Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Yom Kippur

Blessed Yom Kippur. May your wishes get sealed in the Book of Life. Have an easy and meaningful fast -G'mar Chatima Tovah.



The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services Announce New Schedule for Fall and Winter

This information was supplied by the MBTA 

The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), the agency’s operating partner for Commuter Rail, today announced the new Fall/Winter schedule which will take effect on October 17th. All schedules will be available online at mbta.com/cr as of Monday October 3rd. The Fall/Winter schedule will continue the “clockface” service to offer more consistent service throughout the day. Other adjustments take into consideration increased ridership, fall/winter weather and the start of slippery rail season, recent infrastructure improvements, continuing the Foxboro pilot, and maintaining additional service at Forest Hills and Oak Grove stations.

"Commuter Rail ridership has been climbing monthly, and we're excited to welcome back our customers who were using the system less frequently during the pandemic," said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. "With our partner Keolis, we developed a schedule that has become increasingly popular among commuters, and we'll continue to plan for a future that includes increased capacity and additional service."

“With more riders since early 2020, we are pleased to announce a Fall/Winter schedule that will safely and reliably provide more service, extending the Foxboro pilot and maintaining new service at Forest Hills and Oak Grove,” said Abdellah Chajai CEO of Keolis Commuter Services. “Typically twice a year we adjust the Commuter Rail schedule, which gives us the opportunity to think critically about the service we are providing. We know our passengers have options, and we are constantly striving to improve.”

The Fall/Winter schedule introduces schedule adjustments to accommodate the increase in ridership across the Commuter Rail system. While ridership has been steadily increasing since December of 2021, there has been a notable increase since Labor Day. Pre-pandemic, the Commuter Rail averaged over 119,000 passengers a day. For the week of September 12, 2022 Commuter Rail ridership reached over 77% of the pre-Covid average for the first time since early 2020. The MBTA Commuter Rail has fared better than, or is on par with, other U.S. rail systems in ridership return. Commuter Rail attributes the steady gains in ridership to the transition to a clockface schedule, which offers more service throughout the day, providing flexibility for a workforce with changing needs and increased options for passengers who are traveling beyond traditional work hours.

In the Fall/Winter schedule, Commuter Rail will maintain some of the additional service that was added at Forest Hills station and will provide regular service to Oak Grove, a station that was reopened during the Orange Line service disruption. Commuter Rail weekday ridership on average increased during the Orange Line service disruption by nearly 8,000 passengers at stations that serve both the Orange Line and the Commuter Rail: Forest Hills, Ruggles, Back Bay, Oak Grove and North Station. Across the network, the average weekday ridership of the Commuter Rail increased by nearly 20,000 riders during the Orange Line service disruption. Since the service disruption has ended, average weekday ridership has still increased by nearly 14,000 compared to the week of August 15th (the last week of ridership data before the start of the Orange Line service disruption). This increase in ridership is seen broadly across the network.

v Additional schedule adjustments are required for operational changes related to weather considerations for this time of year. Each autumn, falling leaves on the tracks are crushed under train wheels leaving behind a slick film that can create slippery conditions. To ensure safety in these conditions, locomotive engineers accelerate more slowly and apply the brakes earlier. As a result, minor schedule adjustments are needed to accommodate these operational requirements. To further mitigate “slippery rail”, Keolis takes three actions. First, Commuter Rail runs two wash trains, one on the North Side, and one on the South Side. These wash trains pressure wash rails as they travel over them, removing residue from fallen leaves. Second, Commuter Rail applies gel and sand solutions to the rails for improved traction. Third, Commuter Rail keeps track of problem areas where leaves and debris build up to stay ahead of any issues. Slippery rail season can last through early December.

Hourly service on weekdays is returning to the Framingham/Worcester line in the Fall/Winter schedule. Trains that were temporarily removed from the schedule to accommodate ongoing construction related to the Worcester Union Station Improvements project are back in the Fall/Winter schedule as construction has progressed to a point where these trains can be restored. This schedule also maintains the Heart to Hub express peak inbound and outbound trains connecting Worcester to Boston.

v To improve operations, adjustments have been made to the Providence, Middleborough, and Kingston lines. To reduce layover time and idling at Providence and improve passenger experience, weekday inbound trains from Wickford Junction will depart later. Similarly, outbound trains to Wickford Junction will have reduced trip time due to reduced layover time at Providence. The first weekday outbound trains on the Middleborough and Kingston lines and the first weekend outbound train on the Kingston line have been removed from the schedule to improve operations.

The Fall/Winter schedule also takes into consideration planned construction on the Newburyport/Rockport and Fitchburg lines. Beginning on October 15th and running through December 18th buses will replace trains between Beverly and Rockport as part of planned construction for the ATC/PTC signal improvement project. Due to planned track improvements, there will be a temporary schedule in place for the Fitchburg Line beginning October 17th and running into mid-November. During this time inbound journeys will be extended by up to 15 minutes to accommodate single track operations. Additionally, several inbound trains will depart Wachusett 8 minutes later.

Passengers may view full schedules for each line at mbta.com/cr. Passengers can stay connected with Commuter Rail by calling customer service at 617-222-3200, following @MBTA_CR on Twitter or signing up for T-Alerts at www.mbta.com/alerts.


Monday, October 3, 2022

Remembering Former State Senate Clerk William Welch

Former Senate Clerk Bill Welch was a consummate professional who cared deeply about the Senate as an institution, its members, and the integrity of its operations. He devoted himself completely to the important tasks of documenting the legislative operations of the Senate and ensuring that the rules were understood and followed. Bill not only cared about the Senate's official business, he also cared deeply about its members as people, and his relationships with the members were meaningful and enduring, and all of us will long cherish having had him in our lives. 

Clerk Welch worked at the State House for 48 years and died suddenly this weekend. 

Photo: Senate Clerk Bill Welch after his final formal Senate session in 2018



Sunday, October 2, 2022

Groveland COA BBQ

Thanks to the Friends of the Groveland Council on Aging for hosting another great barbeque at #Groveland Town Hall. We all had a wonderful outing with good food, fun, and friends.




Friday, September 30, 2022

Opening of CCB Foundation CORE Program In Gloucester

Last night was an important milestone for the region, the CCB Foundation's official launch of their CORE Peer Recovery & Resource Center. Overcoming substance abuse starts with learning that recovery is possible, support is near, and the CCB Foundation is paving a path toward treatment and care. 

Because we believe so strongly in the value of counseling and peer-to-peer support for recovery Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante and I worked to secure $125,000 in state funds for CCB Foundation's mentorship program. Marylou Sudders, the state's Secretary of Health and Human Services, has been very supportive of the effort and I am grateful that the state has issued a contract in support of CCB’s peer-to-peer recovery program as well. Participants deserve to have the ability to help those who feel alone and without resources and those in need of addiction treatment can have supportive relationships in the community. 



September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

On this night, at my request, the state's Department of Transportation has agreed to illuminate bridges in gold to bring awareness to pediatric cancer. I am grateful to Governor Charlie Baker and his administration for making this request a reality in support of 'going gold' for kids. Tonight, look to the Zakim Bridge in Boston, the Longfellow Bridge spanning Boston and Cambridge, the Fore River Bridge connecting Quincy and Weymouth, and the Burns Bridge in Worcester and Shrewsbury, and remember that children are more precious than gold.



Thursday, September 29, 2022

Open House at the Rowley Senior Center

Did somebody say hot dogs and Hoodsies? Yes, they did. We all had a swell time at the Rowley Council on Aging where we celebrated the community and enjoyed food, prizes, fun, and each other's company. 



Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Landmark North Shore Water Resilience Task Force Charter Agreement Signing

Today, I had the pleasure of joining with members and supporters of the North Shore Water Resilience Task Force and other members of the North Shore legislative delegation for the signing of a landmark agreement between water suppliers, cities and towns, and the Ipswich River Watershed Association. 

This is an historic moment for a group of people, across a large region, whose future depends on water resources. We are coming together, building consensus, to make sure that we have enough water and that we protect the Ipswich River, and its tributaries. 

The task force is supported by multiple state agencies, regional water suppliers, not-for-profit organizations, the region's federal legislative delegation, and facilitators from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and I am proud to be a co-founder and its Chairman. The signing of this pioneering North Shore Water Resilience Task Force Charter Agreement affirms an ongoing collaboration for a safe and reliable water supply, regional water supply resilience, and ecosystem health. 

Thanks to Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School for hosting us in Smith Hall. The enthusiasm from all those in attendance will sustain our momentum towards resilience. 

A partial list of those invited for membership in the Task Force:

City of Beverly
City of Lynn
City of Peabody
City of Salem
Town of Andover
Town of Boxford
Town of Burlington
Town of Danvers
Town of Hamilton
Town of Ipswich
Town of Middleton
Town of North Andover
Town of Reading
Town of Topsfield
Town of Wenham
Town of Wilmington
Ipswich River Watershed Association
Town of Lynnfield/Lynnfield Center Water District
Salem and Beverly Water Supply Board 
A partial list of other participating regional stakeholders: Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)
MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
MA Department of Environmental Protection
Massachusetts Rivers Alliance
MA Department of Conservation and Recreation
MA Department of Fish and Game
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
Massachusetts Water Works Association
The region's federal legislative delegation
Mass Audubon Society
Essex County Green Belt
Trout Unlimited
The Trustees of Reservation
Parker River Clean Water Association
Town of Essex
Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea
Town of Rockport
City of Gloucester