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An open letter to Sandy, and the wrath of Strollercat

Posted by Nichole Davis  November 2, 2012 02:37 PM

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Dear Hurricane / Superstorm / Extratropical / Disastrous Sandy: You and I are in a fight.

None of my family, friends or their families have lost their lives. I am very lucky (although I did like that little sapling in the backyard). I hope my readers are lucky as well in that regard. I hope they and their families are safe, and did not suffer too much damage to their homes or businesses.

It was a busy couple of days here in the traffic operations center, and you kept us running around like crazy. I was pleased to see that there weren't too many accidents because people mostly heeded the warnings to stay home ... we saw just a few spinouts from time to time. The T was only down for a couple days (mostly due to all those trees you threw on the D line tracks - way to go), and Amtrak seems to be getting back to normal.

But you really, really messed with a lot of people south of here. Transportation-wise, you have managed to cripple the largest city in America. New York City's subways will take months to repair and fully get back on-line. Traffic remains gridlocked across Manhattan. Many of my traffic cohorts in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are dealing with no power, flooded homes and vehicles, and a world of hurt on so many levels. Let's not even mention the dozens of people you have killed.

It will be very interesting to see how the Jersey Shore, Staten Island, Queens, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island and the Connecticut and Rhode Island shorelines recover from this. I will also be curious to see how the MTA, Metro-North, Amtrak, and PATH move forward from this experience to better prepare for these sorts of storms. Weather systems like you don't come around that often, Sandy, but you really make those of us that do this sort of work remember why we do.

Tell your other hurricane-y friends to leave us be here in the Northeast for a while.

Signed, Me

Feel free to leave stories of how Sandy affected you in the comments, or toss me an email. Are you dealing with road closures, power problems, anything of the like? I want to hear your story.

Under the cut, we have the saga of #strollercat, some good news for the MBTA, and your usual construction and T diversions.

Introducing Strollercat

The Red Line during rush hour is already busy enough.

Not only do you have people pushing, shoving, and cajoling their way into every inch that's possibly open on a train, but if you add a few strollers and large bags of luggage into the mix, it becomes downright difficult.

One wouldn't imagine that a tiny cat would have anything to do with that, right?
Oh, but he sure did. Enter Jacoby the Abyssinian, a very cute cat that has curious eyes and his own ride.

(Wait, his own ride? You mean a cat carrier, right?)
Not quite. Jacoby traipses around the Boston Metro area in a very large baby stroller.

Naturally, there were some very displeased riders, as evidenced in this tweet reported by UniversalHub:

Lady with a cat in full-sized/meant for children stroller preventing me and 8 other saps from going on T. #wtf #catbitch #mbta

Apparently, according to comments on Twitter and the UniversalHub article, this woman has been taking her cat around the area in this stroller for quite some time, and says the cat likes it, despite several observances to the contrary. Now, I'm not a cat owner, so I'm not going to be one to comment on how the cat actually likes or dislikes this practice, but I can't imagine that my dog would enjoy it, so I'm assuming the cat doesn't either.

So, what do the higher-ups at the T have to say about this? Well, here's their policy for pets on the train - which, of course, excludes service animals, which are always allowed:

During off-peak hours, non-service dogs are allowed at the discretion of T vehicle operators. Dogs must be properly leashed and are not allowed to annoy riders or take up a seat. For safety and convenience during rush hours, small domestic animals must be carried in lap-sized containers and out of the way of exits.

I think I would stretch to call a double-decker baby stroller a "lap sized container". Although, #strollercat was also seen very recently not in his stroller, but utilizing another form of transportation. Either way, having (up until recently) been a daily MBTA rider, I can tell you that I would be pretty annoyed if a cat in a stroller was taking up precious rush-hour space.

You can follow Strollercat on Twitter at @strollercat (unsure if that is the actual cat or just a parody account - opposable thumbs are probably helpful to tweet, but you never know with iPads and whatnot). More on #strollercat here.

Do you think Strollercat needs to take a hiatus from T-ing?

More of you need to move to the center of the train

Speaking of, if you've been feeling like your rides on the T each day have been getting a bit more crowded as the weeks go on, well, you're not wrong.

The latest figures from the T now show that weekday overall ridership (subway, bus, commuter rail, etc) continues to climb. New numbers show that in the past year (September '11 - September '12), ridership jumped almost two percent. They say that's the second month in a row that the figures are on the up and up. Acting General Manager Jonathan Davis said in a statement from MassDOT that he feels the numbers are truly positive, as September is a month when most people are back to school and not on vacation -- so that tends to reflect ridership on a more consistent basis.

Just how many trips are we talking here? Individual rides per weekday amount to over 1.3 million. These numbers somewhat buck the trend that analysts had considered when the fare hikes took place this past summer, as ridership was expected to drop almost 6 percent.

When it comes to your various MBTA methods, here's how the numbers broke down:

  • Bus ridership: up 2.3%
  • Subway ridership: up 3%
  • RIDE ... ridership: down 15%
  • Commuter rail ridership: down .2%

So, it's a bit of a wash. Have you found yourself riding the T more often, even with the hike in fares? Do you think it's a better way to commute than sitting on the Expressway or any other highway to battle the crowds? Let me know in the comments.

MBTA Matters

Green Line "D" branch riders have had a heck of a week when it comes to service problems as it is, what with the storm damage and all -- now, weekend track work is going to be putting riders back on buses both Saturday and Sunday. The busing will be taking place between Reservoir and Riverside, and the shuttle buses are planned to make all stops. Be sure to expect significant delays.

Orange Line riders are used to the diversions each weeknight for work on the Assembly Square project ... but, now, those diversions will be affecting service during the weekend as well -- that is, at least this weekend. Starting tonight at 9:00 through the end of service, busing will replace all service between Oak Grove and Sullivan Square. The buses will make all stops. "Normal" service will start back up again on Monday - but, don't forget, that just means the busing will only take place from 9:00 PM to the end of service on weeknights.

Red Line busing from Alewife to Harvard will be starting up in two weekends, beginning November 17th and lasting almost every weekend until the middle of December. I'll update you more on that next week.

You'll find slowdowns here...

93 northbound at Montvale Avenue (Exit 37), Woburn: watch for bridge work on Thursday between 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM in the right travel lane.

Route 3A at Cambridge Street, Boston: the shoulder will be consistently blocked in both directions for utility work on Wednesday and Thursday.

Route 1 in both directions at Essex Street, Saugus: the left lane will be blocked on Wednesday from 5:00 AM to 1:00 PM for street sweeping.

Route 3A northbound at Winn Street, Burlington: the left lane will be closed from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM for utility work on Monday and Tuesday.

95 northbound at Route 1 (Exit 50), Danvers: two right lanes will be blocked for bridge maintenance Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

128 southbound at Route 1 (Exit 15), Dedham: two left lanes will be blocked on Tuesday from 8:00 PM to midnight for road work.

Mass Pike eastbound over 391, Chicopee: the median and shoulder will be closed for ongoing bridge work until further notice.

Route 9 eastbound at the Hammond Pond Parkway, Newton: expect heavy delays due to ongoing paving work Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

128 northbound at Washington Street (Exit 36), Woburn: continuous road work blocks the right shoulder 24-7 Monday through Friday. Expect slowdowns.

Route 128 in both directions, between Route 109 (Exit 16) and Great Plain Avenue (Exit 18), Dedham - Needham: ongoing road widening project blocks the left lane through most weekday middays and overnights. Expect significant delays and possible blockages of the active breakdown lane.

Route 128 in both directions, between Route 38, Woburn (Exit 35) and Route 3, Burlington (Exits 32 A/B): left lane is closed for ongoing median work. Lane restrictions and shifts are in place. Expect heavy delays.

Route 1 Northbound between Main Street and Noah's Motors, Saugus: right lanes are closed weekday nights between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. for water main installation.

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.

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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