The T giveth, and the T taketh away
Commuters getting on the MBTA this morning may have found the ride a little bit more predictable. The Globe reports that the T is beginning to roll out a countdown system on its LED displays today that lets riders know exactly how many minutes away the next train is.
Real time data for the Red, Orange, and Blue lines have been available to the public since early 2010, resulting in the development of smartphone apps such as Where’s the T that let riders track arrival times on their phone. The technology has also been available for bus lines since late 2009.
As with previous developments in the T’s tracking projects, there is one glaring exception: Green Line riders won’t benefit. Buried in the Globe’s write-up is an explanation of why trolley customers won’t see the technology anytime soon: “The Green Line will not have countdowns because it has only a rudimentary tracking system.” Any regular Green Line rider could tell you that, but the MBTA itself doesn’t even know where a given Green Line train is, especially once it passes out of the tunnels and onto the surface level. The Herald explored why in 2010:
“Dispatchers are essentially in the dark when it comes to pinpointing Green Line trolleys. ‘The reason for that is that there are so many areas where there are things on our tracks that are not Green Line trolleys, but can create the same indication. For example, we could have a UPS truck out there on our tracks that could create an image like that,’ [a T spokesman] said.”
As the system’s other subway lines get more predictable with countdown clocks, Green Line service may be heading even further the other way. The T’s newly implemented front door exit-only policy, which bans riders from entering and leaving the trolleys through all but the front doors during off-peak hours, has drawn more than a few complaints. BostInno reports that T officials haven’t ruled out extending the policy to all hours on the line, whose ridership has spiked more than 9 percent over this time last year.
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