Friday, December 2, 2016

Senator Ross: November/December 2016 State House Update

Senator Richard J. Ross, State House Update, Nov-Dec 2016
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State Senator Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) proudly serving the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District.

State House
Room 419
Boston, MA 02133

Ph: 617-722-1555
Fax: 617-722-1054
Dear Friends,

As we all prepare to be with our loved ones during the holidays, let us remember that this month is about recognizing the many gifts for which we have to be thankful. I want to especially thank my constituents who voted in this year's election. I am humbled to yet again be re-elected as your state senator.

The new legislative session begins in January, and I am eager to hear the concerns, ideas, and suggestions of my constituents. Your priorities are my main focus and I strive to represent all of your needs on Beacon Hill.

These next few weeks, please enjoy time spent with family and friends. As always, do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

Thank You
I would like to thank my constituents, the voters of the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District, for re-electing me to the Massachusetts state Senate. I am honored and humbled to have been given the opportunity to serve this district again for a fourth consecutive term.

The past six years have consisted of listening and working to address the concerns of the 12 cities and towns I represent. Every day on Beacon Hill, I will continue to work diligently to ensure the strong and independent voice of my constituents is heard.

As the new legislative session begins, I will continue to focus on the priorities of my district, such as local aid, public safety and economic development, while striving to maintain a cost effective government.

Because the voice of my constituents is so important to doing my job, I encourage you to reach out to my office and attend district office hours so that I can better understand the areas of our state government that need attention.

Through our partnership, it is my hope that the Baker-Polito administration will be able to work with the Legislature on many reforms in order to achieve change that will better our district.

It is a privilege to continue to serve as your state senator and to earn your trust. Thank you.

– State Senator Richard J. Ross
These past several weeks my office has received many calls and complaints regarding the commuter rail service and delays, particularly the Franklin and Needham lines. My staff and I are aware of your concerns and have been in contact with a liaison from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) as well as Keolis Commuter Services which operates the commuter rail system in Massachusetts.

October and November are known as the "slippery rail season" which has caused many difficulties for commuter rail services on the Franklin and Needham lines this fall. Wet leaves being ground into the tracks create slippery conditions and make it especially difficult for trains to operate safely at normal speeds. During this time,  the commuter rail operator conducts regular cleanings of the tracks at night and throughout the day to ensure safe travels for all passengers.

While Keolis did experience significant delays in service this fall, they are hoping to improve their performance in the coming weeks. As the slippery season comes to an end in December, this will bring a relief from the wet leaves that slow travel. A recent under-staffing on trains that lead to longer travel times will be remedied as a group of new hires just begun work a week ago. An increase in staff members will alleviate burdens on the current crew and help trains function more efficiently.

In addition to wet tracks and staffing issues, some of the older train sets experience more mechanical issues. Fortunately, Keolis is currently implementing a plan to increase the coach and locomotives maintenance capacity, with close to 60 new hires that should be operational by January. The MBTA has also rented some extra locomotives to help improve locomotive availability in the short run.

The Franklin and Needham lines both have a high proportion of single track where delays on one train can ripple across the entire line. Both lines, and especially the Franklin line, also must coordinate with other incoming trains as they share their track with the Stoughton and Providence lines, and with Amtrak traffic. However, recent adjustments to the schedules should improve the overall on time performance. The MBTA and Keolis listened to the Needham constituents and changed the schedule for train 606 back to 8:02 am, which should reduce overcrowding on train 604.

Keolis is very excited to welcome their new General Manager, David Scorey, who brings a wealth of international experience and knowledge to the table. While there have been setbacks, their goal is to achieve long term and sustainable quality service. Keolis is taking the necessary steps to effectively change the system they inherited, and to provide quality reliable transportation for all passengers.

Commuter rail riders with concerns regarding issues such as service delays can contact Keolis Customer Service via hotline or email. The customer service line can be reached at 617-222-3200 or by email at All complaints are noted and logged to better improve the commuter rail service. We also recommend that you follow them on twitter @MBTA_CR and sign up for their T Alerts on the MBTA website. There are also a number of smart phone apps, like the Transit App, that can provide valuable information about the MBTA transportation system.

As always, if you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 617-722-1555.
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