Happening Now

Whistle Stop (and Delay & Cancel) While You Work

April 18, 2019

by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator

“And isn't it ironic, l don't you think” - Alanis Morissette

So I mentioned in last week’s Hotline that I was invited to give some brief remarks at a Regional Rail “Whistle Stop” event hosted by TransitMatters and Grow Smart RI.

It was a great event attended by many local Rhode Island advocates and elected officials. The Mayor of Providence was there and spoke about being open to new ideas in transportation and looking forward some of the local mobility initiatives they have planned. TransitMatters’ COO Jarred Johnson and RIARP Chairman Peter Brassard spoke more in-depth about the regional rail plan (something that was covered during RailNation DC) and how it would more directly affect the Providence to Boston line.

I was there to talk about potential funding mechanisms and how FAST Act reauthorization could be used as part of the planning process - to allow state agencies to cut through the red tape and be able to find partnership from the federal government. A lot of what was talked about by Jarred and Peter are things that we have brought up in the draft of reauthorization proposals: optimizing fare collection, encouraging through-running stations (the North-South Rail Link, for example), and creating more infill stations along the line to run a more rapid transit system over the current commuter rail lines. I reiterated a lot of these ideas and solidified our local commitment to help advocate for these changes through our “Northeast office”.

During the Q&A that followed, a question came up about Amtrak’s role in this based on their agreements with CTrail on the Hartford Line and the “step up” ticketing deal between them and the VRE. While there is no answer at the moment due to this still being more on the advocacy side, but it something that I really hope to keep on top of - especially with the NEC being the backbone of regional train travel here.

But speaking of Amtrak….

For the “you just can’t make this up” file. What happens when the MBTA does their best to strand a half dozen passenger rail and transportation advocates (including anyone else waiting to get home from Rhode Island at 9:30 at night on a Tuesday)? The train that a bunch of us were trying to get on was delayed by 30 mins and then ultimately cancelled - and then, as the above tweet states, the following train was running 45 mins behind schedule. Three of the people I was with ended up sharing a Lyft ride back to Boston while myself and one other booked tickets on the 11 pm Acela. The last, who was running the TransitMatters twitter account that evening, ended up being the sole survivor and waited for the MBTA train to arrive.

We all go to Rhode Island to advocate for better, faster, and more reliable service - only to be kicked in the rear by the current sad state of the system.

Isn’t it ironic?