Sunday, October 16, 2011

Salem Depot Update

Message board at Salem Depot HP parking area

Two updates on Salem Depot:  Several of us from the Salem Commission on Disabilities met here at Salem Depot with representatives from the Salem and MBTA Police to discuss handicapped parking problems at the station.  The Salem News wrote about this in some detail.

There wasn’t much that the police could do at the moment, since there is no continual monitoring of the area, by video or otherwise, but the T placed a message board, seen in in the image, for the interim.  October and Halloween represent the biggest month that this station sees in car and foot traffic, so this sign is not or should not be an unexpected expense for the T.

I never read the Salem News comment section, but there was one comment to that article I want to address:  The commenter believes that, instead of enforcing HP parking, that people with disabilities should use the T’s paratransit service, The Ride.

Um, they could.  But as I’ve written before, that service is very expensive to provide.   Using The Ride for direct service from, say, North Salem to Boston is just nuts if one can make the commuter rail.  And using The Ride as a shuttle to the station itself is practically a non-starter with Salem’s downtown traffic as bad as it is.

It turns out to be much cheaper, in the long run, for the MBTA to make their regular service accessible to people with disabilities.  The current management at the T seems to realize this, only after decades of neglect—and lawsuits.

My second update is more disturbing.  There was a robbery at the station one night last month.  A student was robbed of his laptop and iPod to the tune of $1,400, while waiting for a ride around 9 PM.

On reading this in the News, I can imagine the good people of Federal Street locking their doors in unison.  It’s not safe at 9 PM, after all.

I have been at the Depot late at night getting off a train.  It’s not at all unusual to call for a ride or a taxi.  9 PM is not a “wrong” time to be on the T.

My Mom told me stories of the old Salem Depot, not the famous headhouse that was demolished 50 years ago, but the two that sat under the south end of Riley Plaza.

A platform that was virtually invisible from the street. 

There were crimes and assaults on that platform up until it was closed in 1987 when the current station opened.

It is not acceptable to have someone minding their business at the station, waiting for their ride home, and being robbed. 

It’s intolerable that we should be taking these events  for granted, but many do.  I know, we’re in a recession, government is ineffective, and can’t we just wait for better days?  We’ll build a better Salem Depot to the shrine of Sammy McIntyre someday soon!

I’m coming to think that nobody in Salem wants a new train station, not the politicians, not the Salem News 101st Keyboard Brigade, not the neighborhood groups, or the “government-is-bad” people, nobody.

More on my next post.

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