Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The T is sort of fixing East-West (!)

Back in September, some of the #10PeopleOnTwitter pointed out that there was something amiss with the T's end-of-service procedure (called "East-West", because it's when the trains leave Park to the east and the west). What should be a relatively quick process was frequently taking more than half an hour. Looking in to the schedule, I realized it was because a certain train from Heath had a guaranteed connection at Park, and was scheduled 20 minutes after the other trains, every train—and every downstream bus—was delayed.

So I wrote a blog post, with some help from a variety of people on Twitter (with screen grabs, coding and the like), put some numbers to it, and let it rip. Jim Aloisi wrote about it, the T took issue with the numbers, Jim shot back at them, and the issue was left unresolved: for the most part, it seemed like the T was uninterested in something which would both save them money and create a better experience for their passengers. No one reached out to us (other than to yell on the Internet at Jim) and it was left at the T saying "nothing to see here; this isn't a problem."

And yet … this week, the Fiscal Management Control Board announced that, as of the new schedule rating at the end of the month, the 12:47 car from Heath Street will no longer have a guaranteed connection at Park; instead, the 12:32 car will. This should mean that the E train will no longer be guaranteed to hold up the process (other lines still might, of course). While us Twitter folk certainly wouldn't mind the recognition, I think we're all glad that the T is going to make this change. So, this is kind of a big deal. Yes, we will be monitoring it after the first of the year to see how the changes play out.

(My ask: that the T have some sort of petition system for this. If you write a petition, and you get x number of people to sign on, they at least give you a response. There are a lot of things that riders may see that management does not. My other ask: take the savings from this, and run late night service.)

Update 1/21/17: based on preliminary data, the average delay experienced by trains and buses has fallen by an average of 12 minutes over the first 19 days of the new schedule. To put it another way, from April to December of 2016, the last trains left Park Street before 1:10 a.m. 6% of the time; since then, the last trains have left before 1:10 84% of the time. A further data analysis will follow.


  1. Your "ask" seems a bit strange.
    Anyone who writes a letter to the T should get an answer. Is there reason to think that is not the case?

    It's one thing for the White House to pick and choose to whom it responds, because it receives an otherwise unmanageable volume of correspondence. The same is not true of a regional transportation agency, unless something is really out of whack.

    But the corollary is people actually have to ask the T. A public tweet isn't the same as a letter.

    1. Tell me who to send a letter to? It's a black hole.

      The point of this is to build a constituency. The idea is that they have limited bandwidth, and if they had to respond to every stupid (and yes, stupid, I've been to public meetings) request nothing would ever get done. Have a problem with your bus line or bus stop? Get a few other people on board.