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Beowabbit
Now mostly on Facebook (and rarely caught up even there)
Subway adventures 
13th-Jul-2011 09:59 am
Boston: Davis Square sign
plumtreeblossom and I were on this train (Globe article on Boston.com) that got stuck between Porter and Harvard squares. (Some of the details in that article are a bit off; for instance, the train got stuck around 9:00am. I’m guessing the time quoted in the article is when the T decided it had to be taken out of service.) According to some of the T personnel on the train, the initial problem was that the brakes locked, but at some point that somehow turned into a power problem. They sent a rescue train to try to push us into Harvard; when that didn’t work they tried to pull us back to Porter, and we got most of the way there, but had to walk the last thousand feet or so along the tracks. This was delayed for quite a while, because (I gather) there was a section of track where they were having trouble getting the third rail turned off. All in all, we were underground for a little over 2.5 hours, and then we got shuttlebusses from Porter to Harvard, and got back on the train. (Shuttle busses had been replacing service between Porter and Harvard since shortly after our train initially got stuck.)

All the T personnel we interacted with were extremely professional and impressively competent. Along the tunnel,they had a sort of bucket-brigade of people along the route warning us of every tripping hazard or wet spot and shining flashlights for us. They clearly know how to handle stuff like this, and I think if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, I hope plumtreeblossom and I end up with a bunch of MBTA employees.

The passengers, with one slightly grumpy exception in our car, were quite understanding and pleasant during our shared ordeal.

We were so drenched by the time we got out. The A/C was on on our train until they decided to evacuate (and turned off the third rail), and it wasn’t too bad after that, but the tunnel was pretty hot and muggy. [EDIT: I suspect they never actually turned off the A/C, just turned it down to conserve power. Not sure. It was pretty warm walking in the tunnel, though.]

I haven’t looked at it yet, but plumtreeblossom says we made it onto the TV news, at about 3/4 of the way through this video.

PS — Meant to post this yesterday, but with catching up at work, dress rehearsal, and the limitations of my phone keyboard I never managed.
Comments 
13th-Jul-2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
I knew the Globe article was not correct as soon as I read Mare's Facebook update where she announced that you and her were on the disabled train ... which was definitely inbound, not outbound. Glad you both survived your adventure without fainting and dehydrating.
13th-Jul-2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
Ron, I think you would have secretly enjoyed it if you'd been with us. :-)
13th-Jul-2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
Probably, provided I didn't wilt from the heat or really need to be somewhere fast...
14th-Jul-2011 03:40 am (UTC)
Glad you both survived your adventure without fainting and dehydrating.
Thanks! We did see one person carried off in a wheelchair (I think she was panicked and hyperventilating), and I think there were a couple others, but in general it wasn’t very uncomfortable for us, just time consuming. I am very, very glad that neither of us had had too much coffee, though!
13th-Jul-2011 02:19 pm (UTC)
You are both at 1:18 in the video and look great considering what you went through!

See you at the show Thursday night.

Edited at 2011-07-13 02:19 pm (UTC)
14th-Jul-2011 03:47 am (UTC)
I remember walking out the doors, vaguely becoming aware that there was somebody nearby paying attention to us, smiling and saying “hi” and immediately realizing I’d said “hi” right into the camera with which somebody was trying to take representative footage of the weary passengers blinking in the unaccustomed light. Oh, well, I thought, at least I don’t have to worry about what I look and sound like, because they’ll never use that footage. :-) Mare’s thumbs-up was much less goofy. I’m glad the camera didn’t pick up the sweat patches on my T-shirt!

The bald guy with the (I think) Spanish accent they interviewed was right next to us for much of the evacuation; he was very friendly and a real sweetheart.
13th-Jul-2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
Glad you both (and everyone else on the trains) were OK.

I was waiting on the Harvard Sq. Southbound platform around 9:15 - 9:45 AM and the T never announced that we should seek alternate service. Just a recording that kept saying "Attention passengers, the next inbound train will be out of service, please stand back from the yellow line." But no train ever came. I finally left, found a T employee and got the story. At that point they thought service would be restored in an hour, counting on the pusher train on its way.
14th-Jul-2011 03:49 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, after about an hour we figured if we had missed this train, we probably would already have gotten to work on the shuttle busses. But maybe it took them longer to start that. It was quite a while before they decided to evacuate the train.
(Deleted comment)
14th-Jul-2011 03:52 am (UTC)
I saw you post something about your bike trip and thought ”Well, his commute was a lot quicker than ours!” :-)
13th-Jul-2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
I so glad we were together for this!

If the mood hadn't been as focused and sober in the tunnel, I might have been tempted to say "Braaaaaaaaaaaaains...." :-)

I felt very well taken care of during that evac. If I hadn't been so slammed when I got to work I would have writen a nice letter to the Metro commending the workers. Maybe I can still do that on the MBTA website.
14th-Jul-2011 03:53 am (UTC)
I so glad we were together for this!
Me too, beloved!

Yeah, I wish I’d had time/energy to post my appreciation someplace more public.
13th-Jul-2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
Gah! Trapped for 2.5 hours sounds really miserable. Glad you guys are out now. I hope 1) You didn't have to go to the bathroom, and 2) You had a seat.

It's nice to hear that the MBTA folks were so pleasant and competent. Given what I read about them, that isn't what I would have expected, but I guess only the bad apples make the news.

14th-Jul-2011 03:55 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, we fortunately (and atypically) did not need to go to the bathroom, and the train wasn’t too crowded. (I wonder what people who did need to go to the bathroom did! Probably just be miserable.)
It's nice to hear that the MBTA folks were so pleasant and competent. Given what I read about them, that isn't what I would have expected, but I guess only the bad apples make the news.
Yeah, things took a while, but everything seemed to function like a well-oiled machine. Well, everything except the brakes and the power. :-)
13th-Jul-2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
OMG, you guys look so cute in that video! They chose you two as the examples of the smiling, happy people, and you look adorable! :-)
14th-Jul-2011 03:57 am (UTC)
Thank you! See my reply to ron_newman here for what was going through my head at that point.
14th-Jul-2011 12:40 am (UTC)
"They clearly know how to handle stuff like this, and I think if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, I hope plumtreeblossom and I end up with a bunch of MBTA employees."

Now there's a testimonial if I ever saw one.
14th-Jul-2011 04:04 am (UTC)
plumtreeblossom said that walking through the tunnel felt like being in a movie. And what movie isn’t better with zombies?
14th-Jul-2011 12:56 am (UTC)
That's not an adventure I'd wish on anyone, but I probably would have been more amused to have the adventure than annoyed - unless I was late for something important.

Anyway, not that I know how the brakes work on Red Line cars, but if they are anything like the safety brakes on railroad cars it kind of makes sense that an apparent brake problem could actually be a power problem at its root. Classic safety brakes are designed so that any failure in the system will *apply* the brakes automatically. That is, their default position is "locked down", and you have to apply air pressure in order to release them. That way, if something fails you don't have a runaway train, it just stops moving immediately.
14th-Jul-2011 04:09 am (UTC)
That's not an adventure I'd wish on anyone, but I probably would have been more amused to have the adventure than annoyed - unless I was late for something important.
Yeah, that’s basically how I felt. There was a frustrated point at the beginning where I was stressed about being late to a very busy day at work on the day of dress rehearsal when I’d have to leave early, but when it became clear that this was a bigger deal than being late to work, I think everybody sort of mentally recalibrated. And I had my beloved plumtreeblossom to keep me company. And an empty bladder — that’s key!
[...] it kind of makes sense that an apparent brake problem could actually be a power problem at its root. Classic safety brakes are designed so that any failure in the system will *apply* the brakes automatically.
Ah! That makes sense! I’d been wondering about that.

One of the conductors mentioned that the power problem (whatever it was) spread to the rescue train when it hooked up to us.
18th-Jul-2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
You two had quite an adventure!

I'm glad you made it through, and kept such a positive face about it. I'm not sure I could do the same, and feel a little humbled.
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