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Fully restoring Red Line service could take all summer, MBTA says

Damaged signal equipment at JFK/UMass

Damaged signal equipment at JFK/UMass a week ago.

The MBTA says that fully restoring the signaling equipment destroyed in the June 11 derailment at JFK/UMass will likely take until at least Labor Day, so that means riders will continue to need to allow extra time for their commutes.

But it could have been worse, the T says: "Because of the age of the system and the extent of the damage, initial restoration of the signal system was projected to take approximately one year."

Meanwhile, the T says it still does not know exactly why the derailment happened, although it has ruled out foul play, operator error and track problems:

After disassembling the car that derailed, MBTA personnel are in the process of determining potential causes of its failure through rigorous evaluations of the car’s components. Out of an abundance of caution, the MBTA conducted a rigorous inspection of all related components of all vehicles of the same type involved in the derailment. As of today, Friday, June 21, all vehicles of the same type involved in the derailment have been inspected.

The T says that until the signal systems are fully repaired, it has to have 50 workers manually switching trains through JFK/UMass, where the Braintree and Ashmont tracks diverge and come together.

This equipment controls the intricate system of track, signals, and switches where the Ashmont and Braintree branches diverge on the Red Line. Without the signal system, each Red Line train must be given permission to proceed from one station to the next with personnel along the tracks physically directing trains’ routing. While this limits train speeds as well as the total number of trains in service, this manual process is necessary to allow trains to move safely along tracks.

In addition to controlling the speed and frequency of Red Line trains traveling in passenger service, the signal system also plays a vital role in dispatching trains during the start of service each day.

As signal assets incrementally come back on line, it will lessen the need for manual operations, which in turn, will improve train speeds, allow the MBTA to increase the number of trains in service, and ultimately drive passenger wait times down toward levels that customers expect.

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Now all day long, Charlie stands in the station, (waiting) saying what will become of me.
How can I afford to take Uber to see my sister in Southie?

He may stand forever 'neath the streets of Boston
It’s the train service that never returned

Kinda hurts my wallet….

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Where has all the on-time service gone, long time passing...
Where has all the on-time service gone, long time ago.....

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Oh wait. Who will Charlie Faker fire this time?

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Voting closed 28

I'm so sad about the state of the T... sad and angry.

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Baker's Environmental Police, Revenue, and Transportation Depts are filled to the brim with donors, donor spouses, and donor siblings. He needs to clean house, starting with Pollack at the top. We can no longer allow (and afford) amateur hour at the DOT and T. Only experienced transportation professionals. Nothing else.

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The problem isn't Baker.

The problem is the amount of appointments that elected officials are allowed to make in MA.

This is a very longstanding problem.

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Before leading MassDOT, Patrick's transportation secretary Richard Davey had years of professional experience. Patrick's last and final MassDOT pick led the Red, Orange, and Indigo railcar charge with Beverly Scott. When the new trains are finally in use (2020?, 2025?) thank Patrick, Davey, and Bev Scott. Yes, before Davey, Gov Patrick made some terrible MassDOT picks, but admitted to the mistakes and quickly booted them in favor of Davey. Pollack has generated a mountain of errors, but Baker refuses to make a switch. Before MassDOT, Pollack yelled at officials, demanding they build her crazy CLF projects even if it meant bankrupting the state. Really, look it up. The differences between Patrick and Baker when it comes to MassDOT are clear.

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Who ran the Executive Office of Transportation before Davey? What was their background before getting the post?

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Trying to be coy?

I think it was Jim Aloisi, but also you're getting close to the creation of MassDOT when you go back to that point of time, which was rather messy. But I'm not sure what you're alluding to, either way.

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The head of the EOT is rarely an expert in transportation matters. Fred Salvucci was a notable exception. They are appointed due to political acumen. The head of the MBTA, on the other hand is usually someone with a transportation background (Ramirez being the notable exception) who quickly realizes that whoever is governor doesn’t share their love of the field.

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If enough people put pressure on Baker and Pollack and keep digging through their MBTA skeletons; we might see some changes at MassDOT, even before Governor Healey.

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Welcome to the club! I'm sad, angry and disgusted about the state of the T.

It's pitiful that the people who run the T keep increasing the fare without fixing the problems first. Had the people who run the T done the necessary and proper maintenance, the T wouldn't be having so many problems. That's why I take the Lyft when I have to go for appointments in town.

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Man, Weld's finance guy really fucked the MBTA for generations.

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Genuinely curious.

My displeasure mostly comes from how comparatively expensive the MBTA is compared to other US transit given the level of service: https://pioneerinstitute.org/better_government/how-to-save-the-mbta-over...

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Here's a good summary from a Redditor:

https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/bzhsz7/reminder_charlie_baker_i...

"As Secretary of Administration and Finance, Baker was the main architect of the Big Dig financing plan - the $5.8 billion dollar project that resulted in 21.93 billion in expenses (after interest payments) and left the MBTA with Billions of dollars in debt.

When the corrupt and poorly managed project went dramatically over budget, Baker set up GANs, or Grant Anticipation notes. These were investment vehicles backed by future federal highway dollars - and while they helped pay for the big dig at the time, the resulted in nearly 1 billion in underfunding for state transportation - per year.

This led to the eventual "forward funding" initiative that split the MBTA from the commonwealth of Massachusetts, with the intent of a self funded MBTA and balanced budget for MA transportation. To balance this budget? They transferred $3.2 Billion dollars of debt to the MBTA. In case you couldn't tell, this was a disaster - the MBTA was not able to fund itself, the debt continued to grow, and the problems continued to escalate."

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The sales tax revenue from forward funding fell well short of projections by hundreds of millions. Hence the annual "deficits" and fare hikes.

But no new taxes or fees I guess!

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Debt as a percentage of MBTA budget actually declined in the initial years of forward funding and was relatively low for over a decade. It wasn't until about 2013 when the T literally started falling to pieces that they started investing in new equipment and other capital projects. while the sales tax funding method didn't keep up with projections, the state stepped in after 2008 to fill the gap with two enormous annual supplemental funding programs.

Please go look at the MBTA's budget and income statement before spreading fake news.

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According to the MBTA itself, sales tax revenue did not keep up with projections.

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That is why the state added two massive annual supplemental payments to the MBTA's revenue stream. It's like saying my company sucks because I didn't get a COL raise but they started paying me a huge bonus and equity compensation and I'm still broke because I spent all the money on vacations.

They neglect to mention in that "white paper" (aka - political justification for more funding), that while the sales tax revenue lagged the 3% growth - their total revenue did indeed exceed 3% growth and debt as a percentage of revenue actually fell during that same time period. In fact debt as a percentage of revenue topped out at 31% just prior to forward funding. By 2015 it was down to about 22% of revenue. The T was not "Born Broke". They spent themselves into that situation.

And brining things up to date - since FY 2001 and the beginning of forward funding - the sales tax revenue for the T has grown about 2.9% vs. a projection of 3%, even though the original projection was made right before a recession and we soon after went through the Great Recession.

This is 100% on the T and 0% on Charlie Baker. Even his enemies have to admit that.

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Okay Mister Bootlicker.

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Facts suck.

Numbers suck more.

Especially when they show u r wrong.

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But I'm not buying Jeff B assertion that he was genuinely curious. He showed his hand when he linked to the Pioneer Institute, a right wing Koch-like think tank that wants to privatize the world.

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MassDOT can spend millions in Special Obligation Bonds (SOBs) for expedited and immediate repair. The DOT SOBs are committed elsewhere in the new budget. Hence, the growing behind the scenes fury at the golden dome

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Good thing I can take of myself and not depend on the city.

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How does it take an entire summer to fix this? This is a crisis, tens of thousands of commuters (or more?) are affected by this daily, platforms are so crowded that they are beyond unsafe, people are getting more aggressive and hostile every day trying to board with no system in place, and the trains are so packed, slow and overheated that there are daily reports of people passing out. Commuters count on this line, and many have constraints such as child care pick ups where they CAN'T simply add 20 minutes to either end of their commute or whatever the T is pretending is a reasonable solution. Not for 3 months.

Naive question, but isn't there any sort of state of emergency which could be declared which would allow for funding, staffing, expertise, equipment, or whatever's needed to get this fixed sooner? If they were asking people to be inconvenienced for a few days it would be one thing (and something we've pretty much grown to expect and tolerate), but the failure of an entire line for 3 months bumps this up to a crisis. At the very least they need to better manage the manual signaling process if it's going to go on for months, with someone managing boarding queues at each station during rush hours, and regular verbal announcements of when the next train is expected if the countdown clocks aren't working. With the chaos and frustration on the platforms now it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or worse.

Ugh- I'm all for cybah's suggested sit-in from yesterday. Count me in for a few shifts.

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It’s all going to be fine in 30 years so stop complaining.

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Yeh, right!

It’s all going to be fine in 30 years so stop complaining.

Ha ha ha ha ha!

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Perfect time for fare hikes

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As someone who's worked on custom installation wiring projects, I understand why it would take so long. That's a nightmare project, particularly since you can't just shut the system down for a week or two. Just getting the replacement hardware has got to take some time. It's not like this is off shelf components.

I don't blame the T for taking a long time to get this running again. I blame the T (aka Baker and his predecessors) for so much differed maintenance that led to this happening in the first place.

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I've done many data cabling rooms in my time. I cannot fathom to think what it will be like to re-wire and probably re-string many of the cabling to and from that room. If its sensitive to splices, like data cabling is, you have to re-pull every single wire.

ugh ugh ugh. I'm twitching just thinking about it.

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And reading between the lines from the Verizon/MBTA "signal problems" from a few years back, and seeing what looks an awful lot like late 80's/early 90's cardfile wiring in that photo...I'd hazard a guess that the only people who *really* know how that cabinet was wired up are chilling by a swimming pool in Florida.

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without being paid _a lot of money_.

In advance.

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A lot of working class folk wear out their bodies completely by age 60.

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But even just coming back to show younger workers what to do is gonna cost.

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Without knowing yet what was the problem with the car that derailed, we don't know yet if deferred maintenance was a cause (like if a 4-year old axle with a metallic flaw that didn't show up in routine inspections caused it vs. a 50-year old frame component failing).

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It's entirely possible this was a freak, 100% unavoidable thing. But when the trains break down daily and the area of track this occurred is well known to be problematic, it's hard not to think some aspect of deferred maintenance is responsible for the derailment.

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This:

I blame the T (aka Baker and his predecessors) for so much differed maintenance that led to this happening in the first place.

cuts right to the quick, and it's more than accurate, BostonDog! Well said.

One must bear in mind, however, that the problems with the T didn't start with Baker. They've existed for years, and have gotten worse under Baker.

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I believe it's because they don't have the necessary parts and need to get a manufacturer to make them and THEN replace it. The only thing that could speed it up is shutting down the entire line for extended periods of time while they do that. Which at this point I don't know why they won't go that route- NY and Chicago did and people bitched loudly than people are here (if you can imagine) but oh well it's fixed/getting fixed.

This is the shocking aftermath of when you don't touch the T for 30 years.

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People in New York and Chicago had every reason the bitch even more loudly than people here: NY and Chicago are far bigger cities than Boston, and are even more dependent on their subway system for public transportation.

The fact that our T hasn't been properly maintained for 30 years or so has come home to roost, in more ways than one. What we're seeing are the net results of years of sheer neglect by the officials who run the MBTA.

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What about a protest outside MassDOT? Get the megaphones cranked up so you can hear the protests on the FMCB propaganda videos

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there will be mass wildcat turnstile jumping.

No one wants to be the first to do it, but plenty of people will be the second, and third, and fourth, and thousandth ...

So where and when will it happen? Shall we start a pool?

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Valley Rd. on the Mattapan-Ashmont line is my pick for first location of a fare protest

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Maybe since that train helped clear out a bunch of junk they can fast track some actual UPGRADES to the signal system instead of patching decades old systems that were spotty to begin with...

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Apologies for leaving it out, but, they already had a contract to replace the current signaling system when the derailment happened, but it's not like they can just turn it on right away:

Beyond efforts to restore the system to full automation, the MBTA is also working to expedite the replacement of the existing analog system to state-of-the-art digital audio frequency technology. Under a contract awarded to Barletta Heavy Division in October 2018, the MBTA is working to re-sequence the installation of the new system with a focus on starting the upgrade project in the area of JFK/UMass.

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Frankly speaking, I'm surprised that it will be repaired by Labor day. The entire signal shack has to be rebuilt. All of its framework was crushed and plywood walls splintered. The interior PC board cages were bent, small wires ripped out, and the whole thing looks like a pile of day-old spaghetti.

Sadly, that entire fly over was rebuilt a year or two ago and that project took a couple of years because it could only be done at night and on weekends. How many remember that project? All of the destroyed signaling stuff was relatively new.

Now they have to start over. That said... they should have diagrams to restore what was there now, but if they plan to try to cut in new technology at the same time that may not go so good.

Sadly that was the only place available for the signal shack since the area is very condensed and there is no real estate in the area that could have been used for the wiring system. Anyplace else would have required them to tunnel under the tracks more than they did.

That whole shack controls the inbound and outbound switching and signals between the Braintree line, Ashmont line, and branch to downtown (main line) and the set of tracks that sides off to the Cabot repair shops where trains are taken out of service and added in each day for service.

In "dark territory" (no signals) they have to manually pass trains through at reduced speed by federal law, so even the MBTA is powerless to go faster without getting fined or some operator losing their job for breaking federal regulations.

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The corrupt management and utterly useless unions have squandered billions of dollars. All the money that was supposed to be "invested" in equipment has been pissed away in pensions for 40 year olds and disability claims. Disband the T and sell it to the highest bidder. The T is beyond repair.

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Go away libertarian troll!

WE NEED MORE PUBLIC TRANSIT NOT LESS.

Sorry if it makes you feel diminished if working class people get *gasp* LIVING WAGES AND PENSIONS.

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You really want the T disbanded?!? That's crazy! We'd really be screwed, because Boston would cease to function as a real city.

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used by the Cabot Yard and put luxury condos on it.

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The bungalows appear to be nearly the size and shape of shipping containers.

Shipping containers are modular and mobile. They can be transported by trucks and moved with cranes and even tow dollies.

Is there a reason (other than "doesn't fit") that the MBTA can't patch together what is there, then build out an entirely new array off site in shipping containers? Then they could shut the line for a weekend, move the containers into place and secure them, wire them up and fire them up, and have something better?

If this could work, then it might save a lot of headache and money since it could be done completely off line.

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I don't have engineering or electrical chops, but your proposal is a great idea.

Also looking at the inside of the bungalow are small metal boxes, similar to what you'd add to old school desktops of yore (memory, extended USB hubs, etc.) Add that to what you're proposing and it would probably work better than what's there now.

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