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Green Line Update Teases Improvements Enabled by Tracking Technology

Green Line Update Teases Improvements Enabled by Tracking Technology

As a corollary to our guest contributor post on the disappointing improvements and issues with Commonwealth Avenue, we have a few (much delayed) updates about the T's more progressive plans to improve transit along the corridor.

Back in June, I had the pleasure of attending a forum on Green Line issues hosted by the MBTA and facilitated greatly by Senator Brownsberger. The presentation included updates on the primary issues afflicting the Green Line and its dependent riders as outlined by Brian Kane, MBTA Director of Policy, Performance Management & Process Re-Engineering and former budget analyst with the MBTA Advisory Board.

Others present at the meeting included leading MBTA staff that Dr. Scott heralded as subject matter experts to ensure questions could be answered directly by the most appropriate person from the agency. Top MBTA management included:

  • Dominick Tribone for questions on information systems
  • Bill McClellan, Director of Green Line Operations
  • Laura Brelsford, Deputy Director of System-Wide Accessibility
  • Melissa Dullea, Director of Planning & Schedules

Mr. Kane broke down the issues into 5 key areas and highlighted the improvements the T is aiming to tackle over the long run.

Comm Ave: from auto mile to people mile

Comm Ave: from auto mile to people mile

Nearly a century ago, Commonwealth Avenue from Kenmore Square, heading west to Packard's Corner, was home to over a hundred automobile dealers and associated vendors. For much of the twentieth century, while riding the trolley, you would have passed showroom after showroom, parking lot after parking lot, all calling out for you to buy a car and drive away.

Podcast 01 - Green Line updates; Bridj luxury bus service

Podcast 01 - Green Line updates; Bridj luxury bus service

Transit Matters co-editor Marc Ebuna joins me for this special inaugural episode focusing on the Green Line. Following a recent public meeting with MBTA staff, Marc shares the latest Green Line initiatives including vehicle tracking (real-time train arrival info), signal priority, stop consolidation, three-car trains, accessibility and fare collection. Also, construction on the Green Line Extension to Somerville and Medford is moving full-steam ahead.

Lede photo credit: MassDOT Flickr

 

LivableStreets hosts a T-riffic night of T Trivia

WP_20130328_001 The turnout for this evening's LivableStreets first (hopefully annual, semi-annual, quarterly, or even monthly) T trivia night was on-par with what programming manager Kara Oberg had expected, but definitely filled the room on the lower level of Lir on Boylston St. On the evening's agenda: drinks, food, networking, and community-building.

'I just met these people an hour ago', said a student among a group that seemed to have known each other for years. The group, itself, a perfect mix of the attendees this evening: students, train enthusiasts, and professionals across every trade.

At the adjacent table, former LivableStreets board member, current Walk Boston board member, and graphic designer Nina Garfinkle sat with David Loutzenheiser, transportation planner of MAPC, and several others. A mix of who's who of transportation advocacy and trivia lovers, the event seemed like it was only missing a visit from MassDOT secretary Richard Davey and newly appointed MBTA GM Dr. Beverly Scott.

The trivia questions ranged from MBTA triviata to political and financial issues. One of the first round of questions included facts about the Boston's Green Line being the most heavily used light rail line in the US and the origin of the T's iconic logo of a 'T' in a circle.

WP_20130328_002Artie, a transportation engineer from HDR Engineering, brought in many of his friends to form his team. A designer of the very streets we walk, drive, and bike on or travel rapidly underneath, he was very 'new school' of those within transportation engineering, many of whom are notorious for taking an auto-throughput-first view of street design. Upon mention of 'sidewalk bumpies', he politely enlightened me of their more correct industry term: detectable warning pads. His consultancy work with the city of Boston and its outlying areas has even brought him into the engineering and design of innovative mid-block crossing notification strips for the visually impaired, a feature often not needed in or overlooked by most walkable American cities because of their lack of mid-block pedestrian crossings.

His most interesting insight was something that many miss when talking about re-urbanisation: I think that many disabled people will start moving into cities because of their ability to provide [the disabled] services and accessibility that suburbs simply can't provide in order to give them independence. In areas outside the T, mobility and independence can be very costly and time-consuming for the disabled, as shown by The Ride's growing costs and hurdles as compared to the rest of the MBTA's operations. Even as the fixed routes of the T have become more accessible, affording the disabled and elderly better independent mobility, other systems have been improving their accessible services, like the MTA in New York and the CTA in Chicago that have started piloting newer, more flexible vehicles designed specifically for accessible door-to-door transit services.

A number of student organisers from Northeastern were also present, including Justin Bensan, Daniel Morrissey, Alexa Torres, Jake Berman. The group is in the process of creating a 'transportation club' at Northeastern as a means of bringing forward mobility issues at their school and building a community around alternative transportation issues. Led by Jake Berman, president of the nascent club, and Justin Bensan, founder of the Northeastern branch of Students Against T Cuts, the group wants to build the club on the momentum from last year's unified protests against severe service cuts and advocacy of more balanced transportation funding.

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In the hopes that this might be a more regular event, I asked Kara about the next T trivia night. Of all the planning that had to come together for the evening, she noted the most time-consuming was coming up with all the trivia questions. That said, I challenge the state's decision-makers to come to LivableStreets' next T trivia night to see how much they actually know about the system that drives the economic engine of the Commonwealth.

Not everyone has to be a transportation expert or historian on the T, but without an appreciation for it, we may as well be blind to the T's funding problems as we would a spewing, backed up toilet.