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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pyrrhic victory

Memo to Medford and Somerville residents: be careful what you wish for. You think the good news is the Green Line is coming. The bad news is the Green Line is coming.

And for all the people who have complained about how long it has taken to fix Cambridge Street down near Mass. General, have no fear, it will happen soon. Why? Because the Blue Line-Red Line link is coming to tear up the streets once more.

Seriously, the state's decision to settle long-standing lawsuits and upgrade public transportation is significant. Unfortunately, the reality is turning these projects over to the MBTA sends shivers down my spine -- particularly Green Line expansion.

What do you do when a method of transportation is already overpriced and unreliable? Why raise the price and extend it the service so it takes longer to get from Point A to Point B!

The trips down Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street and Huntington Avenue are already excruciatingly long. Lots of passengers and lots of traffic lights that don't work in sync means people can walk faster between stops than the trains can move.

Add new fare cards that require a rocket scientist to figure out how to properly insert them into the fareboxes and you have a recipe for chaos. Require outbound fares so that passengers must shove past bulky backpacks down narrow aisles to get to the one available exit door is a guarantee of insurrection (and dropping ridership).

Throw in the inability to buy quality vehicles for the Green and Blue lines and you have a profile of an agency totally incapable of planning (or providing quality service at reasonable prices).

So what do you do in this situation? Give them more responsibility of course.

I suspect the Somerville and Medford extension will be more like the Riverside line (at least I hope so) -- limited stops along a dedicated rail corridor. But given the brilliance of people who brought you outbound fares, I strongly suspect we will see trains that run from Medford out to Riverside and 128. Or worse yet, Boston College.

After all, this is a system that requires you to change trains if you are going from Comm. Ave. to the Cambridgeside Galleria because only the E Line -- which merges into the main line at Copley -- runs to Lechmere now.

So good people of Medford and Somerville -- you got what you wanted. Now be prepared to live with it, like the rest of us.

We failed in fighting the fare increase. But let's get Danny on the Purple Line.


Blogger Gregg said...

I agree with you on many of the issues. I live in Brighton and having the Green line is like having no service at all. THe biggest bottlenecks are between Kenmore Square and Park Street. The D line has no obstacles between Riverside and Kenmore. It takes only 15 minutes to ride from Cleveland Circle to Fenway. It takes another 20 to 30 minutes to get from Fenway to Park. What a joke. Contrast that with the 14 minute ride from Alewife to Park.

November 30, 2006 4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, and if you want to go to the Galleria, 99% of the time you get on the first train that only goes to Government Center. If the line is actually running and you don't have to go get a bus, next train comes, it only goes to North Station. Unless I'm in a real hurry or carrying 400 lbs of stuff, it's always faster to walk. Always.

December 01, 2006 2:55 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

I firmly believe the worst line is the one that you ride. In other words, they all stink.

December 01, 2006 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The green line extension to Somerville and Medford can be a success. It will require strong community attention to the planning phase. To read a study that addresses planning and siting issues, go to www.medfordgreenline.org and click on "download station study."

May 08, 2007 9:14 AM  

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