Friday, June 06, 2008

They're piling us like cord wood on the Blue Line

Globe Photo by Bill Greene

OK, so which is most retarded part of the Globe's Blue Line seat story?

1. The basis of the story is that "many passengers have found themselves alternately fidgeting and slipping since the T began introducing the cars in February." The support for that statement? Four people complaining during the reporter's ride-along with the unwashed masses of the North Shore.

2. Breathlessly reporting that a driver "conceded that many passengers are, in fact, slipping" with this graf:
"Some people do have that problem," he said with a laugh before zipping to the turnaround at the Wonderland stop.

3. The driver had to be quoted anonymously because of T policies that bar employees from talking to the press. This is a story of such urgency that we had to resort to anonymous sources. I sympathize. This is clearly the most explosive revelation in a major newspaper since the Pentagon Papers. Or last year's high-end stroller expose.

4. The scientific survey of pole gripping:

A ride on the new Blue Line cars this week revealed what appeared to be a higher percentage of seated passengers clutching the metal poles than on other lines.

Really. That's in the story. A page one story.

5. Ignoring a more relevant and interesting story revealed by riders and the T's spokesman: People are complaining, and the T is admitting, that people are falling over from hard stops on new equipment. Has anyone been injured? What about the equipment is so different that it causes hard braking? Will operator familiarity ease the problem, or is it an equipment failure?

Ah, but that's for another day. A reporter has to follow his gut, and this reporter's gut told him to feature the middle-aged lady whining about the seats because they have a great photo for it.

6. After heading out into the trains searching for piles of riders on the floor, the reporter waits until the 22nd graf to get the T's official number of complaints about the seats. We read for a screen-and-a-half before we're told there have been seven complaints about the seats in the last four months. Seven complaints. That's a little less than one every two weeks. I can see why we had to rush a reporter out onto the train.

Personally, I like the new cars and the new seats. When you walk into one of the car, you look at all the surfaces and realize a T worker could walk in and wash the entire interior with a garden hose. That makes me happy.

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