New commuter schedule derailed

by Beth Melo on January 22, 2014

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MBTA Framingham – Worcester commuter rail schedule improvements have been “delayed until further notice.” When a new schedule is announced, it may not look like the version previously released.

Originally, schedule changes were targeted for January 13th. Construction at Yawkey Station delayed the planned rollout to January 27th. Now, the MBTA is announcing an indefinite delay and vague language about considering changes.

After a reader informed me about the announcement, I did a search. On Tuesday, the MBTA tweeted that the schedule would be delayed. Their website yields this little blurb:

Due to ongoing work at the new Yawkey Station, the enhanced schedule will not be implemented in January 2014. The new schedule cannot go into effect until the station platforms can fully accommodate both inbound and outbound trains simultaneously. In addition, the MBTA is taking under consideration some schedule changes suggested by customers and local officials. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the delayed implementation of the new schedule. The MBTA looks forward to bringing improved service to the customers of the Framingham/Worcester Line as soon as possible.

A quick internet search tells me that Natick residents were among those complaining to their representatives about the “improved” schedule. It seems that what appeared to be a boon to Southborough in more express trains, was viewed by other towns as coming at their expense.

Changes to the commuter rail schedule had followed MBTA community outreach for feedback on schedule improvements.

The resulting schedules had promised what appeared to be improved service for Southborough residents commuting to Boston during peak hours:

Now it looks like the MBTA is heading back to the drawing board.

(Photo from MBTA’s October 2013 presentation to the 495/Metrowest Partnership)

1 mikee January 22, 2014 at 12:20 PM

who should we contact to voice our concerns?

2 beth January 22, 2014 at 4:15 PM

The original contact for feedback probably still works: worcesterline2013@mbta.com. But while I’m sure it’s good to let them know your concerns directly, you may also want to cover the political route.

It sounds from medial coverage like some constituents have lobbied their representatives to weigh in. You may want to make sure our reps know how you feel.

3 SouthboroDave January 22, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Silly question, but what is the easier way to figure out which rep to contact?

4 beth January 23, 2014 at 9:46 AM

I’m no authority on this. But, Representative Carolyn Dykema makes a noticable effort to keep open communication with residents. She occasionally holds “office hours” in town, welcoming residents to meet with her. Those announcements always include a statement like the following:
As always, if the scheduled office hours are not convenient for you, please call the office at (617) 722-2210 or email her aide at leah.robins@mahouse.gov to set up a personal appointment either in the district or at the State House.

5 Resident January 23, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Of course the Natick residents complain. They were by far the most significant beneficiaries of the prior schedule so spreading that benefit to the outer suburbs seems unfair to them. Yet, if you look at the current schedule, they have more rush hour trains to their stops than we do and they have 2 stops. Framingham doesn’t even have two stops…hopefully they still consider those express train at 530 to ashland. For people that live in Southborough and Hopkinton, its either get home at 6 or get home past 7.

6 Jon January 23, 2014 at 7:55 PM

I really liked the original proposed schedule. I have no problem with changing those express trains to stop at West Natick as a first stop after Yawkey. What I think is ridiculous is stopping at any of the three Wellesley stops to let a few dozen lawyers get off the train (who undoubtedly have lots of strong lobbying connections). There are already plenty of Framingham trains to Wellesley. Say how did a single town end up with THREE commuter rail stops? Oh – that’s another issue all together…

7 Scott January 24, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Well, a long time ago Wellesley used to have at least 5 train stops on that line. Wellesley College used to have their own train stop and Captain Marden’s Seafood is located in an old train station on Linden St..

Newton also has 3 stops. When the train line only serviced Boston to Framingham, it wasn’t such a big deal. Personally, I would like to see them close (or limit the use of) the “middle station” in both Newton and Wellesley, as they seem the least popular on the trains I take. I would not want to discourage anyone from taking the train, but it seems like if they shorten the transit time they might even come out attracting more riders.

8 Carolyn Dykema January 23, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the new train schedule and recent press about implementation delays. Several constituents have already contacted me and my office has reached out to the Dept. of Transportation to express concern about any changes to the proposed schedule. As I continue to advocate on this issue, it would be helpful to know specifically which elements of the new schedule are most important to you (ie express trains? specific departure times?). Comments can be emailed to me directly at Carolyn.dykema@mahouse.gov and please copy my legislative assistant at Leah.Robins@mahouse.gov. Thanks to Beth for sharing the contact information before I could! ~Carolyn

9 Southborough Resident January 26, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Senator Eldridge is another one to contact
617-722-1120 (phone)
617-722-1089 (fax)
James.Eldridge@MASenate.gov

10 Resident January 29, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Please reach out to your constituents on this issue if you are a southborough commuter. The fact that the schedule was changed because of Natick people doing the same thing shows the impact. I recently wrote to them regarding the updated schedule; Natick commuters have been benficiaries of the current schedule which is why they don’t want to give any ground to those who live further out. Please see my message below:

The outer boroughs, past Framingham, seem to be disadvantaged across the board on the current schedule. For example, if you look at the morning inbound trains, Natick and West Natick have 2 additional rush hour options P510 and P514; A train makes a stop there in 10 and 30 minute intervals during the peak morning rush. On the outbound schedule, again Natick and West Natick have 2-3 more stops during the rush hour commute. The outer boroughs only have 3 trains during the outbound rush hour time period. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me why those inner areas are beneficiaries when we have longer to travel and service multiple towns. The Southborough station alone services multiple towns and that station is packed daily (just try getting out of the parking lot after a train arrives, it’s quite difficult); people may not realize that it also services Hopkinton as it is right on the border and easily accessible to that town. My argument was that we just need to make it a little fairer for the people who are traveling further out.

We also pay more than those commuters’ who have better service, and I realize it’s because the train travels further, but there should also be a convenience component to how people are charged if we are going to create these differences in convenience across the schedule. The 530 express train to Ashland was a good solution for the outer boroughs and unfortunately that seems to have created some angst, among other changes. I felt it balanced out the schedule, and as usual, the current beneficiaries don’t want to give any ground. There should be a mutually agreeable solution to this to better balance the schedule and I hope you can assist those of us who currently view the schedule as a little unfair.

11 SouthboroDave January 29, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Thanks for typing this up and sharing. Much faster to send out for the rest of us.

12 Resident2 January 29, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Good post and very good points.

13 Carolyn Dykema February 1, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Dear All,
Thanks to all who contacted my office and the Senator’s office with your concerns about changes to the proposed commuter rail schedule. Senator Eldridge and I, along with several other concerned legislators, have contacted MBTA General Manager Scott to ask that the originally proposed schedule, without changes, be implemented as soon as possible. We’ll continue to stay on top of this and will post here with any updates.
~Carolyn

14 Tim McAndrews February 7, 2014 at 2:14 PM

As a resident of Natick I want to say that I LOVED the proposed schedule and was more than happy with the Natick stops and times. I do not need every single train to service my stop, but the fact is that the service was improved for EVERYONE. Some times changed and stops moved around, but in the end it worked out that there are still plenty of trains to get all the Wellsley and Natick passangers home.
Please do not give all Natick commuters a bad name, I know many of us that were beyond pleased with the new schedule. And what ever happened to being neighborly, can we not just be pleased that the MBTA is improving service. The fact the ALL trains now stop at Yawkey is the real difference here and as someone who works in the transportation field I have seen first hand how the delay of this schedule has put people back on the roads that were going to be able to switch back to the MBTA with the new schedule.
PLEASE call you state reps and the MBTA and get this schedule implementation back on track!!!

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