Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

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Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby Yellowspoon » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:12 pm

Sign, Sign, everywhere a sign (as the song goes). Unfortunately, a significant number of them are incorrect, cryptic, missing, or ambiguous.

Yes, I know many of you think I'm a whiner just because I point out signs that are incorrect. After all, everybody who frequents this board knows there way around the subway system. However, the signs are not for us. The signs should be for those people who DON'T know there way around the MBTA. And the MBTA should not use cryptic sayings that have no context. (Do you REALLY believe that a tourist has any idea what "COPLEY & WEST" means). When I made a comment similar to this effect back in February, I received a curt retort that tourists should just ask someone. That assumes that the person standing next to you knows the answer. They usually don't.

So now, let's fast forward to Marathon Monday. Government Center has been open for four weeks. To assist newbies who don't know their way around, the MBTA has stationed an employee a Park Street between tracks 3 & 4. Then, I notice the below sign which is wrong in so many ways. Even when GovCen was closed, access to the Blue Line was faster via Downtown Crossing. However, even that would have been wrong. It was significantly faster to go to Logan via the Silver Line. Today, I believe that red/silver route with one transfer is still a bit faster than the Blue Line which involves two transfers. To add a trivial nit-pick, the sign incorrectly calls TD Garden by a name that was dropped twenty years ago.

To make a point, I called the MBTA employee over to the sign. While pointing at the sign, I asked, "To get to Logan airport, I take any car to Haymarket and transfer to the Blue Line???". The answer was an unqualified, "Yes". So I asked her again, this time pointing to Haymarket, "To get to Logan airport, I take the green line to HAYMARKET and transfer to the Blue Line". She again answered, "Yes". When I told her the correct routing, she did not know why the sign was wrong, but said that she would inform someone.

After doing some business near City Hall, I ate my lunch on the upper level of the Government Center station. It being Marathon Monday, a lot of people were going to view the Marathon near Heartbreak Hill. I saw many groups waiting, waiting, and more waiting. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks ... How the *&$%#@ are riders supposed to know that Boston College trains do not go through Government Center? Over the course of thirty to forty minutes, I found six different groups of people who were waiting at Government Center for a "B" train. If anyone from the MBTA is reading this, please put signs in Government Center. And while you're at it, do not abbreviate "Boston College" because a tourist usually has no idea what "B.C." means.

So, let's fast forward another three days to Thursday, April 21st. Nothing has changed at Park Street or GovCen. At GovCen, I notified an MBTA employee that there were no signs about "B" service. His response was that they were on order. That's fine, but an 8½" x 11" sheet of paper and a magic marker could create temporary signs until the printed ones are finished. Or, they could print this: http://www.zblist.com/bostoncollege.pdf.

And a final note. While waiting for a "C" train at Kenmore, the station announcement was, "Heath Street train arriving". Did I hear that correctly? The announcement board did indeed say that the train coming in was headed for Heath Street. This I had to see. The car had no passengers and did not stop.

And for those of you who think I only pick on the MBTA, let me mention my only afternoon in Atlanta. I was on a southbound red-line train to the airport. At each station, the announcement over the P.A. system was for a blue-line station. So it's not just Boston.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby Arborwayfan » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:31 am

Actually, I usually agree with your comments about signs. There's no reason they shouldn't be clear and correct. "Trains to Park Street & Points North" would make a lot more sense than "Park St. & North". And there are already signs at North Station IIRC that say For the B line to Boston College, take any car to Park St. and change. All they needed to do was make some more just like that for Government Center.

I'm not sure I buy that walking from the platform at Park St. to DTX, going down under the tracks and up on the other side, and waiting for an OL train to State to get the Blue Line is faster than waiting at Park St. for the next car to GC, but your point about the Silver Line makes sense. I wonder why that's not what they put on that sign all along.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby Yellowspoon » Thu May 26, 2016 11:11 am

Arborwayfan wrote:Actually, I usually agree with your comments about signs. There's no reason they shouldn't be clear and correct. "Trains to Park Street & Points North" would make a lot more sense than "Park St. & North". And there are already signs at North Station IIRC that say For the B line to Boston College, take any car to Park St. and change. All they needed to do was make some more just like that for Government Center.

There are similar signs at Haymarket. The problem is that there are conflicting signs at Haymarket as well (see photo). If two signs conflict, how is a patron supposed to determine which one is correct?
Arborwayfan wrote:I'm not sure I buy that walking from the platform at Park St. to DTX, going down under the tracks and up on the other side, and waiting for an OL train to State to get the Blue Line is faster than waiting at Park St. for the next car to GC, but your point about the Silver Line makes sense. I wonder why that's not what they put on that sign all along.

What I was trying to say was that access to the Blue Line from Park Street was faster via DTX back when GovCen was closed. In other words ... No only is the sign is wrong today, but it was also wrong six months ago. This is primarily due to the loooooong walking distance from Orange Line (southbound) to Blue Line at State Station. Now that GovCen is open, access to the Blue Line is faster via the Green Line. The second way that the sign was (and still is) wrong is that access to Logan Airport was, and still is, faster, even today, via the Silver Line because there are fewer transfers. I believe the Silver Line route could (and should) trim a few more minutes by eliminating the SilverLineWay stop outbound. They could turn on the diesel, lower the trolley arms, and take a right as soon as the bus exits the tunnel. That would save about three minutes.

As for other parts of my original post: Despite my notifying the MBTA a month ago, the 48" x 48" signs telling patrons to transfer to the Blue LIne via Haymarket are still present at Park Street.

Also, there still are no signs at GovCen telling patrons that B trains do not pass through GovCen. Or have they changed that? Or is that only changed during Red Sox games as there were a few B trains at GovCen on Sunday during a Red Sox game.

Also observed at GovCen on 22-May: Four consecutive D trains in less than five minutes came through GovCen. Why don't they space them out? Isn't there room on the turn-back loop to wait a few minutes? The first D train already had passengers, so I don't know where it originated. The 2nd & 3rd were single car trains; one went to Reservoir. Also observed at GovCenlast Sunday, a single car train marked, "NO SERVICE" stopped and opened its doors. Passengers boarded, but I have no idea where they were headed. This was immediately followed by a single car train with a blank destination signs who also picked up passengers.

At Kenmore as the baseball game was finished, a train marked PARK STREET, with passengers, stopped, opened its doors, filled to capacity and waited. And waited. Three(?) minutes later, the passengers were told to exit; the doors closed and the train just sat there. Now the station was really crowded. About five minutes later, the train was re-signed, "GOVT. CENTER", took on passengers, and departed. Go figure. On the outbound side, a car marked, "BOSTON CLGE." threw the passengers off the train before proceeding empty westbound.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri May 27, 2016 8:10 am

Yellowspoon wrote:Also observed at GovCen on 22-May: Four consecutive D trains in less than five minutes came through GovCen. Why don't they space them out? Isn't there room on the turn-back loop to wait a few minutes? The first D train already had passengers, so I don't know where it originated. The 2nd & 3rd were single car trains; one went to Reservoir. Also observed at GovCenlast Sunday, a single car train marked, "NO SERVICE" stopped and opened its doors. Passengers boarded, but I have no idea where they were headed. This was immediately followed by a single car train with a blank destination signs who also picked up passengers.


Have you maybe considered that there might be a reason for this? Reservoir and Riverside are the T's main maintenance bases for the green line, and also large storage yards, with connections at Reservoir to both the B and C lines as well. You didn't say what time of day this was, but I find it likely that, for example, the single car signed for Reservoir needed to be shuttled out to one of the other branches, and the D line was the fastest way to get it there. The one signed for Riverside may well have needed to go out there for some sort of maintenance, and they figured why not let it carry passengers? There are any number of reasons a car might need to be moved around the system in some manner other than the normal service pattern, and I for one appreciate it when the T allows these moves to carry passengers.

As for the D train arriving at GC with passengers already on board, I can't seem to confirm this on the T's website, but off-peak D trains originate at North Station, IIRC.

At Kenmore as the baseball game was finished, a train marked PARK STREET, with passengers, stopped, opened its doors, filled to capacity and waited. And waited. Three(?) minutes later, the passengers were told to exit; the doors closed and the train just sat there. Now the station was really crowded. About five minutes later, the train was re-signed, "GOVT. CENTER", took on passengers, and departed. Go figure. On the outbound side, a car marked, "BOSTON CLGE." threw the passengers off the train before proceeding empty westbound.


Again, I think all of this can be easily explained as the T needing to move cars around the system in a manner other than the normal service pattern. Especially when it comes to handling large crowds after events like a Sox game, flexibility is key. Perhaps the operator was having an issue on that Park Street train, and the dispatcher told them they'd have to pull it from service, but then they fixed the issue and brought the train back in service. On that BC train, perhaps there was also a mechanical issue that required taking it out of service (and sending it west toward Reservoir, for example). Or perhaps the inbound platform at Kenmore was getting too crowded with Sox fans, and the dispatcher decided to short-turn the train to help alleviate the crowds.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but I don't think you recognize that there is a lot going on at any given moment on a transit system as complex as the green line, and you as a passenger do not know everything going on everywhere. The dispatchers and operators have a reason for doing everything they do - the point is not just to annoy you. Now perhaps they could be a little better at communication, but at the same time they aren't required to disclose why a train is being taken out of service or service is being altered, and probably have better things to tend to.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby chrisf » Fri May 27, 2016 9:45 am

On the plus side, the "Green Line, to all trains" sign at the top of the stairs from the commuter rail platform at Forest Hills was covered up some time in the past few months.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby Yellowspoon » Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:16 am

deathtopumpkins wrote:
Yellowspoon wrote:Also observed at GovCen on 22-May: Four consecutive D trains in less than five minutes came through GovCen. Why don't they space them out? Isn't there room on the turn-back loop to wait a few minutes? The first D train already had passengers, so I don't know where it originated. The 2nd & 3rd were single car trains; one went to Reservoir. Also observed at GovCenlast Sunday, a single car train marked, "NO SERVICE" stopped and opened its doors. Passengers boarded, but I have no idea where they were headed. This was immediately followed by a single car train with a blank destination signs who also picked up passengers.


Have you maybe considered that there might be a reason for this? Reservoir and Riverside are the T's main maintenance bases for the green line, and also large storage yards, with connections at Reservoir to both the B and C lines as well. You didn't say what time of day this was, but I find it likely that, for example, the single car signed for Reservoir needed to be shuttled out to one of the other branches, and the D line was the fastest way to get it there. The one signed for Riverside may well have needed to go out there for some sort of maintenance, and they figured why not let it carry passengers? There are any number of reasons a car might need to be moved around the system in some manner other than the normal service pattern, and I for one appreciate it when the T allows these moves to carry passengers.

As for the D train arriving at GC with passengers already on board, I can't seem to confirm this on the T's website, but off-peak D trains originate at North Station, IIRC.


Regardless of anything else, they should have spaced the trains. Many times, I've seen multiple trains back-to-back and then an intolerable wait for the next train. (e.g. a westbound "C" trains waiting to enter Haymarket but can't because there is already a "C" train taking passengers. The trains originated one stop before).

Also, "D" trains terminating at North Station was only for the duration of GovCen closure. Even that was not consistent. I boarded several trains at Waban on weekends that were marked "Park Street" only to watch Haymarket passengers standing and waiting for a "D" train a few hours later.

deathtopumpkins wrote:
At Kenmore as the baseball game was finished, a train marked PARK STREET, with passengers, stopped, opened its doors, filled to capacity and waited. And waited. Three(?) minutes later, the passengers were told to exit; the doors closed and the train just sat there. Now the station was really crowded. About five minutes later, the train was re-signed, "GOVT. CENTER", took on passengers, and departed. Go figure. On the outbound side, a car marked, "BOSTON CLGE." threw the passengers off the train before proceeding empty westbound.


Again, I think all of this can be easily explained as the T needing to move cars around the system in a manner other than the normal service pattern. Especially when it comes to handling large crowds after events like a Sox game, flexibility is key. Perhaps the operator was having an issue on that Park Street train, and the dispatcher told them they'd have to pull it from service, but then they fixed the issue and brought the train back in service. On that BC train, perhaps there was also a mechanical issue that required taking it out of service (and sending it west toward Reservoir, for example). Or perhaps the inbound platform at Kenmore was getting too crowded with Sox fans, and the dispatcher decided to short-turn the train to help alleviate the crowds.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but I don't think you recognize that there is a lot going on at any given moment on a transit system as complex as the green line, and you as a passenger do not know everything going on everywhere. The dispatchers and operators have a reason for doing everything they do - the point is not just to annoy you. Now perhaps they could be a little better at communication, but at the same time they aren't required to disclose why a train is being taken out of service or service is being altered, and probably have better things to tend to.

The train was fine. They did nothing but kill time. It was obviously a spacing maneuver, but the inspector didn't make the decision until the train was fully loaded.

Last Thursday, my train from Waban entered Kenmore and the doors were held open for 3-5 minutes. In the meantime, a train from BostonCollege entered and exited the station. If I had know about the shuffle, I would have walked to the B train. When I complained to the inspector in the booth, he just didn't give a damn. I then went back to my D train, with doors still open, and we departed.

Yes, you're correct, I don't believe they're trying to annoy me. I just don't think they care. The old PCCs took 35 minutes to get from Riverside to Park Street in 1959. With twenty-first century technology, it now takes 42 minutes, if we're lucky. Last Thursday, it took 44 minutes for car 3641 to get from Park Street to Newton Center. We had to change trains because there were three (yes, three) trains directly behind us.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby Yellowspoon » Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:04 pm

I was at Park Street a few months ago when a Cleveland Circle train entered. The operator assisted a wheelchair-bound patron off the train. The patron turned right, heading for the "E" berth. Odd, I thought, why didn't he just take an "E" train? So I asked him. It turns out, he was following the signs to get to an elevator to the surface .
0_MBTA_Elevators.jpg
Had he followed the sign, he would have taken three elevators and wasted about 15 minutes to get to the street. The real elevator to the street was in the opposite direction. How much more apathetic and indifferent could the MBTA be.

So I queried an inspector on the platform. He shrugged his shoulders because he didn't know what to do and he obviously wasn't going to make any effort to correct the error. He suggested that I write to MBTA customer service.

So I wrote customer service and, sure enough, nothing happened. No response; no action; nothing. Writing to Customer Service is like writing to Santa Claus.

Fast forward to last week. I was in the passageway walking from track 1 to track 4 when I encountered a young woman with a baby in a stroller. She was puzzled, so I asked if I could help. Again, she was trying to get to the surface and had followed the sign just like the fellow in the wheelchair. However, there were no signs down there telling her what to do next.

Since customer service is not responsive, who else could I write. After hours of research, I was only able to find two MBTA mailing addresses, Customer Service and the transit police. The police, obviously, are only interested in safety and crime. Customer service is useless. The MBTA obviously obfuscates any attempt to contact directly someone with responsibility.

Does anyone have Brian Shortsleeve's mailing address? Does anyone have a mailing address other than "Customer Service"?

Incidentally, in the photograph, not only is the surface elevator behind the photographer, the elevator to the red line is also behind the photographer. Both are at least six years old.

In addition, the sign in my original post which has been in error since GocCen re-opened, is still wrong.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby Arborwayfan » Thu Sep 29, 2016 3:06 pm

Try writing to a state rep or state senator. Their office staff and interns work on helping constituents with issues with state agencies. Also the governor's office: "Your excellency, the signs are Park Street are inaccurate....."
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby Diverging Route » Thu Sep 29, 2016 3:12 pm

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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby BandA » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:07 pm

Yellowspoon wrote:...Writing to [MBTA] Customer Service is like writing to Santa Claus.
Not true; Santa Claus is real. Customer Service is a myth
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby atlantis » Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:57 am

I remember the PCC cars also as a kid, Yellowspoon. As good as the newer vehicles are in many ways, the PCCs seemed to be more efficient in other ways. Also, the front doors of the PCCs had a center handrail on the steps allowing for simultaneous entry and exit, thus speeding up the boarding and alighting process.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby Yellowspoon » Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:18 pm

Arborwayfan wrote:Try writing to a state rep or state senator. Their office staff and interns work on helping constituents with issues with state agencies. Also the governor's office: "Your excellency, the signs are Park Street are inaccurate....."
This is getting slightly off topic, but writing the Governor may not fare any better.

Dog racing was eliminated in Massachusetts in 2009. In June, 2015, I wrote Governor Baker about the outdate road sign on Route 24. I said the sign should be removed. The reponse from his office was, "Thank you for writing Governor Baker about dog racing ... ". Obviously, bobody had bothered to read my letter. In a subsequent call to the Governor's office, I spoke to Jason (last name unknown). Jason indicated that no action would be taken because the dog track still existed at that location.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby deathtopumpkins » Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:44 am

While it's not relevant to the T, the Raynham dog track does still host simulcast racing, and there has been talk about building a casino there, or otherwise redeveloping the site.

And even if it does close completely, there's no harm in still leaving that sign up until the next sign replacement project. I'd rather they not waste my tax dollars sending someone out to remove it early.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby CRail » Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:26 pm

Yellowspoon wrote:Had he followed the sign, he would have taken three elevators and wasted about 15 minutes to get to the street. The real elevator to the street was in the opposite direction. How much more apathetic and indifferent could the MBTA be.

So I queried an inspector on the platform. He shrugged his shoulders because he didn't know what to do and he obviously wasn't going to make any effort to correct the error. He suggested that I write to MBTA customer service.
I believe that's just old and probably forgotten about. Before the second elevator was installed (within the last few years) on that side of Park Street, you'd actually have to take 3 elevators to get to the surface.

What exactly do you expect an inspector to do? Climb up on a ladder and scrape the letters off the sign? They have nothing to do with MBTA signage and probably don't have any way of contacting the department that does. Do what everyone else does, tweet it.
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Re: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ...

Postby BandA » Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:48 pm

CRail wrote:What exactly do you expect an inspector to do? Climb up on a ladder and scrape the letters off the sign? They have nothing to do with MBTA signage and probably don't have any way of contacting the department that does. Do what everyone else does, tweet it.
I would expect the inspector to know what department handles signs and fire off an email to them, perhaps facilities@mbta.com. Or if he didn't know, send an email to his manager who would know. A wise colleague once said, "I don't know the answer to that question, but I can find out". Are T inspectors so overworked that they should blow off fixing legitimate problems? Even if you are following a Pareto process (rank tasks by impact and fix the ones causing 80% of the impact and ignore the 20% least important) you would want to fix such a sign.
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