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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Put up or shut up time

Here's a modest proposal for all the public transportation "experts" who think the firing of Dan Grabauskas as MBTA general manager was a political attack on the manager of a smoothly efficient system.

Get out of your cars and try relying on the T for one month for all your transportation needs and check back with us. For one month, starting when everyone comes back from vacation, give this a try.

Take a bus to the commuter rail station or try to find a place in the parking lot. Plunk down the cash, hop on board. If you get on far enough up the line you may get a seat. They finally seem to have fixed the problems that made commuter rail cars rolling saunas so you probably catch a break there.

Just make sure you pick a train that will get you to work on time. That means leave a margin of error for the trains that don't show up or are running late because of "mechanical problems." More on that in a moment.

Now use the Green Line from North Station or the Red Line from South Station to get to the office. And rely on the subway system for all out of office appointments. Again, remember to leave time to compensate for the "disabled train" or the random electrical explosion.

Plan for the fact it can take one one hour from Packard's Corner to Park Street, against evening rush hour, trapped underground and unable to tell people you will be a half hour late.

At least you don't have to worry about the trolley driver texting and ignoring the red lights.

Now reverse the process to go home. Pack into Park Street for the ride back to the train stations. Cram into those subway cars, get to the homebound commuter train. It's not convenient based on your appointment schedule? Tough. It's running late? Tough.

Better yet, ride the bus system. Grab a schedule that says the bus runs every x number of minutes. Really? Learn that buses (and Green Line trains) run in packs. Two, three or four bunched up, followed by lengthy gaps where people pack together like cattle.

Comfy on that bus? Probably not, but hey, that's life on the T. Become very familiar with the person jammed next to you and be grateful they believe in bathing even if they think MP3 players should be played so loud that you can hear it to.

The bus you're on doesn't get you where you need to go? Transfer to another one. Or two. Late for that appointment? Tough.

Learn the joys of the CharlieCard or CharlieTicket (really, who names a fare system after a mythical character who couldn't afford a fare increase and was doomed to "ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston")?

Admire the collection of bottles, cans and discarded newspapers that litter the tracks on outdoor Green Line "stations." Or the overflowing cans inside stations that resemble saunas in summer unless you stand directly in front of a noisy fan that blows dirt in your face.

Experience all those joys and tell me the system is a finely tuned machine and Dan Grabauskas was a victim of a Patrick putsch.

And while I agree that the $327,000 severance package was outrageous, I have an idea where the cash can come from. The governor just gave you $1.5 million back by vetoing your cowardly end run around his initial veto of the zoo extortion fund.

Remember, I'm not asking you to abandon your car with the legislative plates that give you lots of leeway in parking. And I'm only asking for one month, not 12 months like many of the people you claim to represent.

Try it. You won't like it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ride the Red Line all the time, the T's my primary mode of transportation, and quite frankly I think you're being a jackass.

The problem is and always has been the Legislature. That simple. They're the ones who broke the T's funding, they're the ones who continue to refuse to fund it because of political cowardice, they're the ones who order it to build, build, build and then refuse to pay for it. Dan Grabauskas may not have been perfect, but look what he had to deal with.

August 08, 2009 10:31 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

I thought we all believe in accountability? The Legislature is accountable for the horrid fiscal situation they piled on the T but not the day-to-day operations.

The regular breakdowns,cost overrruns and construction screwups -- not to mention the missing culture of safety, as the NTSB called it -- is the fault of the T's "leadership."

Grabauskas did a pretty poor job -- even with the limited tools he had work with.

Name calling doesn't solve much either.

August 08, 2009 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone one who blames Grabauskas for all of the T's woes lacks a genuine understanding of the crisis. Every single problem stems from one source: lack of adequate funding. Under the existing circumstances, Jack Welch couldn't do a better at the T than Grabauskas.

August 08, 2009 11:25 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

I found that summary masterful. As I read it, I was reminded of my daily commute constantly. But you did forget to mention sitting on a subway platform for an hour waiting for the right train to show up, only to be told by the driver to get off because you can't quite fit behind that white line.

August 08, 2009 11:54 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

The point I am trying to make -- and may have obscured with my description of the worst of the MBTA nightmares -- is the legislative leaders who claim the dismissal was purely political have no personal knowledge about commuting by public transportation.

I think they need to walk a mile in our shoes before they simply call it political.

And yes, that lack of daily knowledge is also an important factor in the how and why the saddled the T with debt. They are far from blameless.

But they are also clueless about day-to-day reality.

August 08, 2009 12:19 PM  
Blogger Mark B said...

So now all the problems you cited will go away.


August 08, 2009 2:12 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Mark B., Nope. But maybe we can start talking about them and trying to fix them rather than dealing with the political charges that distract us from that task.

August 08, 2009 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Jason Poulikos said...

Republicans charge 'politics' when they disagree with proposed changes and charge 'ideological' reasons when others disagree with what they propose... it is all very sickening.

Seriously, if you don't like 'liberal massachusetts' then leave - no one is begging you to stay. Better yet, move to Texas

August 08, 2009 7:31 PM  

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