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The four "D"s, and the least wonderful time of the year

Posted by Nichole Davis  August 29, 2012 06:31 PM

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Hello again. Tonight I've got a few stories that have been floating around -- including some interesting insight on behind-closed-doors customer service training at MassDOT, some new places where you could receive tickets, and some prep for the week ahead.

Friday I'll have your out of town slowdowns and MBTA diversions for the weekend, per usual.

Let's jump right in!

Not just a number

There's plenty of horror stories from drivers and riders alike about bad customer service-- or, just bad customers -- on the MBTA. They don't just stop there, though. MassDOT agencies and projects statewide are subject to, at times, scathing criticisms. The Department says they're trying to change that around the city and state.

A class held at "MassDOT University" on customer service strives to teach employees of the Department how to better handle what they call the "four D's" on a daily basis: different, difficult, and dangerous situations -- as well as discourteous public employees.

Maggie Pelletier taught the class this past Tuesday and asked the 15 students attending how they would feel encountering a "half-hearted" employee or service.

“Leave the Red Sox out of this!” a Green Line operator called. Pelletier smiled.

“No matter what the interaction is, we’re not tired, we’re not impatient,” she said. “We’re knowledgeable, courteous, friendly employees.”

Easier said than done, said Wanda Hervey, a bus driver. “Sometimes you’re tired, you’re beat down, you know what I’m saying?” she said... After steering a bus along cramped streets, interacting with riders, and keeping the line moving at the fare box, Hervey regularly reaches the end of her route with just five minutes to exhale and find a rest-room, though she is often stopped by customers with questions before she gets there. And that is a good day.

Officials say at least 3,500 students have gone through the course, entitled "How Can I Help You?" since February of 2011. It's not the only class that the "University" offers - but it's the one that is required for those workers who have any sort of public interaction in their job descriptions. This, according to the article, includes plow drivers and transit project hearing holders. Full article here.

Do you think the course has helped boost levels of customer service on the T and in other MassDOT extensions? Or do you think it's just a waste of time and taxpayer money to teach people the basics they should already know when they take the job?

The box

You see signs all over Manhattan about it. "Don't block the box". Now, Boston's catching on to the idea - and if you're one of those people who loves to hang out in the middle of intersections, you very well may have a problem.

Steve Annear at Bostinno reports that there's been some pushes lately by law enforcement to ticket those who are "blocking the box" -- that is, those who enter an intersection without enough time to make it to the other side before the light changes.

Now, the state of Massachusetts does have rules on the books about this sort of thing... and Mayor Menino is reminding Boston drivers about that:

“Drivers who venture into an intersection when it is impossible to drive through it cause traffic gridlock and pose a threat to pedestrians and people in wheelchairs by blocking crosswalks and interrupting the ‘walk’ cycles at traffic signals. This is in violation of existing state law and, in a busy city like Boston, it is imperative that this rule of the road is followed,” said Mayor Tom Menino in a statement.

You'll start to see new signs going up warning of the $150 fine in the areas where blocking is most often occurring during high traffic times. You'll also start to see a heavier police presence in those areas, and probably some more sheepish people receiving some tickets for trying to scoot through when they really didn't have time to do it. Full article, including the targeted intersections, here.

Do you think these changes will help traffic in these gridlocked areas of Boston, including the Longwood Medical Area? Or will it just make it worse?

It begins...

Some call this "the most wonderful time of the year". Others, such as residents of Boston, including myself, call it... well, words I can't really place on such an esteemed website.

It's student move-in time, and, of course, that means you're going to find tons of extra traffic, rife with UHauls and trailers and overpacked minivans and tourists still sticking around and those from out of town that have no idea what a one-way street is.

I'll have more later in the week about the situation, including a run-down of the basics of Boston traffic. (The biggest thing you need to know - you cannot take UHauls or large vans or trucks on Storrow or Memorial Drives! Don't be that guy.)

But, for now, I wanted to pass on a link from BU with an interactive map of street closures along Commonwealth Avenue over the next week-ish. It's pretty comprehensive, and with Allston being a huge problem spot when it comes to this time of year, this could be of some help.

Leave me other URL's in the comments if you know of any other schools doing something like this.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Nichole Davis is a Boston-based traffic reporter and news anchor. She’s been seen and heard on television and radio airwaves across New England since 2003, providing commuters with all the More »

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