Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:16 am

I was just thinking about this after seeing the Government Center station rebuilding starting.

The MBTA spends millions of (our) dollars to rebuild stations like Government Center and then just lets them fall apart. Take a walk around the "new" North Station "Superstation". You can see the floor tiles are falling apart and there are large floor patches everywhere. I witnessed lots of water (sewerage?) pouring onto the Orange Line tracks, and there are many other signs of deterioration.

Check out the long-delayed and expensive Kenmore Station. The rust is just pouring down the walls in spots and no one has made any effort to clean it off.

Spending so much money and then just letting things deteriorate is just stupid and a waste of our tax dollars.

Even the older stations could use a touch-up now and again. Why not a coat of paint on the columns at Hynes just so it doesn't look so bad? It wouldn't take much really to keep things looking good, but they seem to just let things fall apart instead.

And another pet peeve of mine: Why can't anyone design a station roof or canopy that has no physical structure for a pigeon to roost on??? They build a pretty good looking building or structure and then cover it with netting or giant spikes and it looks like hell. Just design the thing so that there are no available open horizontal places for the birds to sit. Can't be that hard guys!
bostontrainguy
 
Posts: 952
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:14 am

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby BandA » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:47 pm

Because they expect federal funds to pay for replacements. Because they are insolvent. Because their costs are too high. Pigeons, that's a newer problem...
User avatar
BandA
 
Posts: 1899
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:47 am

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby frrc » Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:35 pm

Fact is, when it comes to quality, today's construction projects lack it, period. Just look at some of the older transportation related projects, like the sumner/callahan tunnels. Built years ago, and still standing, not flooding, not sinking. Though they are being repaired. I work on old buildings, and have seen many "new construction" projects have major defects within a few years of being done, while some older buildings, like one I worked on in CT, built in 1770, are still standing and only need minor repairs. I've always "overbuilt" and gone "way above" building code when I do restoration work on old buildings, that way I can come back in 10-20 years and see it still standing...

In the end, it all boils down to pride, quality, and workmanship. Sadly, those three issues have gone out the proverbial window these days.

:(

JoeF
Last edited by frrc on Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Avatar: Self Portrait, Railroad Office
Renaissance Restorations LLC
Leominster, MA 01453

My Sites: Architectual Restorations
User avatar
frrc
 
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:31 am
Location: Leominster, MA

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby frrc » Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:37 pm

BandA wrote:Because they expect federal funds to pay for replacements. Because they are insolvent. Because their costs are too high. Pigeons, that's a newer problem...


Bring in some hawks and falcons, that will cure the pigeon problem. I recall there were some hawks/falcons roosting in downtown Boston a while ago...

JoeF
Avatar: Self Portrait, Railroad Office
Renaissance Restorations LLC
Leominster, MA 01453

My Sites: Architectual Restorations
User avatar
frrc
 
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:31 am
Location: Leominster, MA

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby jboutiet » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:10 pm

For some of these issues, I think scale comes into play. If Kenmore Station was the T's only property, they would be able to clean the rust off and apply new paint regularly. But when you look at how many painted surfaces, track beds, etc. that the T owns, it's hard to see the value of painting one rusty wall. By the time you get them all, the first one is rusty again, and you've spent an awful lot of money (that you don't have) on paint and wages.
jboutiet
 
Posts: 64
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:59 pm

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby Arborwayfan » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:14 pm

Engineers (and customers) are trained to think of a useful life for everything, and that useful life is often pretty short these days. The 19th-century bridges still standing were "overengineered" by today's standards, partly because they weren't as good at calculating how strong they needed to be, so they put in a lot of redundancy. Now they cut it close, and they expect things to be obsolete relatively soon. (Or "no interest in quality work,".)

It's harder to get money for maintenance than for repairs, and harder for repairs than for a new thing. When there was no East Boston Tunnel, everyone (especially the ferry operators) could picture people paying to ride through the tunnel (including the extra cent per ride to pay the tunnel bonds) and still paying less total than ferry fare. A new thing can be named, opened, etc., in a way that regular maintenance can't. And capital money is easier to get because (a) federal grants tend to be for capital rather than operating, at least in the last generation and (b) capital expenses are just more exciting to a lot of politicians, voters, university trustees, etc.
Last edited by Arborwayfan on Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Arborwayfan
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:27 am
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby Arborwayfan » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:19 pm

I'm right there with you, by the way. If Boylston Station can still be used more or less as built, why have some of the stations been redone twice since the 80s? Not repainted, or refreshed, but really changed, with different coverings for the columns, new tile floors when concrete would have lasted better and could have been colored or something to make it "nice", etc. And why put in big pigeon traps when a simple door through the side of a building would work well. What, in the end, was wrong with the old Gov't Center headhouse that they are now replacing. (OK, some big stations are nice, pigeons or not, like Forest Hills, but that's a fairly busy station with a lot of different traffic flows that actually use the space under all that roof.)
Arborwayfan
 
Posts: 655
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:27 am
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby NH2060 » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:41 pm

Well when you think about it, if a company builds something with a shorter life expectancy in a shorter amount of time they can then bid on the replacement. In other words, more gravy for the gravy train ;-)

Of course, money wasn't always everything when it came to engineering projects 100+ years ago..
NH2060
 
Posts: 1443
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:44 pm

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby CRail » Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:12 pm

Perhaps we should be focusing on the real problem instead of T bashing because it's fun and everyone else is doing it.

Our precious money that we care so much about when it's convenient to is controlled by politicians, not by a transit authority. The MBTA spends very little of its own money on capital projects, which are funded primarily through grants and other outside sources. Politicians like big projects, ground breakings, and ribbon cuttings. They're attractive and they're good to have on your resume. Spending money on upkeep is not attractive and isn't supported by constituents who would rather some new fancy thing be built in their neighborhood. So it's left to the operating budget which is pretty well consumed by operating costs, go figure.

If you think you can do it so much better than the people with the educations and real world experiences: http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/career_opps/
Moderator: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Avatar:3679A (since wrecked)/3623B (now in service as 3636B).
User avatar
CRail
 
Posts: 2132
Joined: Tue May 18, 2004 8:27 am
Location: Eastie

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby bostontrainguy » Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:24 am

The pigeon thing isn't just a MBTA problem. I was in Ft. Lauderdale recently where Amtrak just opened a very nice new station. Outside there are simple good-looking canopies (with benches underneath), but these are wrapped in nets and have long metal spikes on all horizontal beams. It looks terrible. It would seem easy enough to design these things without those horizontal beams. No roosting places - no pigeon problems and probably lower maintenance too.
bostontrainguy
 
Posts: 952
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:14 am

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby joshg1 » Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:08 pm

People do care about appearances; shiny new draws new customers, some of whom keep using the T. Ultimately moving people around is and should be the priority. I agree that showplace stations are pointless gestures. I never cease to be amazed at the total lack of understanding of materials, drainage, and basic physics that engineers and architects exhibit today. Well... the ones who win contracts anyway.

I don't care about pretty, I care about practical. I just want the system to function. Speaking of which, the bus/coach terminal at South Station is a MBTA property and it has held up well. The central skylight is striking but the rest is solid, well maintained, and functional. It has more elegance in its design than is necessary but it isn't over the top. The Silver Line Courthouse station is over the top. I prefer the plain concrete platform level. My plaintive cry is simple, functional, and easy to maintain doesn't have to be ugly.

How about an electric strip along horizontal surfaces to shock the pigeons away?
joshg1
 
Posts: 209
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:05 pm

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby harshaw » Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:31 pm

somewhat related (if anything is related in this thread):

On the worcester / framingham line we have these large pedestrian bridges on the newer stations. The main structure appears to be built out of galvanized steel but other parts including the chain link fencing and handrails appear to be built out of less corrosion resistant steel. The result is that the pedestrian bridges appear to be a rusty mess less than 15 years after they were built. The Framingham bridge is so bad that you can see holes through the rusted out parts :O
harshaw
 
Posts: 121
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:17 pm

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby millerm277 » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:29 pm

harshaw wrote:somewhat related (if anything is related in this thread):

On the worcester / framingham line we have these large pedestrian bridges on the newer stations. The main structure appears to be built out of galvanized steel but other parts including the chain link fencing and handrails appear to be built out of less corrosion resistant steel. The result is that the pedestrian bridges appear to be a rusty mess less than 15 years after they were built. The Framingham bridge is so bad that you can see holes through the rusted out parts :O


That has some logic to it. Replacing a handrail, or a chain-link fence is a easy, cheap, and will not cause any disruption or other issues to do. It would barely require more than a guy, some portable tools, and the replacement material. Handrails and other fixtures users come in contact with also are going to get abused regardless. A handrail's mounts and such tend to eventually get bent, damaged, loose, etc from the cumulative use/abuse from customers. I would guess they're going to need replacement every 15 years or so whether or not they're rusting out at that point.

In contrast, replacing the bridge structure would be a major, disruptive undertaking.
millerm277
 
Posts: 87
Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:47 am

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby highgreen215 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:49 am

harshaw: I thoroughly agree with you. The same big structural messes are at Readville and Canton Jct. Didn't the designers know they should be complementing the neighborhoods, not insulting them by constructing these examples of visual pollution. Obviously there was never any community input - the engineering firms should be sued.
highgreen215
 
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:43 pm
Location: Roslindale, Mass.

Re: Why can't the MBTA maintain anything? & Pigeons

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:45 am

highgreen215 wrote:harshaw: I thoroughly agree with you. The same big structural messes are at Readville and Canton Jct. Didn't the designers know they should be complementing the neighborhoods, not insulting them by constructing these examples of visual pollution. Obviously there was never any community input - the engineering firms should be sued.


They tried to build one of these monstrosity in Acton, but the people fought it and won:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articl ... sign_plan/

I just got back from Florida and the TRI-Rail and new Sun-Rail stations are just beautiful compared to our ugly metal cages.
bostontrainguy
 
Posts: 952
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:14 am

Next

Return to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Echo33d and 9 guests