It's Got to Be a Different Mindset Today

The trains were running in the Blizzard of '78 and they should be today.

I can't help but compare the governmental response to today's storm to how it was 35 years ago, when, during the (real) Blizzard of '78, the trains continued to function and operate throughout that storm and afterward.

I remember that well because my wife Ann Mary and I took a very early train on the Saturday after the '78 storm, and took a cab to Logan Airport on the first day it opened after the storm that lasted from Monday to Wednesday. On top of that, the trains ran a Monday-Friday schedule that Saturday. One crewmember told us they had been working for 36 hours straight because there was nobody available to replace them. But the trains ran!   

Today, Gov. Coupe de Ville shuts down the MBTA, including its commuter trains, saying they probably won't operate until Monday. This move is just plain stupid. Even a three-foot snowfall will NOT stop a train!    

But, it's not just him. Amtrak has suspended all service in this area as of Friday afternoon. I don't get it. How much sense does that make? Have all the decision-makers turned into 21st-century Chicken Littles? Have we turned into namby-pambies?    

The mentality has definitely changed, and not for the better. 

Rachel February 09, 2013 at 02:09 PM
So the storm was on Monday and you took a train 5 days later...This storm was on Friday and the trains will be open 3 days later...explain again why that's wrong? Do you believe that the tracks can be kept clear 24/7 throughout a blizzard? That that is a good use of our resources? Or did you not hear about the MBTA trains that got stuck o/n the tracks in '78?
Jerry Chase February 09, 2013 at 07:43 PM
I didn't include every detail. Jonathan asked me if he could post this e-mail as an opinion contribution. My wife and I had bought tickets for California about a month before said storm. For some inexplicable reason, there was no public transportation available for this part of Massachusetts . . . because all modes going to or coming from Boston eminated from Providence. What's forgotten is that Rhode Island went under federal martial law that week, so there was no way for us to get to Logan . . . . until the mess was pretty much cleaned up by late Fri., 2/10/78. Many businesses, including banks and the commuter rail operated that Sat., 2/11/78, on a 'Mon - Fri schedule'. Further, I don't believe that the MBTA operated the commuter trains from Attleboro to Boston and back, in those days. It was some other "entity", but I can't recall the name of it. The train we took early that Sat. morning (running one hour late, but no complaint here) ran just fine, all the way into Beantown. Maybe some Boston subway lines got stuck here and there, because some of it is ABOVE ground . . . and the MBTA is not equipped for such during a blizzard. However, the commuter trains contined to run throughtout the '78 storm and afterwards, without stoppages. Furthermore, I'm willing to bet that the AMRAK trains kept running all that time, too.
Gretchen Robinson February 10, 2013 at 07:17 PM
I think there's more concern for general public safety and more awareness of not putting those doing the recovery work in added danger. There may be an attitude out there that the rising generations are coddled and need to toughen up but it's a different time and different attitudes prevail. Please don't insult the younger generation out of hand. We didn't have 128 in Needham stuck with hundreds of cars. Those people were out there that first night and risked carbon monoxide poisoning from snow clogged exhaust pipes. As for trains, the tracks need to be cleared and checked out for safety. Trees can drop on the tracks or branches on the electrified wires cause short circuiting. It's all electrical now and the system is sensitive to major storms. We have high speed trains now that we didn't have in 1978. So one needs to look at the whole picture. It's easy to blame Gov. Patrick but I'm sure he has lots of public safety experts giving him strong advice here. Methinks we should walk a mile in his shoes and give him the benefit of the doubt. I kind of like that everything shuts down. Keeps us humble in the face of nature's raw power.
Jerry Chase February 11, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Gretchen, you have written well here. You made a good point about the trains being all electrified now. But let all be aware that equipment for commuter trains is vastly different than just subway engines & cars: they're much like Amtrak engines. For the record, I checked The Providence Journal's website, which had a story on the big one in '78. Said newspaper confirmed two things: that the trains did continue to run as scheduled, though did run late; and The Providence Journal Co., which published the Evening Bulletin as well as the morning Journal in those days, did indeed continue to publish every day then----in contrast to the Boston Globe---- and actually gave away one day's issues in a PR gesture. "I was there."
Jerry Chase February 13, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Here's another difference between 2013 and 1978, courtesy of the S. C.'s front-page story about people phoning in to "the storm emergency center" to rant or complain. In 1978, there was no "storm emergency center' in the City. If anyone did call back then, they were likely to have the phone call unanswered . . . not that this is a good thing by definition . . . . but rather, to compare the mindset of then versus now. It seems logical to me that an unintended consequence (to put it gently) of having a temporary City call center during a weather situation, INVITES unhappy callers. In 1978, such folks "had to stew in their own juices", so to speak. And, BTW, I don't think that there were any more domestic problems in early Feb., '78, either. No, today is truly a poorer mindset . . . cultivated by "today's TV culture". I am living proof that one can live without a TV set: 32 years this month, and no reason to change.
Gretchen Robinson February 14, 2013 at 12:31 AM
I think the culture is more coarse. Jock culture, mouthy people who have to vent, aggrieved over things that one should rise above, being hyper-critical. Nothing is ever good enough for some people. I don't watch TV other than PBS. Everything else turns me off, the Weather Channel today having a segment on a model posing in the antarctic. Sleeze. I no prude but that's tasteless. I think it's this galloping discontent with everyone and everything. We see it on PATCH, too.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »