The Codcast: Auburndale whistleblowers

Today’s Codcast features the TransitMatters guys who put the brakes on an $11 million MBTA redesign of the Auburndale commuter rail station that was going to improve handicap accessibility but result in poorer service on the Framingham-Worcester Line.

Andy Monat brought the problem to the general public’s attention with an article in CommonWealth that bluntly labeled the situation a mess. The current passenger platform is on the south side of the two tracks of the Worcester-Framingham Line. The station is low-level, meaning passengers have to navigate steps to access the platform and to enter trains. The design had two major drawbacks: handicapped passengers can’t use the stations and passengers can only board trains headed in one direction. So service is only available at the peaks — heading into Boston in the morning and out of Boston at night.

The T addressed only one of the problems with its redesign. The authority made the station handicap accessible and, to appease local concerns, moved the station from the south to the north side of the tracks. But, as Monat pointed out in his article, that meant the T had to spend more than $6 million on switches to bring trains coming out of the station over to the other track because the other Newton stations on the line were still located on the south side of the tracks.

Monat pointed out that it would make more sense to put handicap-accessible platforms on both sides of the tracks. That way trains coming into and out of the city could stop at Auburndale. It would cost more to build the two platforms, but the money saved by dispensing with the switching equipment would make it nearly a wash, he said.

The MBTA hasn’t committed to anything yet, but Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack confirmed she has scrapped the latest Auburndale design and is going back to the drawing board.

Monat and David Perry, a rider on the line who blogs about it here, tell the story behind the story with the help of hosts Jim Aloisi and Josh Fairchild. Aloisi also places the issue in a broader context, pointing that all too often the T focuses on what’s directly in front of it and fails to develop a broader vision for the future. “We can’t look at solving one issue like accessibility in isolation,” he said.

Aloisi’s vision is that the T needs to stop thinking about commuter rail (the movement of passengers in and out of Boston) and start thinking about regional rail (moving passengers across the system at all times of the day, much like the subway).



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Many municipalities have banned recreational marijuana sales within their borders, but Attorney General Maura Healey says those communities cannot ban pot deliveries to residents by vendors located outside the town. (Telegram & Gazette)

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A Lowell Sun editorial says Beacon Hill should butt out when it comes to mascots.

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Mayor Marty Walsh appeals to the public to help police solve a rash of shootings in Boston. (Boston Herald)

Springfield NAACP President Talbert Swan II says a Utah policeman posted a racist meme on his Facebook page. (MassLive)

Panhandler barriers at intersections rejected by Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. (MassLive)


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A Berkshire Eagle editorial says US Rep. Richard Neal needs to do a better job listening to local residents in his district.


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GuideStar, the online charity watchdog, has begun adding warning flags to profiles of at least 46 nonprofits identifying them as hate groups. (CBS News)


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Stephen Crosby, the chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, sends a letter to Beacon Hill telling lawmakers he believes thoroughbred racing can be resurrected if they approve legislation filed by the commission. (CommonWealth)


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The Supreme Judicial Court throws out a defamation case against former governor Deval Patrick centered on comments he made about the former head of the state Sex Offender Registry Board. (Boston Globe)

Former Worcester cop Michael Motyka is found guilty of kicking a shackled prisoner. (MassLive)

New Hampshire lawmakers passed a bill spurred by the 2012 murder of a Westborough, Massachusetts, woman that protects the unrelated sexual activity of a victim from being used in court. (MetroWest Daily News)


The Guardian US raises more than $50,000 through crowdfunding for an investigation of the sale of public lands.