Is the MBTA Killing Itself?

As I stand in a near cattle-car packed South Station, waiting while no trains arrive and no trains depart (“signal difficulties”), I wonder if forces are conspiring to make MBTA service so poor that it enters a death spiral of poor reputation for reliability, increasing fares, lower ridership, less revenue, etc.. One or two long delays or canceled trains in a short time span can be ignored, but after a while it may become impossible for the T to recover the lost goodwill. There’s a saying in trademark law, “once you’ve lost a customer, they’re often gone forever.”

Are signal difficulties for real, by the way?

More on this topic: this excellent op-ed in the Globe about the importance of mass transit to the local economy and life sciences in particular; contrast with this news about what the T plans as its next big project (hint: “T TV”).

Not much good news here, either.

Is anyone listening?

[Tags]MBTA, Boston, Mass Transit[/Tags]


  1. Joe Nov 10

    If by “anyone” listening you mean “anyone with official authority to do something about it”, it certainly doesn’t seem like it.

    Plenty of normal folks are paying attention. ACE-EJ was (is?) organizing folks around T problems:

  2. Jason Nov 10

    I had this thought a few weeks ago. It reminded me of that neo-con I heard on NPR… Norquist? Perhaps government is being managed so badly as to kill it.

  3. Joe Nov 10

    Must be bad transit week nationwide — Worldchanging just posted the following on rider’s unions across the country:

    Jason: current behavior by the MBTA definitely looks like an example of Grover Norquist’s ideology in practice

  4. Anali Nov 10

    I sometimes ponder the same thing while waiting in South Station. And I find myself driving to work more and more.

    This is my first time reading your blog by the way. I love the name! : )

  5. Albert Nov 22

    Hey fellow Bostonian! I just found your blog via Planet Debian. The MBTA needs work, but I think it actually has gotten much better. I’ve been riding the redline for over 15 years and there are too many improvements to count.

    However, I can’t really comment on the past year or so. I’ve been riding much less often. The issue you described about the carriage and the blocked exit is terrible though. They need to fix that.

    I’ve gotten this feeling that the MBTA was having a lot of money problems, and had to raise rates several times, and then finally figured out the benefits of pre-payment cards: more convenience, less transactions, less tellers, more money in the bank collecting interest, etc.

    After some much needed renovations at several stations, I’d expect the operations to improve over the next few years. Hopefully. :-)

    Anyway, back to debian stuff – I’ve been working on a package, care to comment?


  1. Stephen Laniel’s Unspecified Bunker » Why oh why can’t we have a more functional city?

Leave a Reply

(Markdown Syntax Permitted)