It’s becoming increasingly difficult to support the MBTA. As a casual rider, I’m coming close to just giving up on it.
I try to do the eco-friendly thing and take public transportation, but the T is making it really, really hard.
Take yesterday for example. I was meeting a friend for sushi in Back Bay. I figured I’d take the bus there and then take the commuter rail home. There’s a bus that goes from 2 blocks to my house and drops off by the Back Bay station. It only takes about 25 minutes, so it’s a nice bus ride…in theory.
Except, yesterday it simply NEVER CAME. After waiting at the bus stop for over 20 minutes in cold weather, I stormed home to take my car. I drove to Back Bay, and got there in 20 minutes. The sushi place validated parking in a garage, so parking only cost me $5.
The bus to Back Bay costs $3.50 because it’s an express bus. The commuter rail home costs $4.75. That comes to $8.25.
To drive to Back Bay and park in said garage? $5 plus $2.50 in round trip tolls. That comes to $7.50. And the added benefit of driving in my car versus taking the T is that I can sing at the top of my lungs without people staring at me like a crazy person.
The T simply isn’t doing anything to entice the casual rider such as myself. It’s expensive and unreliable.
Here’s another example. Matt and I enjoy going to dim sum in Chinatown on the weekends. If we take the commuter rail, it costs $19 for us round trip. If we drive, can park in a lot for $10-$15. AND we don’t run the risk of getting stranded at South Station for hours on end if we happen to miss our commuter rail train going home.
And yes, I do live off the D (Green) Line, but while a lot cheaper (round trip for $2.50) it is not a viable solution. It takes over an hour to go from Woodland to Park Street. According to Google Maps, it’s only 11 miles from Woodland to Park Street. WHY oh WHY does it take over an hour? And as I’ve written before, the rickety old Green Line trains give me motion sickness. A few years ago I threw up in Boston Common because I got sick on the Green Line.
There’s also an express bus that stops right outside of where I work. Coworkers have told me that it’s also unreliable; sometimes it just fails to show up. And this is a FIVE DOLLAR BUS. Why on earth should someone pay that much for a bus that can’t even show up when it’s supposed to? I get that express buses are more expensive, and I’d have little qualms paying extra for the added convenience of getting to my destination quickly, but I can’t bring myself to pay that much money for a sub-par riding experience (i.e, the bus failing to show up).
I think I’m close to giving up on my casual ridership of the T. My “green guilt” and desire to support public transportation caused me to repeatedly take the T for leisure, but I think I’m done. Gas is cheap now, parking garages are less expensive than taking the T from where I live (aside from the green line, but I like to avoid the prospect of vomiting whenever possible), I can get to my destination when I want to, and I don’t have to run the risk of waiting for a bus that may never even arrive.Filed under MBTA, Organic Living/Environment/ETC | Comments (5)
Yesterday I was standing on the T, and I lost my balance. I began to fall, and then I proceeded to trip over some poor unsuspecting guy. Another guy sitting down caught me. I was very embarrassed.
And then, about 2 minutes later, it almost happened again, but I caught myself after tripping over the same guy.Filed under MBTA | Comment (0)
It costs $4.75 to go from South Station to West Newton. After lovely meal of dim sum, Matt drove to Southie for band practice, and I walked to South Station to catch the 12:40 train back to West Newton.
I made the mistake of purchasing my train ticket using a $20 bill at the ticket machine. I now have fifteen dollars worth of dollar coins weighing my pocketbook down.
I could barely close my wallet!! I hate using those coins because cashiers never seem too pleased when I hand them a handful of dollar coins. And I remember from my cashier days that the cash register drawers seldom have a compartment for dollar coins.
SIGH.Filed under MBTA | Comments (2)
I had plans to meet a friend in Central Square at 11 AM. Sounds simple enough, right?
10 AM: Couldn’t get my car out the driveway, AGAIN. For a different reason this time. The city does a poor job plowing our street, so our street has reduced in width by at least 50%. There was a minivan parked across from my driveway so I had no room to back out.
10:20 AM: I told my friend I’d take the T and would be in Central Square by 11:30.
10:30 AM: I went to the bus stop on Elm and Webster. There is a playground there, but the sidewalk was NOT shoveled, so I had to stand in over a foot of snow when I waited for the bus. It was cold and wet.
10:33 AM: The bus miraculously arrived on time. Upon boarding, I realized I forgot my Charlie Card at home so I had to pay with cash. I took the bus to South Station, then the T to Central Square. It took about 45 minutes which isn’t too bad considering it probably normally would have taken 30+parking to drive.
11:20 AM: I grabbed a table at 1369 Coffee House. I had a pumpkin muffin and soy hot chocolate. We had a rousing political discussion, which felt very refreshing.
1:00 PM: I hopped on the T to South Station, thinking it was perfect timing because for some reason I thought there was a 1:30 train to West Newton.
1:25 PM: Arrived at South Station. There was no 1:30 Framingham/Worcester train; there was a 12:55 train and the next one was at 2:40. I had to make a decision. Wait for the train? Or walk to the bus stop near Chinatown and wait for the bus? I didn’t know the bus schedule, but it does run approx. every half hour. I also didn’t know where the bus stopped, but I had a vague idea. And the green line was out of the question because I didn’t trust that the sidewalks on Washington Street would be clear.
1:35 PM: I decided to just wait for the train. It was cold out and since I wasn’t sure when/where the bus would actually stop, I figured it was a good idea. South Station was nice and warm. So, I got some tea because my throat was hurting and a copy of OK! Magazine to read the exclusive interview with Jamie Lynn Spears.
2:40 PM: They still hadn’t announced the track number, so we hadn’t even boarded. At that point, I had to pee really bad from the tea….but I didn’t want to run to the bathroom and miss the train. Luckily, we boarded around 2:45.
3:15 PM: We arrived at the West Newton station. I ran up the stairs, holding in my pee, and then noticed that the piece of sidewalk on the island on Washington and Elm was not shoveled, and the snowbank was several feet tall. So, still holding in my pee, I ran east down Washington Street a little, and then jaywalked along with some other people who had come off the train and didn’t know where to cross the street.
I got home at 3:20. Exhausted.Filed under Greater Boston (General), MBTA, Uncategorized | Comment (0)
I can’t believe I’ve abandoned my blog for over a month. Shame on me. In my defense, a lot has been going on…and I was procrastinating moderating the comments. Since the last time I logged in, I had over 3,000 spam comments. Ouch.
Anyway, the reason I am breaking my silence is to share with you the horrendous experience I had yesterday, thanks to the MBTA.
First off, all weekend the D line was closed from Resevoir to Riverside. Instead, there were shuttle buses.
My “Little Sister” and I were returning to Newton after seeing Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre at the Wang Center. We were on the shuttle bus, which was going down Route 9 in Chestnut Hill (near the mall). Suddenly, the car in front of us braked, and the bus was unable to slow down in a timely manner, so the driver pounded on the horn and swerved into the left lane. He simultaneously almost hit the guy in front of us, and an SUV in the left lane.
Somehow, he missed both. It must have been a matter of inches. Everyone on the bus gasped in unison. My Sister and I were towards the rear of the bus, and it was the type of bus that the back is slightly elevated by one step. We were near the step. If we weren’t holding on tightly to the poles, we would have likely went flying across the bus.
It was pretty terrifying. Especially from where we were standing, we could see everything clearly happen. We were really lucky we didn’t get into an accident. I’m surprised we didn’t, actually. It was VERY close. We were shaking from it for about an hour.
And just think, all summer long they’ll be bussing between Resevoir and Riverside. OH JOY!Filed under Blogs, MBTA, My Life | Comments (4)
I am not a regular T-rider, so a few weeks ago when I took the commuter rail to South Station and had to hop on the red line to meet Matt in Southie, I had forgotten that a) the fares went up and b) they have the new CharlieTickets and CharlieCards. I can’t even remember the difference.
Anyway, the lines at the ticket machines were long, and there was an aggressive MBTA worker trying to move things along fast but not succeeding. The first machine I used did not work. It was really frustrating because there was a long line behind me.
I was irritated because now with the fare hikes, it cost me $6.75. I should have just walked from South Station to Southie to save $2, but it was way too cold out. Luckily I went home with Matt who had his car, but if I was doing a round trip, it would have cost me $13.50. That’s a little pricey, if you ask me. But I think I’d rather pay it than use the green line even though the green line would only cost me $4 round trip. Riding on the green line is just such an unpleasant ride — it would have taken me an hour to get to South Station instead of 22 minutes. Plus, the closest green line station is either a half hour walk (making the ten mile trip to South Station an hour and a half) or a 10 minute drive.
Last night I had a dream about CharlieTickets. I was trying to get one from the machine, and it just wouldn’t work. People were waiting behind me in line, getting aggravated. Finally, when I boarded the train (it must have been at an above ground green line station) the machine wouldn’t accept the card, and the driver began to yell at me! It was horrifying!Filed under Greater Boston (General), MBTA | Comment (1)
After getting off the T in South Station and preparing to wait for the commuter rail, a little old couple told me that their vacation was over and that they had no use for their T-tokens…so, they gave ‘em to me! How sweet!
Of course, they’re only useful at some stations (and will soon be totally useless), and I don’t even know what takes tokens and what takes Charlie Cards these days. But even if I can’t use them, it was a touching gesture!Filed under MBTA, Uncategorized | Comments (2)
I’m generally fairly cutting edge with technology — or so I like to think. I’ve been using email since 1990 when my email address was CFHM67C on Prodigy. I’ve been blogging for over 6 years. I’ve been using Tivo since the year 2000 and I was burning CDs back when people were trying to time the spaces in between the songs on a mix tape.
So, HOW did I miss the boat on this whole MP3 player thing? It’s not that I’m a fan of CDs…because I’m not. I downloaded thousands of songs during the Napster craze, and I’m a loyal Rhapsody user. I haven’t purchased a physical CD in years!
Yesterday, I was meeting a friend in the North End to grab some chow. The commuter rail didn’t leave at a time that I could use it (more on that in another entry), so I opted to walk to Woodland and take the T to Haymarket. From Woodland to Haymarket; that’s quite a ride — nearly an hour. So, I took some Dramamine and grabbed my portable CD player to listen to some music.
In my defense, my portable CD player seemed “cutting edge” at the time. It not only played traditional audio CDs, but also MP3 mix CDs. I thought it was super cool, because it could fit *gasp* 150 songs on it!
On the T, I suddenly felt very self conscious of my clunky CD player. In fact, I hid in in my purse with the headphone wire sticking out so I could listen. Whenever I wanted to press “next”, I guiltily slid my hand in my purse so nobody would see my CD player. I looked around at the people around me with their shiny little MP3 players, a fraction of the size of my CD player. The little white iPod earbuds, the armbands so they can jog with them…JOGGING and listening to music! I can barely walk with my CD player without it skipping! In a city as tech-savvy as Boston, this is inexcusable!
I then realized something even more embarrassing. My headphones were being held together with tape.
I need to get on this MP3 player bandwagon — and pronto! Of course, by the time I do, I bet there will be some other cool technology and I’ll feel like a laughingstock for still owning an MP3 player.Filed under Greater Boston (General), MBTA, Music, My Life | Comments (18)
While waiting for the T, there was a guy walking around talking to himself. Suddenly, he declared: “Man, I need a beer!”
Then he fished around his pockets and pulled out a can of MUG root beer. “Oh, I found one,” he said, then offered it to a stranger. “Want one?”Filed under Greater Boston (General), MBTA, overheard | Comment (1)
Gas prices are now $3 a gallon for regular. Yet, here in Massachusetts where we are blessed with what could be the best public transportation system in the country, we seem to be doing everything we can to drive people away from the T.
It is now clear, as it should have been at the time it happened, that tying the T to one penny on the sales tax as its principal revenue source was a terrible mistake. The T is a public service, just like our highways. It is a critically important piece of our metropolitan and state economy. It needs expansion, not contraction.
Dukakis also referred to the fare hike as “utter madness”.
The MBTA is in bad shape right now. I still think it’s better than BART, but the Bay Area is far more car-oriented than Greater Boston (especially inside 128), so it’s important that the MBTA improves before they hike the fares up.
I live in Newton, work in Waltham, and have a car. However, I don’t like to depend on my car
I haven’t rode on the blue or orange lines extensively, but I am fairly familiar with the red line. The red line is alright. The green line is dreadful. I can’t believe it even exists. It’s almost useless. I could walk along the B-line route faster than taking the trolley. The D-line is better than the B, but as I’ve complained previously, the entire green line system is antediluvian! It’s barely time effecient and coming from Newton it won’t even be more economical.
Right now, I can get to the Fenway stop for $3. With the proposed fare hike (eliminating free outbound rides from above-ground stops), it would cost about $5. If Matt and I wanted to take the T to the Fenway, it would cost us about $10. It would be quicker and not a whole lot more expensive for us to drive and park in a lot. I wouldn’t be so opposed to a fare hike if the service was better — but if it takes over a half hour of a wobbly trolley ride just to get to the Copley Square stop, that’s not efficiency. If I’m going to pay more for the T, I want to know that there are going to be significant improvements.
Here’s what I’d like to see:
1) Green line improvements. Frankly, I don’t know that they could even do much with the existing system. I wish they’d just start from scratch with the green line, although that’s not a realistic idea.
2) More frequent commuter rail service. I live a mile from Woodland but a 3 minute walk from a commuter rail station. If my company happens to move to Boston, I’d take the commuter rail because I can get downtown in about fifteen minutes. If I miss a train home, I could be stuck there for over an hour or take the green line home which would take over a half hour and then I’d have to walk a mile to get home or ask Matt to pick me up from the station. I don’t mind walking the mile, but if the weather is inclement or I’m exhausted from work, it’s not so much fun.
3) More buses. Buses are an easy solution. They don’t need specific tracks or anything and can go wherever cars go. I’d like to see more buses in Newton in general.
I think it would also be a great idea (but probably also unrealistic) to have bus routes connecting the end of different lines…sort of creating a circle. That way, if I wanted to take public transportation to Harvard Square from Woodland, I wouldn’t have to go inbound to Park Street and then outbound to Harvard Square.
4) Improvement of the triple digit “express” buses. These buses have so much potential to be great. When I lived in Watertown I wound up waiting over a half hour for the 504 to meet up with a friend near Copley Square and the bus never came. I gave the 504 two more chances and it either always showed up very late or didn’t show up at all. Once I got on the bus, it was very quick and by far the most efficient way to get certain places.
I now live near a 554 bus stop and its infrequency makes it useless. Same with the commuter rail, actually, which is why I tend to go to Woodland and take the green line in. However, if the fare hike happens I might start having to drive everywhere.
Jason provides valuable info re: MBTA:
There needs to be a comprehensive and long-term transportation plan for the Commonwealth.
Exactly! So what IS the big plan for the T? Are things EVER going to improve?
MassMarrier believes that the MBTA should be free for all. While this might not be a reasonable solution at this time, an anonymous commenter offers an idea:
One possible way to ease in to this and avoid the challenge of rush hour is to start by making the T free only during off hours.
Of course, going immediately to full, free transit on the buses and subways would lead to big crowds attempting to use them, but, unless you actually get crowds so large they are physically dangerous, this is not such a bad problem. People unwilling to face such crowds will find alternative forms of transportation. All those interested in a less crowded system will start to advocate for more trains and buses. The system will have more stakeholders than ever, while air in the region will grow healthier, and regional waistlines will shrink as people walk and bike to their T-stops.
A relatively small increase in the gas tax could fully pay for this program. While it is never fun to think of expensive gas, the fact of life is that gas costs are rising. We can either add to the tax and spend some money trying to wean ourselves from the addiction, or we can do nothing and send all the money to Saudi Arabia, Exxon, etc.
Outraged Liberal says:
What executives have not done is ride the system. Red, Green, Blue, Orange. Silver or bus. That reality does not match the brochures. Schedules are a fantasy. Trains arrive one after the other, then nothing for 15 minutes, stacking up bodies on platforms like firewood. Until something approaching service is provided, commuters are better off paying outrageous gasoline prices.
For more T-related chatter, especially about the proposed fare increase, click here.
I was initally going to avoid writing about this, but the more I thought about it the more angry I got. I think as patrons of the MBTA, we need to be assured that big, impressive changes are in store for us after such a fare increase.Filed under Greater Boston (General), Local & State Politics, Local News, MBTA | Comments (7)