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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Grabauskas must go

It's time to put Dan Grabuaskas onto the next commuter rail train back to Ipswich. It's hard to comprehend why the Patrick administration, in moving to oust old-time GOP hacks like Steve Tocco and Mass. Turnpike Authority Board members, has left Grabauskas in place.

The Globe's latest look at the Terrible T focuses on commuter rail (you know the mode of transportation the head of the regional transportation authority shuns because "it tends not to be convenient for me.").

Here's the money quote:

"The bottom line is the bottom line. Customers don't care for the alphabet soup of the MBTA or MBCR. All they know is they're paying fares. They want to get to work on time. [But] as the owners, we're not getting what we're paying for."

While Grabauskas was speaking about a report showing commuter performance heading straight downward in October, he could have been speaking about virtually every segment of the transit system -- from Green Line trains that travel in pairs (followed by lengthy delays) and buses that operate in the same manner.

I don't ride the Red, Orange, Silver or Blue lines with any regularity, but I'm sure those riders have similar horrors.

And we, the real owners of the transportation through our fares and our taxes (remember, a penny of the sales tax is going to the system), are most definitely not getting what we are paying for.

Speaking of fares, why don't we, the paying public, have a right to know what the higher fares mean to the system's bottom line? We are now 11 months into the first year of the CharlieCard system and we have had no formal announcement of whether the higher fares have made a difference in the agency's bottom line.

Not to mention no idea of when they will actually implement the system in rational way (I can answer for Green Line outbound -- never).

For that matter, we really don't know what we are getting in the endless and seemingly motionless reconstruction of Green Line stations. Kenmore is at a minimum a year behind schedule, cold comfort walking through the giant puddles so graciously lined with stanchions so we could know how deep they really are. Why has the glass awning been in the same place for so long? Will they be done before yet another Red Sox season opens?

The fact they are trumpeting 2009 completions at Copley and Arlington (each under construction for probably a year if not longer) is pathetic.

We, the riding public, certainly know we're not getting what we pay for, we just don't know how much more that payment is. It is long past time for a full accounting of what the fare increases have brought -- both in actual dollars and in improved service, boarding and trip times.

And don't you find it convenient this report comes out as the great Thanksgiving exodus, complete with two-hour Mass. Pike backups, gets underway?

We've had more than enough proof that Grabauskas has had little positive impact on the system, save for his smiling face peering out from posters that he probably hopes will get him elected to statewide office some day.

The single biggest Thanksgiving gift Deval Patrick can give Massachusetts commuters is to get rid of this turkey. Stick him on the Purple Line to Ipswich and let him emulate Charlie: let him be the man who never returned.

SPECIAL SHOUT-OUT: To the operator of Green Line car 3831 on Comm. Ave. this morning for the spirit of the season. After running to catch the train while the traffic light was still red, I appreciate the fact that you chose to motion me to run to the front door of the first car, which was still open. Great customer service, pal. But sure enough, another train was about a minute behind. Happy Day, Turkey.

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Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

I'm on the Red Line. My neighbor told me that two weekends ago (I think) the red line trains were stopping at Kendall to put people on a shuttle over the river. But when he went over the bridge on a taxi, there was no work being done on the Longfellow bridge. Pretty frustrating to have everyone going to all the trouble of switching to shuttles if there's nothing happening on the bridge.

November 21, 2007 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you. I think Mr. Grabauskas has done a fine job. As a regular Green Line rider, I can say with certainty that service is the best its been in eight years. I also find that many of the subway stations look a lot cleaner and brighter than I can ever recall. He can't change the whole system overnight, but I defintely see signs of improvement.
I'm looking forward to seeing what else he accomplishes.

November 21, 2007 10:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

The bottom line is the bottom line. Customers don't care for the alphabet soup of the MBTA or MBCR.

I actually think we, as riders, should avoid this. I don't just want heads to roll, I want the right heads to roll. I want to know the root cause of the problem, who is responsible for it and what can be done to fix it.

Otherwise, I feel your anger.

November 21, 2007 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be careful what you wish for. Grabauskas is the most customer-friendly manager this state has ever seen. (Would you like to have the old Registry back?) Have you ever seen a state employee volunteer to take responsibility like this guy? Think Deval is looking for Romney appointees to keep? Your blog name says it all.

November 21, 2007 9:57 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Anon 10:00

I marvel at your experience over eight years of Green Line ridership. As I stare at the litter strewn tracks at my station, waiting for trains that never come, I am envious.

Anon 9:57

I remember the "customer-friendly" Registry that Grabuaskas ran too and NO I would not like to have it back. It's a heck of a lot easier to navigate now.

Funny, I didn't think politics entered into my observations on this one. I think the fact the head of the T doesn't ride the T because he doesn't find it convenient is a pretty basic statement of competency. How can he know what he's running when he doesn't experience it?

In fact, I would think the stereotype says liberals are more tolerant of big hulking, poorly run bureaucracies like the registry or the T. Don't let your own biases cloud your judgments.

November 22, 2007 6:49 AM  
Anonymous Train Rider said...

For the past fifteen years, I have commuted into Boston on MBTA buses, on both the Red and Orange lines, and for the last five years on the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line.
I think service across the board has declined.

The MBTA/MBCR should both be held accountable for their inability to manage in a fiscally responsible manner. I am tired of hearing excuses.

A solid public transit system is a critical component of the Commonwealth's future growth. If we cannot provide reliable and efficient public transportation, we will not encourage businesses to locate in population centers and we will not get more cars off our congested roads.

November 30, 2007 3:17 PM  

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