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.

                                                                                                                   –CHRISTINA PRIGNANO

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Norton residents balk at a plan to extend the life of an Attleboro landfill. 

Lynn city officials consider making the switch to automated trash pickup.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

They could form a new, if fairly small, organization: Billionaires for Immigration Reform.

Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch come to Boston to make the case for easing immigration restrictions.

Around 12,000 people in Massachusetts could benefit from a new federal rule allowing illegal immigrants brought to the country as children to stay here and obtain work permits, the AP reports. Via WBUR.

ELECTION 2012 

The Chronicle of Philanthropy says the selection of Paul Ryan as the GOP vice presidential candidate puts nonprofit issues front and center because Ryan’s budget plan would place “impossible burdens” on charities to set out a safety net to replace government cuts. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which put some muscle into its backing of Ryan, criticizes what it calls “the Republican Party’s Bedwetter Caucus” — that is, Republicans who worry about tilting a ticket to the right in the run-up to an election. Ryan flies to Las Vegas to meet with Sheldon Adelson

Sen. Scott Brown used his “major policy speech” at the South Shore Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Randolph to attack Elizabeth Warren’s positions without setting out any new policies of his own. Warren, meanwhile, made a campaign stop next door at a construction project in Quincy to tout her infrastructure investment proposal as a way to boost jobs. The Globe has this account of the he said/she said day on the campaign trail.

The US Chamber of Commerce endorses Brown and Richard Tisei

The three Democrats vying for Barney Frank’s 4th Congressional District seat focused on jobs and the economy during a muted debate at Stonehill College. The three GOP contenders focused on Democrat Joseph Kennedy III in their debate.

House Transportation chair John Mica survives a Tea Party challenge in Florida, while Linda McMahon tops Christopher Shays in Connecticut

State Senate hopefuls in the 2nd Essex District squared off in a debate last night, the Salem News reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Bristol County commissioners have voted to file suit against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to collect unpaid registry fees after a federal court in Michigan ruled the agencies were not exempt from paying local deeds excise taxes.

Retail spending rose sharply in July, the highest increase since February.

The Worcester Tornadoes are in the midst of a losing season and serious financial trouble, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports

HEALTH CARE

The Globe offers a rundown of winners and losers in the state’s new health care cost-containment legislation. A big loser: Steward Health Care, the subject of a recent CommonWealth feature story, whose for-profit status left it out of the running for millions of dollars in extra payments.

The New York Times looks at HCA, the national hospital chain with private equity backing that Steward is trying to emulate. 

TRANSPORTATION

The Wall Street Journal rounds up efforts to revitalize urban downtowns with streetcar construction projects. 

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Even as the state prepares for the latest round of mosquito spraying to deal with EEE, health officials warn the disease is “here to stay.”  In Quincy, meanwhile, state officials have found mosquitoes that have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Environmental officials are seeing an increase in the number of striped bass with a bacterial or viral infection, possibly due to warmer waters, the Cape Cod Times reports

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Brockton man pled guilty to embezzling more than $170,000 from his union’s treasury while he was president. He was the last of four defendants to plead guilty to plundering the now-defunct union.

The Globe looks at the lives of the three young women killed in a Sunday shooting in Dorchester.

The mother of Whitey Bulger’s son says the gangster, who now claims he had immunity from federal prosecution, once told her “he had insurance and it was gold-plated.”