Tuesday, August 27, 2013

MBTA Control Center - Exclusive Report!

Wow, how late can I get? First of all, I really want to thank Dave and Bettina Gentile for letting me visit the MBTA Control Center in Boston. I heard the MBTA offers tours, but I know nothing about them. However, what goes on inside the building is top secret (no pictures allowed within the actual control rooms), so know that this is not a full disclosure.

Upon entering the building, there's a lobby with three maps facing you: a subway map, a full system map, and a Commuter Rail map. They also have every bus schedule for the system, though I don't know who would use them. On the right side of the room, there's a big "T" with very realistic models of trains, a bus, a boat, and a THE RIDE vehicle (see pictures below).

However, though the lobby is interesting, the best part is in the actual control room. A huge screen lines the entire wall, showing every single line, station, switch, and train running on the system. People at computers can control signals and tell trains when to leave the station. They have security cameras to every station in the center of the screens. It's really like "walking into a star ship," as Bettina describes it.

To sum things up, they control everything in here. However, sometimes a switch will break, causing operations to have to be done manually, thereby slowing all the trains down. They also control the buses, though what exactly that means, we don't know because we weren't allowed inside the bus control room. Nonetheless, I conclude by thanking Dave and Bettina again. Without them, this never would've happened, and it's truly an amazing experience. Now here are some photos:

Just to remind you where I went.
It's going to Riverside, it seems.
It's hard to tell in the light, but this is a model Blue Line train.
Hmm... this bus doesn't have a destination sign...
No idea where this Commuter Rail train is going.
This Orange Line train looks a little like a plush toy to me.
So does this Red Line train.
Probably my favorite model of the bunch. This one's outside of the lobby in its own case.
All the models together.
However, I found out that the MBTA has a picture of the control center right on their website! Here it is:


I don't see why they stress this whole "secret control center" thing when they have a picture for everyone to see on their website! You can also get very good pictures by searching "MBTA Control Center" on Google Images. Turns out it's more public than expected...

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