Greetings! Back in the saddle after an absolutely crazy week. How about those storms on Wednesday, huh? Did you or your home suffer any damage from the weather? Hopefully everything turned out all right. We had some blinking traffic lights in my neighborhood, but that was about it.
Anyway, to make up for my mid-week post being non-existent, I have a review for you today of the MBTA See-Say Something app... we'll also talk about a baby gone roaming on the Expressway ... and I'll have some construction spots and MBTA detours.
Earlier in the week I reported that Elerts had released their Android version of their "See Say Something" app that's out for the entire MBTA system. I downloaded it and gave it a whirl. Here's a walk-through of the app and my thoughts...
When you download the app, you're first asked to choose which lines you'd like to receive up-to-the-minute alerts on. I chose several subway lines, and would have chosen some bus lines, but it seems the "Bus" section is buggy - whenever I tried to choose a line, such as the 66, it would actually choose something completely different. Hopefully someone will catch on and fix that quickly.
You're also asked to give personal information - your name, phone number, and email address. It's an optional choice, which is good, but the program says it's information for the MBTA to contact you easier in case of emergency. Still, I'm not so sure I want the T knowing my number off hand, but others might not mind so much.
When you're all set up, an alert comes through and walks you through how to send a test report. I really like this aspect of the app, as it allows you to get acquainted hands-on so you'll know what to do in case you actually DO run into an emergency situation. Watching a fire burn up the tracks at Downtown Crossing is not the time to try to learn how to use an app that's supposed to easily connect you to Transit Police.
It's relatively simple: the app utilizes your camera to take a photo of whatever it is you'd like to report. The photos are not the clearest, so if you're looking for quality, take a photo with your regular camera instead (if you have time) and then upload it to the app from your library. You can then write a blurb about the photo, choose which type of report you're submitting (for the test - be sure to use the TEST - THIS IS ONLY A TEST option), and then select which line of the MBTA is affected.
Another interesting thing about the app is that you have the choice to submit the problem anonymously, even if you've put your personal information into the program setup. I like this option, because I think you'll have a better chance of someone reporting something that might not normally if they had to attach their name to it. That way, at least Transit Police'll have a tip, and they can then move forward with what they've got.
After a report is sent, you then get a copy of your report and a confirmation that it was sent (if it was). You have the option to reply directly to those with more information, or to other alerts that have been sent to your phone. Say, for example, you hear that there's a disabled vehicle on the tracks on the B Line at Washington Street. If you happen to be there, you can take a picture and send it in reply to the alert, or you can just send more details about the situation and what you're seeing.
It tracks you via GPS, so if you aren't ok with that, you may want to consider turning that option off. I also noticed that the program kept running in the background, despite hitting the "Home" button. This keeps your GPS running, which could wear down your battery, so keep that in mind as well.
Of course, you also have the option to just call Transit Police as well, if the need is there. There's a large button on the program's home screen to do so. Hard to miss.
My thoughts? The app, while buggy at times, is a great start for T riders to have more open communication with the MBTA to try to improve the rides. I hope the "anonymous" option is truly so, and that some tracking information isn't sent along with the message, but not being an app programmer, I wouldn't know off-hand. Of course, delays and trouble spots and other problems are sometimes inevitable, but at least this gives the rider another outlet to get more information about the system that they pay for -- and to be just that much more involved in how it all works.
You can download the app on the Google Play store, or just click here.
I have a bit of a soft spot for animals, not going to lie. I tear up a bit at those ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan as they show the sad pups and kittens. Growing up in the rural parts of Central New Hampshire, I used to see baby bears and want one as a pet. I may or may not have named the rabbits that live in my parking lot. ("Trogdor", if you were wondering - if you click that, prepare for stupid geek humor, which I tend to enjoy)
Anyway, so when I saw this story come over the line the other day, I got a little choked up. A poor baby deer somehow made its way into the zipper lane on the Expressway over the weekend. Remember, it was very hot and muggy all weekend long! It was stuck, and couldn't move. Workers eventually found the exhausted little one while heading out to set up the HOV lane for morning drive this past Monday.
“She was very warm from being outdoors so we brought her in the machine and let her stay in the A/C before bringing her back to the garage,” said Bodoin, who also said he was careful not to spook her so she wouldn’t dart into traffic. The MassDOT workers let the baby deer munch on grass and provided it with drinking water. “She must’ve drank two gallons,” said Bodoin.
The workers who found the deer say they've never seen one out there before - although they have seen house pets and bunny rabbits. Animals may roam, but this is a pretty impressive feat! I'm just glad they found her before something worse could have happened.
Do you have any weird animal stories from your travels? Leave them in the comments or email me and I'll get them up next week.
Riders of the Ashmont span on the Red Line are stuck with busing in place again this weekend in both directions. The buses will make all stops between JFK/UMass and Ashmont between the start of service Saturday until the end of service Sunday. The MBTA says the busing is needed for crews to perform necessary track work on the span. This won't be the last busing weekend for the summer, either... the MBTA says they'll be doing the same for two weekends in August.
Don't forget, normal users of the Quincy Center garage - MBTA officials still have the garage closed indefinitely due to structural concerns. The MBTA suggests you use the Quincy Adams, Braintree and North Quincy stations as alternates. Good news, though, if you're heading to the Quincy Adams garage for this diversion... officials have opened up over 100 more parking spots for use, and have opened a street-level entrance for the garage via the Burgin Parkway, so there's no need to get onto 93 or Route 3 to access the garage.
Orange line busing continues between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square each Sunday through Thursday night until December 28. Diversions start up at 9:00 each evening and will last until the end of service that night. The shuttle buses will make all stops. Officials for the T say the diversion is necessary as track, signal, and power work are all being done in that stretch to continue the Assembly Square Project.
You'll find brake lights here...
O'Neill Tunnel in both directions, Boston: expect multiple lane closures between Government Center (Exit 23) and Storrow Drive (Exit 26) for continuous maintenance work.
Storrow Drive Tunnel, both directions, by Leverett Circle (Boston): expect complete closures and detours Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
Route 1 Northbound between Main Street and Noah's Motors, Saugus: right lane is closed weekday nights between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. for water main installation.
Mass Pike East at the Prudential Center tunnel: expect all travel lanes closed at various times Sunday through Thursday, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Follow posted detours.
North Harvard Street over the Larz Anderson Bridge: Continual lane closures are in effect in both directions for bridge reconstruction work. No left turn onto Memorial Drive from JFK Street.
Tobin Bridge in both directions: Watch for continual lane closures as DOT crews continue to paint the bridge. These will be in effect until November.
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