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Rush-hour shutdown just one highlight of MBTA's unforgettably bad week

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  January 25, 2013 06:29 PM

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Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Freezing commuters walked to buses Wednesday morning after a smoldering cable shut down the Green Line.

Rush-hour shutdown just one highlight of MBTA's unforgettably bad week

Storified by Jeremy C. Fox· Fri, Jan 25 2013 15:21:09

It's nothing unusual for the MBTA to have a bad week -- some would say it happens three or four times a month. But a week that includes a three-hour shutdown of a vital rail line at rush hour is something special. 

That's just what happened Wednesday morning, in case you were lucky enough to miss it. Starting around 8 a.m., the T shut down Green Line service from Kenmore Square to Government Center because a smoldering cable was found in Arlington station. 

The T sent shuttle buses to replace the trains, but hundreds were forced to wait outside on one of the coldest mornings of the year, with temperatures nearing the single digits, according to the National Weather Service. 

By the time service had resumed at 11 a.m., dozens of riders had tweeted about the disruption, making this the busiest week in the one-year history of the #MBTAannoy hashtag. 

One of the earliest warnings came from Marissa, shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday:
The green line is a NIGHTMARE this morning. If you haven't left yet, just walk. It'll be faster. #mbtaannoyMarissa Breton
She couldn't have known then how right she was. With a big chunk of the system shut down for three hours, commuters could have crab-walked to work faster. 

A few minutes later, McKenzie expressed concern about her train:
I'm dreading the part when my green line train gets to downtown. Will I even make it? God knows. #mbtaannoyMcKenzie Lawton
Then she learned that a slow train was the least of her worries: 
Shuttle buses running from kenmore to all inbound stops. May god have mercy on our souls #mbtaannoy @universalhubMcKenzie Lawton
After McKenzie, the deluge began:
That no green line trains would be leaving for over an hour. This always happens when I try to be early. #mbtaannoyKristen
Uh, you might want to avoid the green line this morning. Orange line not looking so great either. #mbtaannoycharlene mcbride
Today is the day I hate the #MBTA more than I ever had. "All Green Line Service Temporarily Suspended." #mbtaannoy Lauren B
@mbtaGM no green line shuttle service?!?!? It's 0 and I'm walking from Copley to kenmore!!! #Boston #MBTA #mbtaannoyIn and Around Town
What's going on, MBTA? Can't run when it's cold? We only live in New England, after all! #mbta #MBTAFail #mbtaannoy #redlineJ. Levine
Cool the entire green line is down, and the b line only goes to blandford. Start of a good day #mbta #mbtaannoyJon Nguyen
Guess I'm not surprised that the green line is shut down on the coldest day of the year #mbtaannoyAmanda Gaughan
Kenmore mess is inexcusable ! #mbta #mbtaannoyDarren Mackiewicz
This is why I hate the T @mbtaGM #MBTAannoy http://pic.twitter.com/e3g5LbcZKNRuval
@mbtaGM: "Green Line Power and Electrical Problem" I wonder how much productivity is lost every year due to MBTA problems. #MBTAannoy #failKNRuval
The Green Line is stuck half a stop away and it's 10 degrees out. #mbtaannoy http://pic.twitter.com/tf2MOXHTAnne Steele
between 3 half-full 9 buses flying past me and the green line totally shut down beyond arlington, i sure had a great morning! #MBTAAnnoyannie h
Oh, just me and several hundred of my closest friends waiting for a shuttle bus at Kenmore. #MBTAannoy @universalhub http://twitpic.com/bxm1spKyle W. Kerr
I wonder if @mbtaGM will reimburse me for being an hour late to work #mbtaannoyRed Zmudzien
My 503 bus just randomly did not show up today, so I had to take the 57 to the T. And the T is shut down. #mbtaannoyJulia
Maybe the @mbta_alerts should just say "don't take the t today". 1 hour 15 minutes to get to work. Usually 10 minutes. #mbtaannoys.w.p.
bus driver for shuttle replacing green line in from Kenmore: 'I don't even know where I'm going!' reassuring. #mbtaannoyEmily Files
Nothing like dealing with a whole host of #MBTA issues on the coldest day of the year. With a double bass. #MBTAAnnoy.Luke Sutherland
Two HOTT Crew members stranded with the Red and Green line shut downs today. #mbtaannoy #frigidHotties on the T
So when you said "Shuttle bus is across the street" what you meant was "Walk all the way to Kenmore." #communication #mbtaannoyElise
You would think that after 115 yrs of operating in Boston, the T would know by know by now how to run when temps drop. #mbtaannoy #mbtaHotties on the T
Usual 35 minute commute took over two hours because the #MBTA is on fire. Yeah. I'm just gonna leave it at that... #MBTAannoyKyle W. Kerr
For at least Jeremiah and Benjamin, the Green Line didn't get much better on the commute home: 
Green line was a mess when I went in this morning and its still a mess now. #MBTA #mbtaannoy #BostonJeremiah Robinson
Green line plauged with problems all day. Morning with power problem at Arlington and Afternoon with disabled trains. #MBTAannoyBenjamin Chan
One local startup saw the shutdown as a promotional opportunity: 
Commuters, promo FREEZING will get you $5 off your 1st Hailo taxi. The T is down. Take a Hailo cab! http://hailo.to/gimq2 #MBTA #MbtaAnnoyHailoBoston
And it made one commuter look forward to this column: 
@GlobeDavidD you are going to have a lot of material after today's debacle with the green line! #MBTAannoy #mbtaKNRuval
@knr1976 Sounds like a #MBTAannoy commute on the Green Line today. @jeremycfox will be ready to take it all in.David Dahl
As bad as Wednesday morning was, that wasn't the Green Line's only problem:
Why the E line disruption also disrupt every other green train? Furthermore, why the MBTA doesn't alert us of this? #mbtaannoygehenna
“@BostonDotCom: MBTA: Mobile apps will be able to track Green Line trains by 2015 // efficient as always @mbtaGM #MBTAannoyKNRuval
Oh goody, #MBTA green line to have countdown clocks... by 2015. #mbtabrag #mbtaannoy http://bo.st/11PK8CLArthur Liu
After yesterday's mess, today, at 3 F, the green line only opens the front door! no worries, we'll freeze a little more @mbtagm #mbtaannoyKNRuval
6 inbound trains to FINALLY 1 outbound green line b train. Ended up taking a cab after waiting it out in this frigid weather #mbtaannoyAmanda Gaughan
And the Red Line had its issues as well, some of them worsened by the Green Line shutdown: 
ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY T INTO CAMBRIDGE. -- I need a Fellowship for this ish. #mbta #MBTAannoy_veritaserum
How is there a #redline train ahead of us at #Ashmont? I had to wait 10 minutes for a train at downtownxing. #mbtaannoyJoy Mitschke
#mbtaGM every morning the same lines @ 1 functioning parking ticket machine in Braintree How is this better than old system? #mbtaannoyrev8056
These decrepit 44 y/o Red Line trains are wonderful lights going on & off @ random keeps you guessing #mbtaannoy #mbtaGM #mbtarev8056
PA on decrepit Red Line trains have 2 volume settings mumble & make your ears bleed #mbtaannoyrev8056
@MBTA DISABLED RED LINE, OUTBOUND. #StopWastingMoney get #TSAoutofMBTA #FixTheTrains #MBTAAnnoyDefend the 4th
Coldest day of the winter and the red line is running late. Extremely late. @mbtaGM #MBTAannoy #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
.@mbta_alerts @mbtaGM the red line is running 30+ minutes late. Trains are coming too full, people cannot get on. #MBTAannoy #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
Only 4 more disabled trains to go for Red Line to ties last year's AM rush record of 7 #mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
Only 3 more disabled trains to go on the Red Line to break last years record of 7 during a rush hour Great job as usual #mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
I waited 53 minutes for a red line train. Now it is moving very slowly. @mbtaGM #MBTAannoy #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
@mbtaGM 50 min wait to catch a train at wollaston seems like par for the course #mbtaannoyRed Zmudzien
.@mbta_alerts Another disabled train? @mbtaGM I need to get to work! #GeItTogether #MBTAannoy #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
Now we are standing by at JFK for schedule adjustment?! The Ashmont train is going ahead of us?! @mbtaGM I need to get to work! #MBTAannoySabrinaTheWiseLatina
It took me 2 hours to get to work on the red line. The worst commute ever. @mbtaGM #MBTAannoy #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
9:30am, Now a half hour late to work; only at Broadway #MBTAannoy sitting at JFK with the doors open for 20 minutes was great btwKatia
How is there a #redline train ahead of us at #Ashmont? I had to wait 10 minutes for a train at downtownxing. #mbtaannoyRandee Jamieson
Red line delayed all this morning. Took 10 minutes to ride from south station to park st. #MBTAannoyBenjamin Chan
Is 810AM no longer qualify for #MBTA rush hour? Why 10 minutes for the #redline? @MBTA #mbtaannoyWilliam Holbrook
Only 4 notifications today of Red Line service delays from 6-9am. Should that be considered progress? The new normal? #mbtaannoy #mbtaHotties on the T
#mbtaannoy when does #redline not have a disabled train? #tgif #mbtaBryan Berube
. @mbtaGM The red line is running late, again! The train is too full, cannot get on it. #MBTAannoy #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
525 train out of Braintree is a vile Big Red cattle car Get into position now if you want to fight for seat #mbtaannoy #mbta #mbtaGMrev8056
Hey @mbtaGM couple hundred cold people waiting for southbound train @ Charles planning on sending any? #mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
The good news -- unless you happen to be Michelle Clements -- is that she appears to be the only person all week who experienced Orange Line problems:
Orange line delays again foiling my chance at getting home at a reasonable time. #mbtaannoy @mbtaGMMichelle Clements
Three virtually empty Forest Hills trains, none for Oak Grove commuters. Lovely service as usual @mbtaGM #mbtaannoy #sarcasmMichelle Clements
@mbtagm orange line needs to run more than every 10 mins during rush hour. Can't believe you charge for this awful service #mbtaannoyMichelle Clements
And only a few people tweeted about their bus issues:
8:11 am #MBTA text says the 038 will be 10-15 minutes late. Are they using Hermione's Timeturner? #MBTAannoy @MBCR_info http://pic.twitter.com/dffk1gEeRob Molla
In the freezing cold waiting 30 minutes for a bus that *supposedly* comes every 10 minutes. #MBTAannoyQuenby Bucklaew
.@mbtagm no fares accepted on 86 bus market at ventilation. No bus # visible inside bud #mbtaannoy #budgetshortfallKenji
But as awful as the Green Line shutdown and some of the other issues above sound, maybe the Commuter Rail wins?
Who pooped on the commuter rail? #MBTAAnnoyJess Levens XLIV
After that tweet, other Commuter Rail issues could seem pretty minor, though they probably still #MBTAannoy the heck out of these tweeters:
If there was a 6pm express to Lowell, it would change *everything* #mbtalistening #mbtaannoy but why doesn't the mbta have express tracks?charlene mcbride
Service delay. Passenger fell down the stairs... not really their fault, not lights at Winchester Center @mbtaGM #MBTAannoyCarey Mercier
@mbta really needs to stop turning express commuter trains into local trains. four stops to go and the aisles are packed #mbtaannoyKris Johnson
Commuter Rail 038 just arrived at Kingston station. Why is it late every day? #MBTA #MBTAannoy @MBCR_infoRob Molla
If I ever die in a stampede it will be because the whole world was desperate to get on the 6:25 Lowell train #mbtaannoycharlene mcbride
What else went wrong this week? Well, one commuter found the T's fancy new countdown clocks not quite counting down to anything:
Thanks for the big clock #mbta. #MBTAannoy http://pic.twitter.com/9wuYtCA1MBTA Rider
And another faced a technology issue of her own:
#MBTAANNOY, all of your entrances should allow weekly pass tickets since your machines don't put them on smartcards #shouldhavejumpedthegateSweetadelinevt
This tweeter found that the MBTA, like some stores and offices, didn't understand that on really cold days it isn't necessary to get the temperature to 80 degrees:
Easy on the heat! We are already dressed like we are going to the artic! This is like getting in a sauna wearing a parka #MBTAannoy @mbtaGMKNRuval
And of course, no bad week is complete without the jerk next to you making it worse:
Oh your bag of vegetables gets its own seat at rush hour. How delightful. #MBTA #MBTAannoyAnna Graham
Yes, please sit next to me and have a conversation on your phone about your dreams last night for our entire T ride. #mbtaannoyStephanie-Marie
It would be great if people would take a breath mint before packing on the Red Line #mbtaannoyrev8056
I judge people who do not move all the way in on a crowded train #rude #mbtaannoySCR
Love getting coughed on by little monsters! #timetomovecars #MBTAannoyRed Line Commuter
Some guy is cutting his nails on the T. If he starts working on his toes I'm out of here. #mbtaannoyJeffrey Allan
Afternoon on Dread Line crawling through tunnel packed next to a filthy guy who smells like an ashtray #mbtaannoyrev8056
Seriously you're not covering your mouth?! Thanks for spewing your germs everywhere! #MBTAannoyRed Line Commuter
Honestly folks. Move back if you're standing when riding the bus. #MBTAannoyEllie Rounds
After my bus commute this morning I'd really like to ask greater Boston to practice better oral hygiene & wash their coats. #mbtaannoygehenna
Why do I always end up crammed next to some mutant who is too big for a seat but shoves himself in anyway #mbtaannoyrev8056
What's worse than one jerk? Hundreds:
I appreciate the added warmth, but I dislike the fact that every public transportation I've used today has been packed #mbtaannoy #sardinesSarah Wilson
Both Charlene and Michelle found some conductors pretty #MBTAannoying:
Mbta conductors should spend less time talking about closing the doors and just close the doors #mbtaannoycharlene mcbride
@mbtagm so annoying when conductors say there is service right behind a late, packed train when the countdown signs say otherwise #mbtaannoyMichelle Clements
While this tweeter took the hint on Wednesday morning and decided to find alternate transportion:
glad to have Twitter. Guess I'm taking a cab to my docs from park street? #mbtaannoySweetadelinevt
But wait! The MBTA wasn't entirely awful this week. Teesh did a little complaining, but she had to admit the T got a couple of things right:
The day I DO have $$ is the day the Green Line fare machine is out of service lol #mbtaannoyTeesh
The train was right on time tho...and nice and toasty too! #mbtabragTeesh
And these next few folks found a variety of positive things to tweet about: 
I actually got a seat on the 77 twice this week -- a record. #mbta #MBTAbragTim Valentine
My bus has heat #thatsallthatmatters #mbtabragCaitlin
I really love these acoustic / violin bros that jam at North Station #MBTAbragCarey Mercier
Loving the new train arrival clocks at Wollaston - thanks for updating, @mbtaGM ! Now I can wait indoors instead of in the cold. #mbtabragErin Turowski
cold night. warm car. #mbtabragMBTA Rider
Love the countdown clocks on the Red line's Braintree branch stations. #MBTAbragBenjamin Chan
And Benjamin didn't just find something nice to say about the Red Line, he even had positive tweets about the Green Line this week, both before and after Wednesday's shutdown: 
My Green line train arriving on the platform at Park st. Right ON TIME! #MBTAbragBenjamin Chan
Caught my Green line train to Lechmere right on time. #MBTAbragBenjamin Chan
See? The MBTA isn't all bad. Remember that the next time you climb onto your train or bus, and if you see something positive, use the #MBTAbrag hashtag to let the world know. 

And if you get stuck standing around for three hours, well, that's plenty of time for a few tweets with #MBTAannoy, isn't it? 

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Downtown on Twitter: @YTDowntown.

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