T notes: Baker confusion on Silver Line ramp access

Update should improve subway arrival prediction times

THE PUSH FOR SILVER LINE ACCESS to a Seaport District ramp into the Ted Williams Tunnel took an odd turn this week when Gov. Charlie Baker was asked about the situation and appeared to have his facts wrong.

The ramp in question is located in the Seaport District off the Massport haul road next to the State Police complex and runs directly into the Ted Williams Tunnel. State Police have barred Silver Line buses from using the ramp, which means they have to take a circuitous route back toward South Station before gaining access to the tunnel en route to the airport and, starting this weekend, Chelsea.

The ramp issue has become something of a cause among transit advocates, who say operating times could be reduced significantly if buses could gain access to the Ted Williams Tunnel using the ramp. A Boston Globe editorial on Saturday pushed for access to the ramp, among other measures.

During a wide-ranging interview (at 28:30) Thursday on Boston Public Radio that at one point focused on State Police issues, host Margery Eagan asked Baker an imprecise question about Silver Line access to the ramp. “The Silver Line that used to be for the buses in the Ted Tunnel that I believe Troop E has taken that over for security reasons,” she said.

Baker appeared to understand the question, and indicated his administration may need to get back to her with the complete story. But then he said: “My understanding is for a day or two they did that – for a very specific purpose and a very specific reason, and that was it,” he said. “The rest of the time the Silver Line’s been running it.”

Brendan Moss, a spokesman for the governor, issued a statement addressing the broader question of Silver Line access to the ramp. “Gov. Baker looks forward to beginning the first new MBTA service since 2007 with the Silver Line 3 to connect the Chelsea and Boston communities beginning this weekend,” he said. “He is also aware that MassDOT and the T are currently establishing criteria for an analysis of the existing operational and safety challenges associated with the potential use of the ramp to the Ted Williams Tunnel, which will help determine whether it can be used safely by 60-foot Silver Line buses.”

Subway arrival prediction times improved

The MBTA said technology upgrades have improved subway arrival prediction times on the T’s website and smartphone apps and should be rolled out later this year to in-station signage and delay messages.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

T officials said the new approach will refresh arrival time information for subways every six seconds instead of every 15 to 45 seconds and also tap data that will allow for better predictions.

The new information is currently available at MBTA.com and the Transit app. Officials said it will be rolled out to in-station signage and delay messages later this year. They also promised more information in the next few months on when trains will leave at terminus stations on the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines.