Hello again - I hope you had a good weekend and didn't have to sit in too many delays coming home from either Bike Week, the Cape, work, or a cookout!
Let's jump right into the mailbag. You can submit your own question using the form to the right.
Barb from Ipswich writes:
I commute to Boston daily via Route 1 and the Tobin Bridge. How long can I expect the backup from the bridge to Route 95, now that there is a lane reduction and repairs being made? The commute was bad anyway. Now it's impossible.
(Emma from Peabody wrote in with a similar question.)
That's a tough backup to sit in, both going to work and coming home. Barb, lanes on the Tobin are set to be restricted until the fall of 2014 because state highway workers are cleaning and painting the bridge. Some good news: they are planning to do the repairs in spurts. This current round of painting is scheduled to be set up only until November, at which point they'll stop for the winter and start up again in the spring of 2013.
Two lanes are still getting by, but it's a different sort of lane restriction. They've closed the left and right lanes, but essentially split those each in half to form the new travel lanes, which run straight down the middle of the road. This is to allow more room for shielding, which is supposed to keep the paint from dripping into the water, getting on cars, etc. They'll also be doing sandblasting and other cleaning activities, so they need all the room they can get while still keeping traffic moving.
There's more information on the MassDOT Tobin Bridge site.
I'd offer you some good workarounds, but there really aren't many. Route 99 is restricted by construction on the Alford Street Bridge, so you're already seeing more backups than usual there. 128 is all sorts of messy getting over to I-93 these days. My traffic cohorts tell me they see practically stopped traffic from Lynnfield on 128 South straight to 93 for hours during the morning drive! Routes 60 and 1A are jammed in the mornings already trying to get through the East Boston area. Your best bet? Consider the MBTA ... or just give yourself lots of extra time.
Dawn from Somerville writes:
I finally upgraded to a smartphone, and I'm looking forward to downloading apps for both pleasure and information. This may not exactly be a traffic question, but what are your favorite apps for the T? I don't have a car, so I rely on the T and buses to get everywhere I have to go, and I'm really excited to have a better idea of when I can catch a train. Problem is, there are so many apps, it's hard to narrow down which to choose.
First and foremost: welcome to the smartphone club! I can't imagine going back to my old flip phone, although many people I know are having troubles committing to the big switch. Secondly, I can attest to the helpful-ness of these apps. I use a few myself, and I'll get to that in a minute. But your question actually brought to mind some newer apps that I think should be featured...
The MBTA recently opened up registration for a new app that directly affects commuter rail riders. They're calling it "Mobile Ticketing". Starting this fall, commuter rail passengers will be able to link their passes or fare cards with their phones. Androids, iPhones and Blackberries will all be able to use the app.
In a press release, the MBTA said it's looking to cut costs and avoid installing new fare kiosks at stations. By moving fare collection to a more electronic method, officials believe they'll be able to make the system more efficient and save some money, too.
You may ask why Charlie Cards aren't being considered as solutions. MBTA officials say putting that system into place on the commuter rail could cost them up to $70 million.
The program is set to roll out on a limited basis this summer, and the full system should be online this fall. Sign up here.
Also, the MBTA just released a new "See Something Say Something" app. Looks like it's available only for iPhone and iPad, at least at this point, but with any luck it'll be rolled out for Android soon.
It's a pretty novel idea - not only does the app link you directly to Transit Police if you see something suspicious, but it shuts off your phone's camera flash so you can discreetly take a photo of what you're witnessing at that moment. If you're underground in an area without cell service, it'll automatically send the report as soon as you're back in an area with service. It also provides up-to-the-minute security alerts and has info for travelers, such as maps of the system.
Check out some screenshots, learn more about the app, and get your own here.
As for my favorite apps, I can only speak to Android, as that's the type of phone I have. I use CatchTheBus, which is available for Android and iPhone platforms. I like that you can save your favorite stops on the bus routes, but it also gives you a pretty comprehensive T schedule as well.
The MBTA has a whole list of apps that they recommend, and you can find that here.
Readers: Which apps do you like the best? Send me your choices and I'll feature them later on this week in my next post. I'd like to know what else is out there.
By the way: I have not received, nor do I want, any compensation from any app developers or companies mentioned in this post. The apps mentioned are simply ones I've chosen on my own for personal use.
The author is solely responsible for the content.