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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, May 27, 2009

45 seconds for safety

Gov. Deval Patrick has ordered a long overdue review of the MBTA's safety practices. Hopefully it will include the No. 1 safety problem: T General Manager Dan Grabauskas.

Smilin' Dan insists an automated crash avoidance system will slow down operation of the Green Line during peak periods -- when trains enter and leave stations every 30 seconds. As a non-rider, Grabauskas can be forgiven for not knowing that usually happens only when trains bunch up because nothing has entered or left a station for five minutes before all coming at once.

As a Green Line rider, I'd prefer a system that smooths out the gaps in arrival times and ensures that the trains don't bunch up and crash into each other.

The Globe also reported that, after some initial kinks, light rail vehicles in San Francisco's Muni system now enter and leave stations 75 seconds apart. I'd be willing to linger an extra 45 seconds in sumptuous Boylston Street station to make sure my trolley isn't going to ram another one.

What I really would like to see is a system that changes the rule of thumb that says the slowest line is the one you are riding. One that prevents a stream of Heath Street cars in a row when you are heading to Cleveland Circle.

I'd even pay a higher fare for that one. Talk about a safe bet I won't need to deliver on.

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