December 21, 2018
Note : I do not speak for any organizations. All opinions shared are my own.
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The day is finally here, Bostonians! The first Type 9 Green Line vehicle was deployed to be tested out in the field, and I got to ride on the first one! There are lots of reasons to be excited about the Type 9 vehicles. These vehicles represents a move towards a better MBTA. In this post I will highlight what I'm most excited about with these vehicles: better accessibility, better passenger experience, and better data collection.
The Type 9 model represents a step forward in accessible design for the T. One of the most exciting features is the new mechanism for allowing riders who are travelling with wheels, whether its a wheelchair or a stroller, to access a ramp. This system is nicer than the previous models, but is still not perfect. Previously, riders on wheels had to flag down T personnel to get a hefty metal ramp to place over the gap. Now riders on wheels need to page the operator over the intercom, and the driver will come enable the ramp with a key. This will still impact how long it takes the vehicle to get out of the station and on its way, but it will be faster than it was before.
There are also new features on these cars that will aid those with less vision. Door locator tones will make getting on and off the Green Line easier, and it will allow riders without sight to know when doors are opened and closed. This will allow passengers with less vision to be better oriented to their surroundings. The grab railing in the new vehicles are also bright yellow, as opposed to chrome. This color is more accessible for people with low vision.
These vehicles are so much roomier! As a frequent Green Line passenger, I cannot overstate how happy this makes me. Even on the first trip today, crowded with T employees, transit enthusiasts, journalists, and everyday passengers, it was clear how much roomier this vehicle was.
It was also evident how much smoother the ride on the Type 9 was. One of the people I was standing near on the maiden voyage commented on how slow the train must be going, because of how smooth the ride felt. Upon looking out the window, we could see that we were actually going at a normal speed — but without the herki-jerkiness a Bostionian typically associates with the Green Line.
As a data enthusiast, I am excited for APC. Having APC on Type 9 vehicles will improve data quality for the entire Green Line. This will mean that the data backing decisions at the agency will be more accurate, which in turn means that decisions and policy will be more effective (hopefully). Transforming the T to a data driven, proactive agency starts with reliable data. APC on the Green Line is a huge step in that direction.
Previously, the agency inferred ridership on the above ground stretches of the Green Line based on fare interaction. This means that the agency assumed that the number of people on the train corresponds to the amount of people that tapped their CharlieCards on the fare box or paid in cash. This is great -- except when the operator opens all of the doors on the vehicle and some people don't tap their cards or pay. This frequently happens at rush hour times, when trains are crowded and there are too many passengers waiting at the platform to board at the front of the vehicle quickly.
Having APC data at all doors will mean that the T will have a more accurate picture of how many people are on the train during the busiest peak hours. Next steps? Outfitting all the vehicles in the system with reliable APC.
I am a student at Northeastern University studying environmental science. I like public tranportation and data visualization. See more about me
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