The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Thursday, December 02, 2004


Home of So Few Transit Links Than You can Possibly Check(tm), Unless you have no life other than websurfing

Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds. Einstein

IMPORTANT NOTE: FOC's ("Friends of the Cabal") (you know, like "FOB's"--"Friends of Bill" [Clinton]) have now all been promoted to "Adjuct Scholars" of The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal, that is "CAS's" "Cabal Adjunct Scholars." Congrats, Dudes!

From the Cabalmaster:

Continuing our review of other transit-oriented blogs:

Here’s a favorite of Your Favorite Transit Pundits: “BadTransit” It’s an all-transit blog focusing almost exclusively on Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, known locally as “the T”) . . . which does not enjoy a sterling reputation for efficiency, integrity or customer service. Consider these BadTransit tag lines:

"Your ‘perpetually gloomy’ MBTA ‘watchdog’, with news, vitriolic opinion, commentary, biting sarcasm, parody, dissent, insult, rumor, and sad humor on the USA's most inept mass-transit system - Boston's MBTA"

"Greetings, fellow commuters! In the United States, Boston boasts as home of "America's First Subway". That's nice. It must be quite old. But why should it be so filthy and decrepit? Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA, and even parts of the New York City subway are cleaner and better operated. What happened?!"

"Our name is BadTransit, but don't get the wrong idea. We're for Good Transit "

We think it fair to say that the webmaster, a self-described long-time commuter who relies on the T, is as mad as hell ( Check out these samples of muckraking, no-holds-barred commentary:

"BadTransit is all about the MBTA... the really awful part. If you're interested in ‘Rail fan’ information you've come to the wrong place. But if you're a Boston commuter, or contemplate traveling to our fair city in search of clean, reliable and safe public transportation, you'll discover in our news, editorial content, Commuter Spotter reports, and other features significant reason to consider altering your travel plans. After recent events, some commuters are being sized for bullet-proof vests. Others, biohazard outfits. On the MBTA, it's clear to us that you should always have an exit plan: be as close to the exit as possible and prepare to run."

"As you can already figure out, we think the MBTA is a dangerous, filthy, mismanaged, corrupt and inefficient mess. These are not conclusions drawn in haste. They have evolved from almost 30 years of using this system."

(Hey! Sounds "informed but opinionated" to us!!)

"We pay a lot for our transit system. The MBTA says, perhaps as an excuse for its complete ineptitude, that we have the ‘lowest base fares in the nation’. However, looking at the federal and state subsidies, the MBTA takes in roughly 25 to 30 percent from actual passenger revenue (when they collect it). The rest comes from our high taxes. Considering the subsidies and the lack of in-system transfers, our system is, according to a recent report, one of the most expensive in the nation. It's also deeply in debt, over $4 Billion as of the spring of 2004, and this is expected to continue to rise. The debt deepens with massive spending on unnecessary and fiscally irresponsible expansion projects, mostly to keep former Big Dig contractors employed, while the core of the MBTA system melts down. In fact, the debt payments consume a huge portion of the T's budget.

"What do we get for all the cash? A transit experience from Hell.

"From the traditionally unscheduled performance and constant breakdown of MBTA buses and trains; the unmitigated filth; the surly and unhelpful crews; rampant safety issues; and an unimaginative agency that exists to live out the prime directive - save their own jobs - the MBTA is a real gem.

"Do we [at BadTransit] have to play fair? No. The Boston media and the politicians all coddle this agency. They seem to work so that the complaining is kept at a minimum. Someone has to speak for the commuters either too afraid or just too timid and polite to do so for themselves. Therefore, BadTransit takes a tilted position. Here, we will not permit one excuse to be issued for the MBTA's failure . They have a 3-person public relations team to do that and, insult after injury, their salaries are paid for by tax and fare-payers! Instead, we try to call it as we see it. We're not experts, just commuters who demand and deserve performance and a good return on investment. We're also not professional journalists. We often fail to present both sides of the story (or the MBTA excuse DuJour). If you want the other side, read the Boston Globe or the Herald, or an MBTA press release. (We also invite our readers to view " Are we balanced? ", disclosing our bias and asks for your input to help improve our service to commuters.)

(And you thought we were exaggerating about "opinionated" to us!!!)

"Are we fair . . . balanced? Is this news??"

". . . we think it's important to disclose that, particularly in our T-Watch section which covers various news items, the commentary, sarcasm, and all the rest do tend to shine on. Therefore, what you read is fact (as we know it!) but often laced with our opinions, understandings, perceptions, and all the rest. We have a section for pure rumor - the Water Cooler - and we try to keep fact and total rumor separate, but compartmentalizing everything is beyond the scope of our small effort."

We Opinionated Ones think this is a great site, interesting and entertaining even if you don’t live in Boston . . . that will perhaps inspire similar efforts for other cities. Check it out . . . and join us in waiting for completion of "BadTransit’s Tour the T," page, currently under construction.

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