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Back Bay & Westerly: Two More Unstaffed Stations


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#21 peconicstation

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 04:27 PM

I never realized BBY was staffed.  The platform is so dark, creepy and filthy.  The only time I ever use BBY is if I need to make a quick transfer from BON to BOS and vice versa.

 

 

Just what station are you talking about, Back Bay is a more spartan station than South, but dark, creepy and filthy it's not, and I ride from there often.

 

The one upside to no agent at Back Bay, is it will require large convention groups to board at South Station where they can be pre boarded, and provided assistance.

We have had a few instances where a large group insisted on boarding there (granted it's closer to some very large hotels, and the Hynes Convention Center), and it took

forever.

 

Ken



#22 Acela150

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 06:23 PM

 

 

Asking customers to Wait on the platform in the dead of winter is not good customer service, IMO.

 

 

 

Also, at WLY, the electric wheelchair lifts in the stairways to the tunnel are keyed, and powered on and operated by the station agent. This might be an issue unless the state of Rhode Island (who owns the building) pays someone to open/close the station, and clean and maintain the waiting area and bathrooms, which is what the Amtrak agent does, much the same as the situation at Kingston, RI (KIN).

 

 

It's not that hard to get keys made for the conductors.. They may even have keys already. I know that the hand crank wheel chair lifts that are locked up at many stations just use a basic switch key. 


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#23 Eric S

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 06:38 PM

 

I never realized BBY was staffed.  The platform is so dark, creepy and filthy.  The only time I ever use BBY is if I need to make a quick transfer from BON to BOS and vice versa.

 

 

Just what station are you talking about, Back Bay is a more spartan station than South, but dark, creepy and filthy it's not, and I ride from there often.

 

The one upside to no agent at Back Bay, is it will require large convention groups to board at South Station where they can be pre boarded, and provided assistance.

We have had a few instances where a large group insisted on boarding there (granted it's closer to some very large hotels, and the Hynes Convention Center), and it took

forever.

 

Ken

 

I don't think "dark, creepy, and filthy" is completely off-base as a description of Back Bay Station's *platform* area.



#24 NTL1991

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 08:48 PM

 

 

 

Asking customers to Wait on the platform in the dead of winter is not good customer service, IMO.

 

 

 

Also, at WLY, the electric wheelchair lifts in the stairways to the tunnel are keyed, and powered on and operated by the station agent. This might be an issue unless the state of Rhode Island (who owns the building) pays someone to open/close the station, and clean and maintain the waiting area and bathrooms, which is what the Amtrak agent does, much the same as the situation at Kingston, RI (KIN).

 

 

It's not that hard to get keys made for the conductors.. They may even have keys already. I know that the hand crank wheel chair lifts that are locked up at many stations just use a basic switch key. 

 

 

 

It doesn't really make sense at WLY, and it's not as simple as "getting keys made."

 

With a ticket agent there, passengers with disabilities or impairments can check in prior to departure, the station agent monitors the train status and assists the passenger at the appropriate time, arriving train side before the train approaches, wheelchair (crank) lift in position and ready to board the passenger. No delay incurred to trains.

 

But conductors would need to leave their train (because, of course, you cannot actually see anyone waiting at the station side tunnel entrance while your train is blocking view), walk down the stairs into the tunnel, through the tunnel, up the stairs to the station side, to check to see if someone is boarding with a wheelchair. If this is the case, the conductor would need to operate the electric wheelchair lifts on either staircase, unlock and move the manually wheelchair lift train-side, board the passenger, then return and re-secure the lift. Not exactly the same situation



#25 the_traveler

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 10:34 PM

Also at WLY, the station is on the south side of the tracks. Due to high speed Acela, there is a fence in between the northbound (station side) track and the southbound track. The entry to the stairs is near the track on the northbound side but 50 feet or so from the southbound side! (I've never crossed thru the tunnel, so I'm not exactly sure where the entry is on the other side.)
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#26 Thirdrail7

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 10:43 PM

 

 

 

 

Asking customers to Wait on the platform in the dead of winter is not good customer service, IMO.

 

 

 

Also, at WLY, the electric wheelchair lifts in the stairways to the tunnel are keyed, and powered on and operated by the station agent. This might be an issue unless the state of Rhode Island (who owns the building) pays someone to open/close the station, and clean and maintain the waiting area and bathrooms, which is what the Amtrak agent does, much the same as the situation at Kingston, RI (KIN).

 

 

It's not that hard to get keys made for the conductors.. They may even have keys already. I know that the hand crank wheel chair lifts that are locked up at many stations just use a basic switch key. 

 

 

 

It doesn't really make sense at WLY, and it's not as simple as "getting keys made."

 

With a ticket agent there, passengers with disabilities or impairments can check in prior to departure, the station agent monitors the train status and assists the passenger at the appropriate time, arriving train side before the train approaches, wheelchair (crank) lift in position and ready to board the passenger. No delay incurred to trains.

 

But conductors would need to leave their train (because, of course, you cannot actually see anyone waiting at the station side tunnel entrance while your train is blocking view), walk down the stairs into the tunnel, through the tunnel, up the stairs to the station side, to check to see if someone is boarding with a wheelchair. If this is the case, the conductor would need to operate the electric wheelchair lifts on either staircase, unlock and move the manually wheelchair lift train-side, board the passenger, then return and re-secure the lift. Not exactly the same situation

 

 

 

WLY has an average of 11 passengers per train. Additionally, the station is only open long to serve 4 of the scheduled 10 trains the stop on weekdays and none on the weekdays. Clearly, the majority of the passengers were not partaking in the services anyway. As for the conductor and wheelchair assistance, it is no different than most of the unstaffed stations throughout the nation.

 

Technology is being embraced. It is not like it was twenty years ago when you just had to show up to the station and mill around that platform while looking down the tracks, not knowing if the train was on time. With train trackers, apps and various websites, you can pretty know when to hit the platform. Besides, the train crews on the line are quite decent. They always come to a stop and look to the parking lot to see if someone emerges from a car.

 

Perhaps an arrangement is in the works for a caretaker.

 

As for BBY, there is a major station within walking distance.

 

It is a sign of the times and I'm honestly shocked these stations lasted as long as they did.


Edited by Thirdrail7, 20 September 2016 - 10:44 PM.

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#27 neroden

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 11:16 PM

I expect all stations which don't have checked baggage to end up unstaffed.  There's not much reason to staff 'em except to take cash payments for tickets.    If there are any really busy stations which don't have checked baggage... they'll probably get checked baggage instead of becoming unstaffed.

 

Losing checked luggage service at Worcester is a genuine loss, however.  Harmful.  They used to have it.  It was being used the time I got off.


Edited by neroden, 20 September 2016 - 11:21 PM.

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#28 neroden

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 11:18 PM

 

I never realized BBY was staffed.  The platform is so dark, creepy and filthy.  The only time I ever use BBY is if I need to make a quick transfer from BON to BOS and vice versa.

 

 

Just what station are you talking about, Back Bay is a more spartan station than South, but dark, creepy and filthy it's not, and I ride from there often.

Yes, it's dark, creepy and filthy.  Visit the Worcester Line (Lake Shore Limited) platform.  The NEC platforms are nice enough.

 

It's funny that I know more about the station than you do when you "ride from there often".  You obviously never use the Worcester Line platform.


Edited by neroden, 20 September 2016 - 11:19 PM.

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#29 neroden

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 11:27 PM

In the particular case of Westerly, Amtrak is now in violation of the ADA for 6 years.  This action actually *worsens* the situation for disabled passengers, which exposes Amtrak to massive legal liability.  If sued by a wheelchair user who uses Westerly to catch trains, I am quite sure that a judge would issue preliminary and final injunctions ordering Amtrak to staff the station until it is brought into compliance with the ADA.  And they'd probably get money damages too.

 

I hope someone does sue Amtrak over this, because it's just irresponsible of Amtrak management not to consider their legal obligations before making their staffing decisions.  And anyone inside Amtrak should feel free to point that out to their bosses.  It's probably cheaper to hire an employee than to pay out a multimillion dollar settlement AND hire an employee.

 

---------------

 

For reference, the most recent list of stations where passengers using a wheeled mobility device cannot get on or off the train is in the OIG Report from 2014 -- 17 stations, not including the flagstops.  Four have become accessible since then.  The list:

 

Ashland, VA (no progress, city responsibility)

Buffalo - Exchange St, NY (missing a wheelchair lift, technically city responsibility)

Clifton Forge, VA (missing a wheelchair lift, Amtrak responsibility -- unless CSX is being obstreperous, in which case Amtrak should sue them)

Coatesville, PA (designed, possibly under construction)

Elko, NV (missing a wheelchair lift, Amtrak responsbility -- unless UP is being obstreperous, in which case Amtrak should sue them)

Glenwood Springs, CO (possibly fixed, unclear)

Harpers Ferry, WV (NO PROGRESS, National Park Service responsibility)

Marshall, TX (NO PROGRESS, Amtrak responsbility -- unless UP is being obstreperous, in which case Amtrak should sue them)

Mount Joy, PA (designed, apparently under construction)

Newark, DE (designed, construction delayed by NS)

Paoli, PA (starting construction soon)

Parkesburg, PA (NO PROGRESS, 100% Amtrak responsbility, but it's in the "queue" of Pennsylvania-funded Keystone projects)

North Philadelphia, PA (NO PROGRESS, 100% Amtrak responsibility)

Westerly, RI (NO PROGRESS, either Rhode Island or Amtrak responsibility)

Windsor, CT (fixed)

Windsor Locks, CT (fixed)

Windsor - Mt. Ashtney, VT (fixed)

 

Amtrak should be walking on eggshells when it comes to reducing customer service at these 13 stations, since Amtrak is already grossly out of compliance with the law. Some of these are the responsbility of a local city, but Amtrak should be supplying wheelchair lifts anyway.

 

I notice that RIDOT did a $2 million renovation of Westerly... after the ADA passed.


Edited by neroden, 21 September 2016 - 12:35 AM.

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#30 looshi

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 10:31 AM

 


Clifton Forge, VA (missing a wheelchair lift, Amtrak responsibility -- unless CSX is being obstreperous, in which case Amtrak should sue them)


CSX wants Amtrak out of the current station because it sits in the yard and is used as a crew office. Back in 2013 Amtrak endorsed a plan by the city to move the station to a C&O replica station on the grounds of the C&O Historical Society's museum. I could not find any recent news on progress, but I'm guessing that's the hold-up.

#31 neroden

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 08:53 AM

 

Clifton Forge, VA (missing a wheelchair lift, Amtrak responsibility -- unless CSX is being obstreperous, in which case Amtrak should sue them)


CSX wants Amtrak out of the current station because it sits in the yard and is used as a crew office. Back in 2013 Amtrak endorsed a plan by the city to move the station to a C&O replica station on the grounds of the C&O Historical Society's museum. I could not find any recent news on progress, but I'm guessing that's the hold-up.

 

You're probably right.  Given that (a) Amtrak is exposed to liability, and (b) Amtrak has the legal right to force CSX to allow Amtrak to upgrade the station (seriously, they can sue and get a court order), someone at Amtrak should be talking to CSX.  I'd tell them that CSX has three choices:

-- CSX pays for the station relocation out of its own pocket

-- CSX signs an agreement to pay for any legal costs and damages incurred by Amtrak due to lack of ADA compliance at this station

-- CSX lets Amtrak into the station and Amtrak puts in the wheelchair lift

Basically say that Amtrak cannot expose itself to liability for the benefit of CSX without any compensation.  If CSX is recalcitrant still, point out that any attempts at retaliation would be really seriously frowned upon by the judge.


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#32 Ashland Train Enthusiast

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 12:12 PM

In the particular case of Westerly, Amtrak is now in violation of the ADA for 6 years.  This action actually *worsens* the situation for disabled passengers, which exposes Amtrak to massive legal liability.  If sued by a wheelchair user who uses Westerly to catch trains, I am quite sure that a judge would issue preliminary and final injunctions ordering Amtrak to staff the station until it is brought into compliance with the ADA.  And they'd probably get money damages too.

 

I hope someone does sue Amtrak over this, because it's just irresponsible of Amtrak management not to consider their legal obligations before making their staffing decisions.  And anyone inside Amtrak should feel free to point that out to their bosses.  It's probably cheaper to hire an employee than to pay out a multimillion dollar settlement AND hire an employee.

 

---------------

 

For reference, the most recent list of stations where passengers using a wheeled mobility device cannot get on or off the train is in the OIG Report from 2014 -- 17 stations, not including the flagstops.  Four have become accessible since then.  The list:

 

Ashland, VA (no progress, city responsibility)

Buffalo - Exchange St, NY (missing a wheelchair lift, technically city responsibility)

Clifton Forge, VA (missing a wheelchair lift, Amtrak responsibility -- unless CSX is being obstreperous, in which case Amtrak should sue them)

Coatesville, PA (designed, possibly under construction)

Elko, NV (missing a wheelchair lift, Amtrak responsbility -- unless UP is being obstreperous, in which case Amtrak should sue them)

Glenwood Springs, CO (possibly fixed, unclear)

Harpers Ferry, WV (NO PROGRESS, National Park Service responsibility)

Marshall, TX (NO PROGRESS, Amtrak responsbility -- unless UP is being obstreperous, in which case Amtrak should sue them)

Mount Joy, PA (designed, apparently under construction)

Newark, DE (designed, construction delayed by NS)

Paoli, PA (starting construction soon)

Parkesburg, PA (NO PROGRESS, 100% Amtrak responsbility, but it's in the "queue" of Pennsylvania-funded Keystone projects)

North Philadelphia, PA (NO PROGRESS, 100% Amtrak responsibility)

Westerly, RI (NO PROGRESS, either Rhode Island or Amtrak responsibility)

Windsor, CT (fixed)

Windsor Locks, CT (fixed)

Windsor - Mt. Ashtney, VT (fixed)

 

Amtrak should be walking on eggshells when it comes to reducing customer service at these 13 stations, since Amtrak is already grossly out of compliance with the law. Some of these are the responsbility of a local city, but Amtrak should be supplying wheelchair lifts anyway.

 

I notice that RIDOT did a $2 million renovation of Westerly... after the ADA passed.

 

Funny that you should mention this, as I was just in ASD Monday picking up my wife and daughter who were returning for a week in ALB, and literally in the past two weeks one of the portable wheelchair lifts has appeared on the platform (I only made note of the one on the righthand/generally southbound platform, didn't see if there was one on the other side).

 

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#33 neroden

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 08:05 PM

Funny that you should mention this, as I was just in ASD Monday picking up my wife and daughter who were returning for a week in ALB, and literally in the past two weeks one of the portable wheelchair lifts has appeared on the platform (I only made note of the one on the righthand/generally southbound platform, didn't see if there was one on the other side).

Good news! :-)
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#34 Anderson

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 07:08 AM

In a few of the cases the diffusion of responsibility is likely to blame.  Clifton Forge is a messy case, but the main jam there is the simple fact that CSX has no reason to agree to any of the above, and given that I am inclined to believe that if/when a daily Cardinal happens, one of the imposed conditions will be moving that station.  With this being said, I suspect that Amtrak is (understandably) reticent to sue a host RR over a "piddling" ADA violation: It's all fine and dandy to point out about retaliation, but that doesn't mean that the Meteor can't constantly wind up stuck behind a freight train because dispatching "goofed".  Lord knows Amtrak has enough trouble on this front.  My instinct says that Amtrak has probably had a quiet discussion to the effect of "If we get sued over this we're not taking a bullet for you" but left it at that.

FWIW, VA has several major station overhauls in the queue (NPN has a funded new station that is at some indefinite point of development, there's serious discussion about what to do about Richmond [RVR is increasingly inadequate to needs] and RVM is getting a MASSIVE overhaul at present which should help with ADA-ish issues in the longer run if only because the platform is being widened, etc.) or sorely needed (CVS is loaded down with problems, particularly on the ex-C&O side of the station, but the station itself is inadequate to needs now).


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#35 jis

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:36 AM

There may be other bigger fish to fry coming up at JAX, CSX's hometown if they really follow through on the Convention Center station project. It is quite clear that if and when AAF happens it will be to the Convention Center and not to the Amtrak station, getting to which requires AAF to traverse CSX trackage. Of course whether Amtrak will ever move there is an entirely different matter, given the way things are turning out in Miami, without necessarily assigning any blame on anyone. But should it choose to move, it will involve some interesting negotiations with CSX with possible significant political pressure from Jacksonville on Amtrak's side. Admittedly at present everything is up in the air.

#36 amamba

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 08:25 PM

 

 

I never realized BBY was staffed.  The platform is so dark, creepy and filthy.  The only time I ever use BBY is if I need to make a quick transfer from BON to BOS and vice versa.

 

 

Just what station are you talking about, Back Bay is a more spartan station than South, but dark, creepy and filthy it's not, and I ride from there often.

Yes, it's dark, creepy and filthy.  Visit the Worcester Line (Lake Shore Limited) platform.  The NEC platforms are nice enough.

 

It's funny that I know more about the station than you do when you "ride from there often".  You obviously never use the Worcester Line platform.

 

I would say the NEC platforms are also dark, creepy and filthy at BBY. Plus they reek with the smell of diesel fumes. It's nauseating to stand on the NEC platforms for more than 10 minutes for me because of the diesel smell lingering. 



#37 jis

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 10:05 AM

That won't change until MBTA sees the light of the day and chooses to make the investment to electrify their NEC operations. They are unfortunately, not known to be a very forward looking innovative outfit.

#38 the_traveler

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 10:40 AM

It's not just their NEC operations. Other routes thru BBY run on non-electrified tracks where diesels are necessary.
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Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

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#39 jis

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 11:13 AM

Diesel operation is necessary only if one chooses not to electrify those few other relatively short branches off of the NEC. I am leaving aside the B&A since it is in a different part of the station which not that many people have to suffer through anyway.

#40 Triley

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 11:31 AM

That won't change until MBTA sees the light of the day and chooses to make the investment to electrify their NEC operations. They are unfortunately, not known to be a very forward looking innovative outfit.

 

As much as I'd like to see it happen, we all need to be realistic and know it will not happen.  Why would the cash strapped T invest money in new electric engines just for one route?  Or very expensive dual modes?  There's plenty of better places to spend the money that they don't have, which is the unfortunate reality.


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