Readers say Route 128 Station in Westwood has a perpetual problem: broken escalators and elevators.
Back in February, Westwood resident Bill Irvine wrote in to describe the Amtrak and commuter rail stop as “an embarrassment.” During the winter, a friend who uses ski poles to walk couldn’t get to the platform he needed because both the elevator and the escalator reaching it were broken, Irvine said.
“It is an inconvenience for me, but it is a total lack of respect for Eric that the station is not fully operable,” he wrote.
The problem has persisted. Last week, Gordon Stevenson wrote in to say that the escalators for both platforms and one of the station’s two elevators were out of service. Stevenson said he has been going to the station regularly for six or seven years.
“I don’t recall that the escalator from track 2 to the pedestrian walkway has ever worked,” he wrote. “Ever!”
So who is responsible for those escalators and elevators? Though the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority uses the station as a stop on its Providence/Stoughton line, Amtrak is responsible for its upkeep, said Joe Pesaturo, a T spokesman.
Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz said the company has already started fixing the problem. The two escalators are still broken but both elevators are working, he said.
And the company has started a project to replace both the escalators and elevators so that they won’t break down so often, Schulz said.
Unfortunately, he said, replacing the elevators also means the company will be taking the elevator on Platform 2 out of service.
Schulz said Amtrak will give riders extra help during that time by driving passengers from Platform 2 to the front door of the station.
“We recognize that this is an inconvenience for many passengers and sincerely apologize for that,” he said.
The new elevators will be installed by mid-September, and the new escalators will be in place by early next year, Schulz said.
Irvine said he’s still not satisfied with that timeline.
“It’s a joke,” he said. “Travel anywhere else in the world and it’s not like that. It’s absurd.”
Pass holders can join suit against T, Keolis
A commuter has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and its commuter rail operator for their “complete and utter failure” to provide reliable service during this winter’s stretch of snowstorms.
In her lawsuit, filed last month in Middlesex Superior Court, Raquel Rodriguez contends that the MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services should provide refunds for all of their customers who bought monthly passes in January, February, or March.
By failing to provide “timely and reliable service” during those months, the T and Keolis breached their contracts with the pass holders, the suit said.
Robert Richardson, a Boston-based lawyer who represents Rodriguez, called the T’s response to the storms “inexcusable.”
“If you don’t provide the service you’re supposed to provide, you should refund people,” said Richardson. “That’s how our economy works.”
After the series of snowstorms walloped the transit system in late January and February, the T’s commuter rail system operated significantly fewer trains. Keolis took more than six weeks to fully restore its schedule.
Keolis spokeswoman Leslie Aun said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
Joe Pesaturo, a T spokesman, said in an e-mail that the transit system does not believe the lawsuit has any merit. He added that the T “has already taken steps to thank customers for their patience and loyalty over the winter.”
As a goodwill gesture, the T offered free rides on trains, buses, and ferries on April 24, and offered a discount on monthly passes for this month. But the lawsuit filed on April 22 argues that the response was not good enough.
Monthly passes for the commuter rail can be a significant investment, costing between $75 and $362. Commuter rail provides about 30 percent of the MBTA’s overall fare revenue.
Richardson did not provide more information about Rodriguez, who is described only as a “resident of the Commonwealth” in the lawsuit.
Richardson said he is looking for other pass holders to join the lawsuit, and has set up a website, www.mbtaclassaction.com, to provide more details.
He said he has fielded “thousands of inquiries” through e-mails and phone calls, but he declined to say how many people had joined the suit.