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On the Trans Blog
Customer Kudos for MBTA Driver

It could have been a very costly day after Christmas for one T rider named Carolyn. That is, until MBTA Bus Driver Dank Combs got involved and went out of his way to offer a helping hand to a customer in need.

MBTA: Commuter Rail "Real-Time Arrival" Countdown Expands

The MBTA is moving forward with expansion this week of major service improvements for commuter rail customers.

Winter Driving, Live Cameras

Before driving this winter, read MassDOT's winter driving tips or check out the online traffic cameras. Read more about MassDOT services to make your winter drive smooth.

Whittier Bridge/I-95 Public Meeting Next Week

MassDOT's public information meeting for the Whittier Bridge/I-95 Improvement Project is scheduled for next week.

The Road to Reform

MBTA Data Developer Event at MIT Set

The MassDOT Developers data initiative is showing substantial progress in just two months.

Within one hour of releasing the Real-Time XML Trial Feed for five MBTA bus routes at the MassDOT Developers Conference in November, a developer had built an application to display the location of the buses on Google Earth. In the eight weeks since, at least eight applications have been built using the real time feed. These applications operate on numerous platforms including any phone by call or SMS, basic websites, desktop widgets, the iPhone, Android devices, and even an LED sign.

The next step forward comes later this month, when the Center for Future Civic Media at MIT will host the MBTA Data Hackathon on January 29-30. The Hackathon will focus on building innovative applications with data released on the MassDOT Developers Page. RSVP for the MBTA Data Hackathon at MIT.

The MBTA Data Hackathon will be focused around projects including:

  • A simple, clean web interface for accessing real-time bus location data
  • Constructing a kit that helps business owners set up their own LED scrollboards that display when the next bus is coming
  • A text messaging interface for retrieving schedule information
  • And, of course, anything else you can think up!

The beta MassDOT Developers Page, launched in July 2009, is intended to serve as a resource to software developers interested in working with MassDOT's data. Data released through the Developers page includes MBTA and RTA route and schedule data, an RSS feed for MBTA service alerts, Highway Division planned construction event data, RMV branch wait time feeds, and a variety of other information. Third-party developers have used this data to create applications that benefit users of the transportation system, all at no cost to the MBTA.

RMV: New Online Web Service

MassDOT this week announced that motorists can now order crash reports online at the Registry of Motor Vehicle's virtual branch. It is the 12th new customer online convenience launched by the RMV in the last two years. The result: a 36% increase in web transactions.

Registrar Rachel Kaprielian says RMV customers can now more quickly search for and copy crash reports often needed in vehicle insurance claims. "Our latest web service speeds up the process," said Kaprielian, "using new technology to deliver efficient government service and save customers time."

The RMV maintains the state's database of crash reports which are completed by law enforcement officers who may investigate a crash. Drivers involved in a crash are also required by law to complete an operator report on the circumstances of the crash and submit it to the RMV if property damages exceed $1,000 or there is personal injury.

The RMV receives requests for more than 3,000 crash reports per month by mail, often taking up to 3 weeks to certify and mail back to the customer. The new crash report web service will enable the RMV to process and deliver requests by e-mail within 24 hours at the same $20 per record cost.

Among the other online services added to the RMV website are license renewal, ID's and registrations, ordering a Fast Lane transponder and driving record and searching for a title or lien. The RMV's virtual branch now processes 1.8 million transactions a year.

MBTA: Improving Accessibility

by Gary Talbot
MBTA Assistant General Manager, System-Wide Accessibility

When it comes to providing accessible service, the MBTA has a lot to feel good about.

Since entering into a landmark settlement agreement with the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL) in 2006, significant improvements to accessibility have been made. To name just a few:

Over 300 new low-floor buses are now in service; elevator uptime has consistently exceeded 99%; dual-mode signs have been placed in stations and on some vehicles; trainings for all staff have been enhanced; and emergency evacuation equipment, specifically designed for customers with disabilities, have been purchased.

And this is truly just the beginning. We fully recognize that there is tremendous work ahead. Luckily, executive management support for accessibility initiatives has never been stronger and, along with your continued support and engagement, we will have every opportunity to build on our recent successes and achieve our goal of becoming the global benchmark for accessible and inclusive public transportation.

Please visit our website and learn more about MBTA's commitment to accessible transportation.

MassDOT Board February Public Meeting Change

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors will hold its next public business meeting on Wednesday, February 3, in the MBTA Board Room, Boston, a week earlier than originally schedule. During 2010, meetings will be held in Springfield, Lowell, and Brockton, along with Boston. All meetings are open to the public.

The meeting schedule is available on the MassDOT website.

Concord Bridge Reopens Months Ahead of Schedule

The Flint's Bridge carrying Monument Street over the Concord River in Concord reopened today more than three months ahead of schedule.

The bridge had been closed to traffic during construction requiring a detour for the many drivers using the bridge each day.

The $4.4 million project involved reconstructing a bridge with historic arch design that is located within the North Bridge/Monument Square Historic District adjacent to Minute Man National Historic Park.

To preserve the arch, MassDOT-hired contractors used the innovative ArchTec system, which preserves and strengthens the arch using stainless steel rods inserted into the masonry. The project also included roadway reconstruction and new guardrail and bridge rail. Despite additional design changes necessary during construction, the contractor R. Zoppo Construction of Stoughton completed work necessary to allow the bridge to reopen ahead of schedule. Learn more about MassDOT road and bridge projects.