If you follow my blog you know that I am civically engaged. There are many ways to engage civically, and I choose to share my ideas in letter for with decision makers. I have yet to experience that my engagement has made much of a difference, but I continue to hope that it will. I believe in doing instead of complaining and the following letter is an example of just that. I hope it inspires YOU to start engaging by sharing your ideas wherever you think they are needed. My other letters like this are found under the category “Civic Engagement“. I hope you enjoy.
My recent letter to the T:
In this letter I express 3 concerns. The first being quite specific and the others more general.
The first and most specific concern is the lack of on time performance of outbound buses in the late evening from forest hills.
My most recent example occurred:
Bus # 34/34E
Friday November 30th
I approached the driver at 12:18A to find out why we had not yet departed and was told in a flippant manner that he had to “wait for the last train”. When I asked why there was a scheduled time of 12:15A when there was no plan to leave on time I was told that the schedule indicated this with a “w” next to the scheduled time. Flashing the bus lights, the driver called over the “man in the white shirt” and the man (T employee) just nodded as if to say… “that’s correct”.
Later reviewing the schedule I discovered that the 34e 12:15A bus *does not* have a “w” next to it. This indicates to me that both the driver and “the man in the white shirt” do not know the schedule. This lack of attention to the detail of the schedule is yet another instance in which I have observed of a general lack of care by the T staff to run on schedule.
This instance indicates to me that the high importance of timely, reliable service has not been communicated to all T employees – especially drivers/operators.
My second concern is in the lack of pride I observe in T employees. I frequently observe a slumped over, “whatever” attitude. This includes the above account. The crashes that have occurred over the past couple of years due to driver error are also an indication of this lack of pride and attention to detail. I sincerely hope that new leadership will implement an attitude adjustment. With the great benefits and high salary, along with the knowledge of the important service that every T employee is a part of which effects over 1 million riders a day, one would think that there is much to take pride in! Can pride in a job properly done be cultivated again by the T?
My final concern is that the T is not providing exact schedules and does not seem to be utilizing modern means to improve their efficiency. Next to safety, scheduled, timely service is the most important part of a transit system. With GPS technology, satellite synchronization of clocks, and the ease with which data can now be analyzed, it is unacceptable that the T has not designed a way to have all service, including the subways, on a publicly available schedule with exact times. This schedule would not only be observed as a departure time at the end and beginnings of the lines, but also along the route. This would mean that occasionally the driver would have to stop and wait along the route or underground. On the bus routes I believe this would not only increase ridership, but also would increase safety, especially at night or in low traffic times. I have been on multiple evening bus rides where the driver reaches speeds of 45+mph in a 30mph zone. It is unsafe for those on the street as well as for those riders that are standing and holding on the the pole for dear life.
Perhaps each bus does have a GPS tracking device? Again, with the availability of data analysis, it would be easily doable to track the location of the vehicles for scheduling data as well as the speed of drivers which would allow for the issue of warnings and ultimately pink slips to those that do not offer the highest level of service and safety.
I sincerely hope that these concerns will be brought to the attention of Beverly Scott and that under her leadership will finally be addressed.
To summarize, I have reworded my concerns to be read as a list of goals:
1. Timely Service: The T will train employees to implement the schedule resulting in a transit system that is reliable. All T operators/drivers and managers will be provided with access to an accurate time keeping device. Each driver/operator will be provided with their schedule markers and will be responsible for keeping to their schedule, making timely service the personal responsibility of the driver/operator.
2. T Employee Pride Initiative: The T will undertake a “pride” campaign, training employees about the importance of their part in the greater Boston transit system. Employees will learn to enjoy the results of a job well done and will be encouraged to share their success stories within the organization. Awards will be given according to GPS stats gathered in the area of safety & timely service. Special individual initiative will also be rewarded when employee suggestions are implemented system wide having a meaningful effect toward the T’s core values. Positive customer comments will also be rewarded.
3. Publicly available schedule: The T will release a publicly available schedule with *exact times* for all T service including the subway lines. All posted schedules both online and in hard copy will be easily accessible for all riders and will be user friendly. Using GPS and other Tracking Data, the T will fine tune it’s schedule to become more reliable.
Thank you for considering my concerns & related goals. Having traveled around the world enjoying transit systems in Europe and Asia I have developed a love and passion for public transit and it is my sincerest hope that my beloved city of Boston will someday rise to the ranks of other world class cities delivering quick, reliable, safe, world class transit.