Voting for the MBTA's New Perspectives MBTA Map Re-design contest is well underway. As a self-described transit nerd, of course this is something that's right up my alley (and, if you're reading this blog, I'm assuming it's something that probably interests you too).
If you're not familiar with what the contest is all about, essentially the T put the call out to designers and artists (as well as other transit nerds!) to put their own spin on the well-known T map. There were dozens of entries, but a panel has narrowed it down to just a few for the public to choose from.
Here's my thoughts on the top six entries...FULL ENTRY
In the words of a very popular camel, "Uh-oh. Guess what day it is?!"
(Technically, yes, it is "hump day", but that's not what I'm going for here.)
Yes, it's that time of year again - some call it "Allston Christmas", some call it the "student exodus" ... whatever your name for it, the next week or so is going to bring a flood of new arrivals to the city. If you're one of them and have come to this blog for commuting advice, welcome and thanks for stopping by! If there's one thing you need to keep in mind, please remember this:
Do not, under any circumstances (unless being chased by raptors, and even then), bring your moving truck on the river roads. And, if you do, follow the signs! There's an example in the photo above. If you see one of these, DO NOT KEEP GOING. Otherwise, you will likely end up like one of these unfortunate souls and that's just not fun for anyone involved. (Check out the gallery - I think the Weinermobile could have made it without help.)
For more tips, here's the gallery I put together for last year's move-in that provides a general overview of the ins and outs of getting around the city. If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments and I'll be sure to answer them!FULL ENTRY
There's more and more of those VMS boards popping up on area highways - VMS meaning "Variable Message Signs":
My pal Emil wrote to me recently with an inquiry about the content on these boards:
"I remember a while ago, there was a big stink about "GO SOX" and "GO PATS" showing up on VMS boards on the Pike, and how the boards should only be used to motorist info. Now, I'm seeing them with messages reminding me to renew my registration, and more recently, telling me that fireworks are illegal, and I'm subject to arrest or a fine. A couple of years ago, when they were having that beetle problem in Worcester, they said we shouldn't move firewood. If they're going to put these things up, then I'm OK with "GO BRUINS!" or other such messages.
I kind of question ones like "OUI: Over the limit, under arrest/Use designated driver". I don't think I know anyone who *doesn't* know that driving under the influence is a crime, and I honestly don't think that seeing that message on the highway will make someone think "I should get Charlie to drive, so I can get plastered!" The same goes for the warnings about texting and driving. Most reasonable people know they shouldn't be doing that, regardless of whether they still do it anyway.
Anyway, would you be interested in quizzing your contacts at MassDOT about what is and isn't appropriate for messages on VMS boards, and why I'm seeing more messages that aren't related to motorist info?"
What a response I got from my last entry about the Longfellow Bridge! Thanks for all your input - and thank you to all of those who wrote in with your transportation-related questions. I've got feelers out on many of them and am working to get you answers as fast as possible. If you're curious about something transportation related around the city, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can't wait to hear from you.
By the way, if you're looking for the VMS story, I'm still putting some finishing touches on it - look for it to be published by the end of the week! Here's some other tidbits for you until then...
Katerina from Cambridge wrote in:
My commute each day takes me down Nashua Street by Spaulding Rehab and the county Jail. For the past few weeks it's been really difficult to get through there because the road is constantly being torn up. You never know when the work is going to be taking place which is equally annoying. Traffic's being rerouted a lot and the delays can be long at times. Do you know if this is going to take too much longer?FULL ENTRY
So tonight I took a ride over the Longfellow Bridge on my way home from work. It's going to be the last time for a while that I'll be able to scoot over to Cambridge that way, as they'll be shutting down Cambridge-bound traffic starting Saturday. For up to three years.FULL ENTRY
There's been word all week about the DOT closing down two popular ramps to the O'Neill Tunnel and Zakim Bridge northbound for work over the weekend. However, the wet weather has foiled the plans, and it looks like that won't be happening.
Michael Verseckes of the DOT says the work was going to be taking place on the ramps from Haymarket Square and the Sumner Tunnel. They were set to be closed at 8:00 PM tonight and 10:00 PM tomorrow night. There's been no word as to when the work will be rescheduled for, but of course, when I find out, I'll pass it on.
Keep in mind, though - there's more in the way of closures coming up in the next few days...FULL ENTRY
Commuters in Leominster are about to be a little more inconvenienced.
If you've been utilizing the shuttle service provided by the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority that runs from the Mall at Whitney Field to the North Leominster Intermodal Transportation Center, we're now learning that's not going to be an option come July 1st. What's going on?FULL ENTRY
Stephen, a reader of the blog, wrote in to me recently. He said, in part:
"... I saw that the Mass DOT said the Chelsea Street bridge will be closed weeknights until July 1st. While this may not seem to be a big thing it is for the thousand of us that work at Logan Airport. The employee garage sits just across from this bridge and when the bridge is closed it takes a 10 minute bus ride and turns it into a 20 to 30 minute bus ride and that’s each way.
The bridge was completed (supposedly) last May at I believe the cost of over $200 million dollars to the taxpayers and there has hardly been a week in this past year that it hasn’t been closed at night for something. Do you think you could find out why this bridge never seems to be working properly and when it will finally be open and functioning as designed and paid for with our money?"FULL ENTRY
So you're sitting on the Green Line, for example, at Copley Station. Your phone's not showing any sign of service, as you're used to in that stretch of tunnel. All of a sudden, you hear what you think is a ringtone. Really? Underground? Here?
Sure enough, the train starts going, and someone starts up a loud conversation. (Which, as any courteous T rider knows, is just downright rude, but that's for the Courtesy Critters to determine.) Wait a minute. There's cell phone service here? Why are they having a conversation and I'm stuck here, devoid of connectivity (as pleasant as that may be at the time)?FULL ENTRY
It would be difficult to argue that traffic here in Boston, at times, is anything but mind-numbingly horrible. Think about it - especially in the summer, on a Friday evening ... a commute that normally takes you half an hour can jam up to easily two or three hours.
Every so often, a survey comes out comparing our traffic to other cities - and, this time, a survey by INRIX, a traffic information group, has put us in the top ten (but just barely!).FULL ENTRY