Friday, November 14, 2008


So, the bane of my commute to work is taking the T every weekday morning and evening. I will say that despite all of the problems, it's still better than when I lived in NJ and drove to work every day (and I was lucky--I reverse commuted and rarely every got stuck in traffic). But the amount of grief the T causes me is ridiculous.

Between rude people who won't move further into the train, resulting in crowding at the doors when there is plenty of room in the trolley, or rude people who push onto the train without letting others off first (hint: you'll have more room on the train if you let people off at their stops), to rude people who are stuck in the stairs and don't move off the train at stops to let people getting off get on (hint: see above, and also, you'll still be able to get back on the train!), to rude people who stand in the stairs when the train is empty (WTF?), to baffling people who will stand around an empty seat in an excess of politeness, to expressed trains that pass you by, leaving you waiting for often quite a long time for another train, to tourists and people on their way to Red Sox games who don't know the etiquette of riding the train (it's common sense, people!)...(holy run-on sentence, Batman!) there are a lot of frustrations involved in riding the T.

Perhaps none are so infuriating as when there is a problem with the T itself. I understand that accidents are going to happen. Someone is too tired, or not paying quite enough attention, or whatever. We are all only human, so we make mistakes and accidents happen. The key difference is how accidents are taken care of, and the MBTA routinely fails to take care of problems quickly or efficiently. Case in point, the accident this morning at the Boylston St T stop. Two Green line trains collided, injuring 7 people aboard (out of 500). The trains weren't derailed, the tracks were fine. They set up shuttle service between the Arlington St (one stop outbound) and Government Center (two stops inbound). I take the B line of the Green line into work every day. The last above ground stop on the B line is Blandford St, before it goes to Kenmore and joins up with the C and D lines.

When we reached Blandford St this morning, we were told we'd be standing by. Moments later, we were informed that Blandford would be the last stop, and we should walk to Kenmore and catch another train. So the full train unloaded, and we all went to Kenmore and squeezed onto the first train we could. That T proceeded to crawl forward, spending a long time standing still in between stops before inching forward to repeat the process. We weren't given any more information at the next stop, Hynes, except "There was traffic up ahead," and "some delays." The train continued its underground crawl to Copley, the next stop, where we were all told to get off the train, and that there were buses waiting above ground. I was only two or three blocks from work at that point, so I walked. It wasn't until after I got to work (at 10:30) and was able to get on the internet that I was able to find out about the accident.

The MBTA should have informed the conductors of the full nature of the problem, who in turn should have informed the passengers--I could easily, and far more quickly walked to work from Blandford St, and I'm sure some people would have taken cabs. Underground service between Kenmore and Arlington should not have continued--buses should have been provided. Kenmore is one of the few underground stops where trains can be taken out of service easily, alleviating some of the underground traffic. It's just so frustrating that there was no communication about the accident. This article in the Globe doesn't mention the hour and a half delays experienced by passengers between Kenmore and Arlington, the numerous commuters who were late to work, the students who were late to class (or exams).

Seriously, MBTA. You are one of the most important transportation arteries in the city of Boston, if not THE most important. You need to be able to clear up traffic in a timely fashion and get passengers where they need to be, not stick them underground for hours with no idea of what the problem is. Thousands of people depend on you for transportation.

Grouchily yours,


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