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Free wifi at the airport?

"Ward Vandewege" <ward at> wrote:
> I've been wondering what incredible moron designed the new fare
> collection equipment they are installing on the busses. ...but
> whoever on the MBTA side approved the purchase of these things should
> be fired

I got a little taste of government procurement a few years ago when the
turnpike authority solicited bids for what became Fastlane.  Managers
collected a half-dozen bids, making each company jump through a lot of hoops
to get them submitted on time.  In the end, it was all basically rigged to
favor whichever big defense contractor (I forget which) had already deployed a
handful of EZ Pass systems in other states.  The best technology never had a
chance to prevail, it was always about whoever had the most clout early in the
game.  By 1998, the game was over and any rival whose equipment was
incompatible with EZ Pass could just forget about winnng contracts.  Spineless
government officials never attempted to create and enforce a multi-vendor
standard which would permit ongoing innovation.

Yet knowing this and having been on the front lines of this in a couple of
areas of technology, I still scratch my head when it comes to MBTA
procurement.  They seem to go out of their way to buy crappy, overpriced
technology that no other city has ever used before.

Even more years ago, I remember the city of Boston announcing a $10 million
project to create a network of smart traffic signals.  Not only did this never
seem to happen, but the whole idea seems to have died in favor of kowtowing to
the pedestrian-safety lobby.  This afternoon it took me about 12 minutes to
get through the 9 traffic lights between Inman Square and Lechmere, a stretch
of less than 2 miles with no reasonable alternative routes available.  Several
billion dollars' worth of condos and retail development are under construction
at the Lechmere end of that route.  Can anything be done to at least come up
with a computer model of a better way to meet the needs of both drivers and
pedestrians, or are we doomed to permanent gridlock once the development's

Just wanting to find out if anyone's working on these technology issues--not
necessarily relevant to this forum's focus Linux usage, though my solutions
would of course be based on Linux servers--on the political or development
sides of the infrastructure business.  So far my conclusion is that no one is;
I've toyed with the idea of running for Cambridge City Council on this
platform, but I think I'd have the stroller-mom crowd gang up on me and run me
out of town if I proposed alternatives to the current focus on "traffic


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