MBTA and signs

Historically, the MBTA has had a tough time keeping signs up to date — all over Boston and the rest of the MBTA, you will find signs referring to long-closed and never existing stations, along with references to stations that have changed their names long ago.

Two years and 284 days ago, the MBTA announced a ‘New Maps Initiative’ where all of the old maps (some dating back to the 1960s) would be taken down, and replaced with new ones. Initial signs (npi) of this program’s effectiveness were good — several stations did get new maps, and the maps on buses and trains were quickly updated. New signs were installed in Green Line stations, no longer pointing to the demise of the E-line (more on that in a bit) and things looked to be going well.

Then, nothing.

As far as I can tell, new maps have stopped. Many stations on the Red and Orange lines now have blank maps where once was an out-dated map. Even the MBTA’s new effort to sell you an MBTA-map on anything they can print onto (a kind of quasi-CafePress style effort — in association with a local and very lovely maps shop) produces wrong-maps on things, and the whole talk of “New Maps” seems to have dried up.

Yesterday, I was rather surprised to find that in preparation for today’s fare increase (the first one since I’ve lived in Boston, also the first time I’ve had to buy a subway pass since I’ve lived in Boston) that the MBTA has managed to get signs in more than one language, talking about the fare increase into every station I visited. This, coupled with the news that the MBTA is finally intending to make some much-needed money by selling—or appending—the names of businesses and organizations to the station names, gives me some hope that we’ll eventually get cleaner, and modernized stations. The recent improvements to State on the Orange and Blue lines shows what can be done with some money. Coincidentally, State was for a short while known as “State/Citizens Bank” — an ill-fated relationship between business and the MBTA to clean up the station.

Today is also the first day without several services, including Jamaica Plain’s own 48, 37/38 and weekend service on the E-line. Considering the sheer number of services that leave Forest Hills, including countless buses and Orange and Commuter Rail trains, the MBTA is seemingly increasingly less concerned with how to actually get people who live *in* JP around the place. Once again, we’re told that the 39 bus is going to get improvements.

My suggestion: a Silver Line, replacing the E line (almost) entirely.

Eventually, Somerville is going to get a whole bunch of Green Line stations and trains, with two branches going to different parts of Somerville. I assume one of these will extend the E line and the other might be known as the F line. My suggestion would be (heavily assuming they’re not going to bring the E line back to Arborway any time soon) to run a Silver Line bus from Lechmere to Forest Hills. It could run on the E line track for the most part, and would be no more of a burden than the 39 bus is right now. It could even run from Prudential if they couldn’t figure out the Lechmere-Park Street and Park-Prudential mechanics.

In return, we’d get nice bus shelters with digital displays of wait times, and perhaps some semblance of normality in transportation in JP.

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