Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Boston Globe needs to sharpen the fangs a little

Now I'm not saying we need the Boston Globe to become another Boston Herald. One tabloid rag is just more, no less. But this week's Starts & Stops in the Globe could use a dash of bloodlust the tabloidish Herald is known for. I'll explain:

This week, Starts & Stops author Noah Bierman (with assistance from Sarah M. Gantz) writes:

Route 66 woes
Bruce Blake gets no kicks on Route 66.

The Allston man waited more than 25 minutes during rush hour Wednesday morning for a number 66 bus, which is supposed to arrive every 10 minutes.

For years, he has been taking the ride from Allston to Harvard, the T's sixth-busiest bus route, and says the huge rush-hour gaps in service are commonplace. "I know folks who have waited a good 45 minutes in a snowstorm," he said.

It is a lament among bus riders that goes back more than a decade.

"You're standing out there waiting for the bus and it ain't coming," Blake said.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the T added another bus to the route, which also goes through Roxbury and Brookline, last winter and believes there are now enough in service to accommodate the 11,100 daily passengers. He said the 66 goes through 40 traffic lights, making it especially tricky to keep buses from stacking behind one another, which can create gaps in service.

In response to complaints, the T recently reassigned supervisors to monitor the route and prevent these gaps. By the end of this week, the T will finish installing Global Positioning System equipment on Route 66 buses, another measure meant to help keep them better staggered.

Blake will wait for proof. He said other complaints have been fruitless: "It's maybe different for an hour or a day, but nothing changes."

Now I'll overlook the fact that printing any response from Joe Pesaturo...without aggressive followup and fact-checking...can only be described as "rip and read" journalism. Joe might be a nice guy in person (I don't know, I've never met him) but his statements as the T's public relations guy are almost laughable in their rah-rah "The T is Never Wrong" tone, no matter how glaring the evidence is to the contrary.

And in this case, it's pretty glaring.

In particular, I'm referring the damning admission that the T regularly cancels bus runs on various routes because they can't afford to do them. I've blogged about this before, too.

Note that I say "cancels", not "canceled" in, past tense. Supposedly MBTA GM Dan Grabauskas ended the practice quickly after becoming GM a few years ago, but continued the lie because he knew what the political fallout would be. I say that's bullcrap, and that the T is using a smidgen of truth to cover up the lie; that they're still routinely cancelling bus (and probably subway) runs all the time in a desperate attempt to cut costs.

Regardless, this is news that is directly relevant to the story in this week's Starts & Stops, and yet no mention whatsoever is made of it.

Why not?

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