Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

Stabbing this morning in the Leather District

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Brief mention in the Boston Globe

Friday, July 31st, 2009

From “MBTA announces latest arrival: Google mapping tool for riders“:

But not everyone at yesterday’s news conference was trumpeting the partnership. Jonathan Kamens, 39, of Brighton said Google Maps’s public transit routes are faulty because they rely on schedules provided by the MBTA, which are sometimes wrong.

Kamens, a software engineer, said his complaints to T officials have gone unaddressed for years, which drove him to pass out fliers questioning the deal.

Lisa Rivera, a spokeswoman for the MBTA, said that the authority was unaware of his complaints but that officials would look into them.

“We have an extensive planning and scheduling department and employees who are constantly updating our system,’’ she said.

It’s unfortunate that the reporter said I am concerned about inaccurate “schedules,” when in fact that I am concerned about inaccurate routes, which is a rather more serious problem.  If the schedule’s wrong, then you might have to wait longer than expected for a bus, but if the route is wrong, then the bus you’re waiting for might never show up.

MBTA Transit Police threaten to arrest me for distributing flyers to reporters at Google Transit press conference

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

As planned, I went to South Station about a half hour before the press conference scheduled to announce that Boston (finally!) had been added to Google Transit.  Upon arrival, I started talking to reporters and handing out flyers.

I was quickly confronted by Daniel Dombak, a Marketing Director for Equity Office (which manages South Station), and informed that I was on private property and couldn’t distribute flyers without a permit.

“Are you going to arrest me and drag me out of the station for handing out flyers to reporters?” I asked him.

“No, of course we’re not going to drag you out of the building,” he responded, but in fact that’s exactly what he intended to do.

A few minutes later, a Transit Police officer approached me and informed me that I was not allowed to distribute written materials on MBTA property without a permit.  We went back and forth for several rounds with me trying to get her to explain in plain English what would happen if I continued to distribute flyers.  She finally claimed that yes, if I continued to distribute the flyers after being asked to stop, I would be arrested.  The police officer, against whom I have no complaint because she was just doing her job, informed me that of course I could talk to reporters as much as I wanted; I just couldn’t hand them pieces of paper.

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MBTA routes are now in Google Maps, but they’re still wrong!

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

MBTA route information has just become available in Google Maps (both Web-based and Google Maps Mobile).  Google and the MBTA are planning on formally debuting it at a press conference at South Station in an hour or so.

I checked, and the data that the MBTA gave to Google has the same errors I’ve been complaining to the T about for over six years.

Since South Station is a short walk from where I work, I’ll be paying a visit and handing out this flyer to any reporters I find there:

Ride the T with Google

(click for PDF)

If I’m lucky maybe I’ll even get to shout out a question to Dan Graubaskas and ask what he’s planning on doing about the fact that the routes given out by Google Maps are wrong because of incorrect data provided by the T.

MBTA customer service continues to excel (not!)

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

T_sucksLast year, when I complained in writing to the T about receiving no response to the email messages I’d sent through their “Write to the Top” program, I received a response from Kevin McGuire telling me that if I continued to have this problem, I should contact James Monahan at a specific email address or telephone number.

On July 10, I emailed Monahan at the address McGuire gave me to complain about the fact that John Houghton, the superintendent of the Cabot Bus Garage, had not responded to complaints I’d sent on July 6, 7, and 9.

My email message to Monahan bounced with “User unknown”.  I can’t say I was surprised.

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A well-deserved rebuke at an appropriate time of year

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

I’ve recently started bicycling to and from work again after a very, very long hiatus.

My route home from work takes me past the Boston Public Garden:

route

Because Boylston and Arlington are both one-way the wrong way, I have to make a loop around the Public Garden by taking Charles to Beacon to Arlington.

Or, at least, I would have to do that if I weren’t doing this instead:

cheat

That is, I was cutting through the Public Garden.  That would be fine if it weren’t for the “no bicycles” sign posted at the Garden’s entrance.

I rationalized what I was doing: “I ride slowly and carefully… I always yield right-of-way to pedestrians… I’m not hurting anybody.”  Given how much I hate it when other people pull shtik like that, I was being a grade-A hypocrite.

Well, today my hypocrisy came home to roost.  As I was slowly and carefully riding through the Garden, a crotchety old guy stepped in front of my bicycle, forced me to stop, and then proceeded to chew me out, with a lecture that began with, “Can’t you read!?”

I argued with him, because accepting criticism from strangers is not one of my (nor, I would imagine, most people’s) strengths.

But he was right, of course.

Although I can’t thank the crotchety old guy, I can say there that I’m grateful to him for reminding me to live up to my own standards.  Thanks to him, starting tomorrow, I’ll be “taking the long way home.”

The three weeks leading up to the Jewish fast day on the Ninth of Av, and especially in the eight days preceding the fast, are supposed to be used, among other things, as a period of introspection, self-examination, and conscious effort to improve one’s middot, i.e., one’s behavior toward one’s fellow man and toward society.  Whether I ride through or around the Garden may seem trivial, but in fact, no aspect of one’s conduct in this world is truly trivial, and I’m grateful for the reminder.

City of Boston converts our block to resident only parking without our knowledge, desire or consent

Friday, May 15th, 2009

May 15, 2009

Dear Mayor Menino,

I have lived at __ ___ Street in Brighton for almost twelve years.

I came out of my house this morning and found a BTD employee posting “resident parking only” signs on our block.

I do not understand why the residents of our block were not consulted about whether there was a need or desire for resident-only parking before converting our street.

I do not understand why we were not notified that this change was going to take place.

I do not understand why this change was made. There was no need. It is rarely impossible to find a parking space on our block, or at worst on the adjoining block, even on street-cleaning days when we can only park on one side of the street.

We have frequent visitors; we want them to be able to park near our house.

The Belgian Honorary Consul to the city of Boston lives two houses down from us and has regular visitors for consulate business. I doubt they will appreciate being unable to park near his house.

I called your constituent services hotline about this, and they transferred me to the public works department, which then tried to transfer me to the transportation department, whose line was busy. I should not have been transferred in the first place; I want your office to solve this problem, not brush me off onto someone else. And as for the transportation department’s telephone line being busy, have you folks ever heard of voicemail? Do you think I have time to keep calling the transportation department’s number all day until I just happen to get through?

Please take down these signs and give the residents of the street the opportunity to weigh in on whether they are needed before putting them back up.

Thank you,

Jonathan Kamens