuter group are speculating that a memo was sent to the MBTA Parking enforcement team to check for inspection stickers to help make up for lost revenue.

November 13, 2016

New Pedestrian Crossing Warning Sign

This week a new warning sign went up at the Framingham MBTA station, notifying commuters that it?s illegal crossing the tracks. The sign is part of the continued attempt by the MBTA to notify users that this is not a legal crossing.

Framingham MBTA Sign

However, nobody was paying attention to the sign. I saw many commuters continue to cross the tracks. The sign is barely noticeable for most people crossing the tracks from the Banana Parking lot. When commuters approach the tracks they look both ways, and not at any sign on the fence

The law being referenced on the Framingham track sign 160 s218:

Whoever knowingly, without right is present, stands, walks, or rides a bicycle, snow vehicle, recreational or other vehicle on the right-of-way, bridge, or other property of, or used or controlled by any railroad corporation, except at a highway or other authorized grade crossing and except on rights-of-way formally abandoned pursuant to state or federal law and no longer owned by said railroad corporation or rights-of-way owned by said railroad corporation but which have been converted or leased specifically for use as a bicycle or walking path in accordance with state or federal laws, shall be fined $100 or shall be required to perform a total of 50 hours of community service which may include service in the operation lifesaver program, so-called. Any person violating this section may be arrested without a warrant by any police officer, including railroad police, and proceeded against according to law.

It's interesting that the law specifically mentions "walks" and "stands." It appears that it's perfectly legal for users to run or hop across the tracks. (Don't try to challenge that!)

I feel that the MBTA has a couple of options to reduce pedestrians from crossing the tracks:

  • Open up the new Parking Lot - In April, the new parking lot in Framingham will open. At that point, the pedestrian access point by the Concord Street will close. Until the lot opens, the MBTA should create a pedestrian path that users can follow and open up the gate by the pedestrian over path.
  • Change the Peak Trains to use Track 1 - By moving the peak trains to use the inside track, most pedestrians will not be crossing the tracks. Those that park on Waverly Street would simply use the pedestrian bridge since that would be the easier route to use.

June 4, 2016

MBTA Arrivial times in May 2016

Each morning I catch the same P508 train from Framingham. In May 2016, my "arriving to work" time has improved almost every day during the month:

May2016 Working

I tracked my arrival time by using the If this than that application on my iPhone. I use the popular "Track you work hours" recipe to record when I arrive and leave work. It automatically records when I arrive at my office every morning. I have had this enabled since November 18, 2015.

Usually I don't look at it, but I thought it would be interesting to see the data since the schedule was changed during the last week of the month. It does look like the new schedule is getting me to work quicker.

2016 Year-to-Date Chart

2016Chart_sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

During school vacation week in February, I had to take a later train. That's why the arrival times were high for three days. On March 3rd, I had to take the later p514 train, that accounts for the latest arrival time during this period.

The purple trend line shows that the MBTA seems to be heading in the right direction with getting the trains to show up on time.

February 22, 2016

Amtrak Signal Issue

Last Thursday, the MBTA had a sticky situation where they were not able to get trains to South Station. This was because of Amtrak signal issue at South Station.

Amtrak notified the MBTA of the situation at 6 am, and the MBTA designated alternative stations where passengers could disembark the Commuter Rail trains. The real mess for many commuters was during the evening rush where many trains were canceled.

I created this graphic just to make light of the situation.

MBTA

Five Key lessons that I learned:

  • Know what tracks your train is likely to arrive. At Back Bay, the announcer didn't always announce when trains were arriving.
  • At Back Bay, you should know where the doors are likely to open. Experience pays. If you're unsure, ask someone that is standing near the tracks.
  • If you know the train is going to be busy, find a seat as close to the door as you can.
  • Know the stops. The conductors didn't announce any of the stops. If you're unsure where you are, simply open up a map program on your smart phone and see where you are.
  • Help other's around you if you can. You may encounter a few new riders on your journey. Why not make it a fun trip for them?

The situation at South Station was fixed by the Friday morning commute and all was normal again.

February 13, 2016

MBTA Coat Hangers

CoatHangers.jpg

A practical suggestion to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) or whoever is designing the next commuter rail train: install more hideaway hooks throughout the train.

Make these hooks high enough so that when people need to hang suits or jackets that it's well off the floor. The floors do get wet very often in the summer and spring.

Making the hooks hideaway ensures that they won't get in the way when people are leading against the wall.

This idea came about when I recently had to bring a suit to work and couldn't find a place to hang my jacket. I look all around where I was standing and couldn't find a place to hang it for the duration of my commute.

The MBTA should have hideaway hanger hooks along the wall in the loading area of each car. Ideally, the hooks should be strong enough to hold bags.

This is a simple request that won't cost a lot to implement, but certainly will add value to riders.

November 29, 2015

10 Best Twitter Accounts To Follow For Framingham Commuters

If your new to the fun world of MBTA commuting, there are some Twitter accounts that you should absolutely be following. Not only will you be informed on what's going on in the world of Framingham MBTA, but you may get some real live feed on why delays are happening.

So without further delay, here are the top 10 best Twitter accounts for Framingham Commuters:

  • @N42_21_W71_04 - Dave seems to have the inside knowledge of what's going on. He has a great Blog and sometimes seem to know more about what's going on than the people running the individual trains.
  • @mbta_cr - Live Feed from the MBTA control tower!
  • @mbta_alerts - Breaking news about MBTA
  • @drummosa - Tweets about train issues from Worcester to Boston.
  • @framinghamline - CodeforBoston runs this active Twitter feed.
  • @SethDRobertson - from #Maine to #Boston, from #Science to #HigherEducation. He catches the train around Newtonville.
  • @theFram - Framingham Patch tends to have some MBTA coverage
  • @universalhub - Gets some information from various riders on train delays. They cover general Boston things, but usually will have good coverage on the MBTA when things go bad.
  • @VPCloudCarl - Good Tweets about the MBTA status.
  • @noladrex - Tends to tweet late train arrivals.

I would recommend searching twitter for 'MBTA Framingham' or searching for the train that you particularly take such as 'MBTA f508.'

In addition, should you be stuck on a train that isn't moving, you could use the twitter feature to show who is posting near your current locations. Mashable has a great post about 9 Ways to Find Twitter Users in Your Town.

November 17, 2015

Commuter Rail Parking

Parking at the Framingham MBTA station has picked up. All of a sudden, there isn't any available parking before the 7:44 train. I am not sure what has spark the increase demand, especially at the middle of month.

This morning I saw a few commuters drive away in frustration, while other drivers were parking illegally just so they could catch the train to get to work on time.

Before getting off the train this morning, the conductor told the people waiting to get off that she remembered when it was very crowded last winter and she was unable to move. Perhaps more people are now taking the train because the weather is getting colder.

If your new to the Framingham MBTA - Welcome! Your best bet for monthly parking is still at the Pearl Street Garage which is located next to the Eagles All-American Grill.

Currently there are plenty of parking spaces - the first floor does even fill up. As an added bonus, you don't need to worry about the shoveling off snow after a long day at work.

You can find out all about the Pearl Street Parking Garage on the Town of Framingham website.

September 29, 2015

p508 Train Adventure

Taking the P508 from Framingham can be an adventure - sometimes.

Today was my first day on how this can be a frustrated commute. (Based on Twitter post by other users, it appears that the P508 is cursed.) This morning started with this 4am tweet from the MBTA:

When I arrived at the Framingham platform, about 4 minutes before the train was to arrive, I saw that the train would be 45 minutes late.

Instantly I thought that I better stay on track 1, and wait for the p507 train. The p507 train normally scheduled to arrive at 7:51, it waits at the track for 15 minutes and then becomes the p510 to Boston.

I tweeted several people, some on the p508 train and they all confirmed my theory. Dave, N42_21_W71_04, sent me a great link to watch the two incoming trains to see what train would be arriving first. While the

The P507 train was the first to arrived at the station, however the conductor told everyone that the P508 train would be the next train into Boston. This caused the crowd to rush over the pedestrian bridge back to track 2.

About 10 minutes later the P508 train pulled into the Framingham train station. I boarded the second to last passenger cab and discovered plenty of available seats on the train. In fact, as we continue to the the next couple of stops all the passengers were able to find seats.

When I was on the train, I saw this tweet and I don't know if this was one of the reasons for the delays this morning:

The p508 train arrived at Back Bay around 9am, about 30 minutes late. Dave tweeted:

My lesson learn this morning is to pay attention to the signs at the train station. The sign indicated that Track 2 would be the next train to Boston. Even thou that another train was going to arrive on Track 1, the MBTA was going to hold that train so the express train would go ahead.

The late train caused a lot of problems for the remaining peak trains on the Framingham/Worcester schedule. Not only were all the passengers on the 508 trains late, but so were those awaiting for the p510, p512 and p514.