Tag: MBTA

MBTA Stuff

So for the past few weeks I’ve been riding the Providence to Boston MBTA commuter. And I find myself searching out a car that has WiFi every time I ride.

Apparently MBTA is the first transit company to install WiFi on its commuter rail. I think it serves a dual purpose though since this has also happened at about the same time they rolled out the Charlie Card. I was trying to think how they could use a stored value Charlie Card on a commuter rail and then it hit me, just use a wireless device that the MBCR (Mass Bay Commuter Rail) employees can swipe the card against. The side benefit is we commuting schlubs get WiFi out of the deal.

Then from Boston I take the Red Line down to Braintree. Yes it’s a long commute but well worth it.

Anyhow here’s what I noticed. They tend to treat the older Red Line cars more gently. Those are the ones that are white with the red stripe. The newer cars are stainless steel with a red stripe at the bottom. The newer cars also have the LCD destination signs and for stop announcements there are the red LED signs and the automated voice. Interestingly that picture is taken at the station where I get off, Braintree. Both sides are used for inbound so that lower part that says “Next Train” lights red. When a train is about to leave a loud bell is rung and you’ve got about 30 or 40 seconds to get on the train before it starts for Boston.

As I was saying, the older cars are treated more gently. They’re rattle traps so they tend to keep the speeds under 40MPH, while they push the newer cars up past 50MPH.

I also found out an interesting fact. They only have a three hour window to do track repairs on that line. The service starts off at about 5AM and ends at roughly 1AM. So you’d think they have four hours but they have to make sure all the cars are in the barn and then power off the track, then roll the repair car out and then do their work.

Part of the reason is because the subway system in Boston is the oldest in the nation.

But it makes me wonder, how did Boston end up with such a great transit system and Providence got the shit end of the stick? Up until about 1950 we had trolleys that ran on power supplied by overhead catenary and the train station in Providence was a hopping place right up until then. Here’s a photo of one of the tracked trolleys and then one of the trackless trolleys in 1946. By 1950 they were all gone.

But then that’s when the highway projects started, and GM and Standard Oil started National City Lines to get transit companies to use buses that burned diesel and went through tires like crazy. And of course it’s why RI’s transit authority RIPTA is in such dire straits today.

I’d like to see the MBTA absorb RIPTA, along with GATRA and SEPTA. Make it one humongous regional system. The MBTA commuter already runs into Providence and soon it will run to TF Green airport in Warwick. Plans are also on the board for stations in Wickford and Westerly. That will be nice.

But it’s going to take a while for that to happen.

The commute to work.

Generally speaking the commute to work isn’t too bad but I found out this week it does have its moments.

Two days ago the train was stopped at the Rte. 128 station for a medical emergency. That delayed us by about 20 minutes.

Then this evening it was delayed because of track congestion. But this time I was only about a ten minute delay before we got back to Providence.

The MBTA Red Line runs like a clock though. Those subway cars can hit 50MPH which is quite fast for a small train. But because it stops so often it takes 20 minutes to cover 12 miles.

Been paying cash for everything since it didn’t make sense to drop $250 on a pass midway through the month. Of course I’ll probably spend $250 for two weeks but hey, the job pays enough to cover that.

Got a Charlie Card but I can only use that on the subways or buses. The commuter rail isn’t yet setup for it but they will be shortly. They’re rolling out WiFi on the commuter trains little by little so its likely they’ll use the WiFi on the trains to connect devices that can read and write Charlie Cards.

I also have a 3-track reader/writer. I’ll let your imagination run free there but I will tell you that the re loadable Charlie Card has already been hacked and I have in my possession the information necessary to deposit say $653 on my card. Not that I’ve done so, I’ve actually put about $40 on the card.

I do want to swipe through a few of the RIPTA change cards and things of that nature and see what I get. I bet that’s not secure either.