rage against the T

I just moved from Jamaica Plain to Dorchester, and thus have switched to the Red from the Orange Line as my sort of subway line of choice. Not that I have one. And they know that.

Before the switch, I used to have this notion that the Red Line was swankier than the Orange Line. I mean, it does go up to Cambridge and all, and it seemed like whenever I rode it back in the day it was at least climate controlled. And then there was the slightly updated look of the subway cars. The black and red. It was bold. It was now. Particularly compared to the Orange line, where everything inside was brown. Very blah. The Red Line crowd also seemed somehow more urbane. Hipper. Crisper. The Orange Line crowd seemed sort of crumpled in comparison.

Now I don't know what to think, quite honestly. The Red Line is more crowded, that's for sure. There are more hotties on it, too, in my humble opinion. At first the MBTA staff even seemed more polite. They actually made little announcements, to make up for that automated voice that tells you which stop's coming up. There's no automated voice on the Orange Line, and the only time they make an announcement aside from mumbling the name of the stop, is to tell you to "get out the effin' door, ya effin' animals!" The Red Line conductors do seem to wait for people a little, whereas Orange Line conductors are merciless and often actively malicious.

But while I liked it, sort of, at first--I mean, the chatty Red Line conductors--after a very short time the chit-chat got old, especially when I realized they were lying to us half the time anyway. All these "schedule readjustments." Or the old "there's another train directly behind this one." Mm-hmm. How many times do you think I'm gonna fall for that one?

Recently I got a whiff of malice on the Red Line. I board at JFK/UMass, which is where the outbound rail splits off into two tracks. What that means if you're inbound, which I usually am, is that you have double the choices, as for trains, right? There are two platforms, so the only inconvenience is that you have to wait upstairs in the station for a little buzzer to sound and a light to light up pointing you to the platform where the next train's arriving. It's very pavlovian. You should see it. It gives new meaning to "rat race". The buzzer sounds, the light lights up, and the hordes immediately scurry like lab rats to the indicated platform. Well, this morning the left light lit up, and everyone scuttled down the stairs to the platform. But after three or four minutes, the train arrived on the OTHER platform, har har har. All we could do was stare at it in disbelief. See, you can't get over there except by running up the stairs, over the tracks and back down. And running after trains, trams and trolleys is not only desperate and degrading, it's futile. Because you'll never get there in time, especially if they see you coming. And then if you do, your moment of triumph is dampened by the looks of loathing on the faces of the commuters you've forced to squeeze that much closer together to accommodate you. The way I look at it is, it's fate. If I was meant to be on that train I'd have been standing on the right platform when it came.

Anyway, two disabled trains came after that, so it was the fourth train, twenty minutes later, that finally whisked me off to the city center. Very efficient-like.

So here's the deal. I'm here for you. I feel your pain. Send me your rage, my babies. In painstaking detail. I will post it all. We will compile a massive list of meticulously recounted individual grievances, about anything having to do with the MBTA, from that obnoxious puddle of stagnant piss-water at the top of the escalator in Arlington Station to rats the size of alligators--or was that an actual alligator?--at Downtown Crossing. Tell me your tales of woe. About the crazy dude who got on at Chinatown and terrorized everyone acting out an entire episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" right there in front of you. About the fat lady with the fried chicken dinner who sat down on top of you at Roxbury Crossing, and chowed down, and didn't even offer to let you gnaw on her bones. Send them. I will post them.

Then we will have proof.


At 10/26/2005 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you might benefit from having a bicycle. Can I send you one from Indianapolis? Ideally I'd send you the tandem bike and I'd ride in the back, or the front, whichever you like prefer.

At 10/28/2005 8:34 AM, Blogger G said...

there's a kind of evil logic in "there's another train directly behind this one." i've heard this announcement dozens of times, and nearly every time the train "directly" behind the first train takes a good 10-15 minutes to arrive. of course, the next train is going to be directly behind the first one - it's on the same track. even if the train were miles away, it could still be said to be directly behind the first one.

it's an amazing lie/non-lie that conveys no information. it's like a lawyer wrote it.

At 10/28/2005 11:31 AM, Blogger Monk said...

I have a tale of woe, about getting lost every single damn time I try to get to 93 north from South Boston. The first few times I ended up in the historical district, but the last time it was Chinatown.

How is this related to the MBTA? Well, I was driving a Boston Metro truck, you see. Whenever you writers decide to get creative and pump out the big articles on Fridays (ok, pump out the big advertisements), some sucker like me has to drive the extra truck down, full of bloated Metros on the presumtion that, somehow, those extra pages are going to last people the entire weekend. Sometimes it's 3 extra trucks, because last Friday someone managed to sell the idea of a 48 (!) page Metro, the biggest ever.

PS- I'm not seriously angry or bitter, and the advertisement comment was just a friendly dig =p The advertisement model is the future-- the subscription model is on the way out.

At 10/28/2005 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The T sounds like every other public transportation system in every other place I've ever had the misfortune of having to ride it. Actually, once in Hamilton, Ontario, I got a really bad flu from riding the HSR (Hamilton Street Railway. That city is the worst I have ever been to. I'd consider myself lucky to live in Boston and ride the T! Although, Toronto's system isn't bad... I could still tell you some stories though...

At 11/06/2005 7:21 PM, Blogger snarl71 said...

I've got numerous gripes about how public transit got screwed with broken promises associated with the Big Dig (North/South rail link, blue line extension from Bowdoin to Charles to connect red/blue lines, green line service coming back to Jamaica Plain, etc...) but my biggest gripe has been an on-going problem since I started using the T regularly in 1989.

Why the fuck don't all green line trains go to North Station? After South Station, this is the next biggest transit hub in the system. Yet only 1/2 of all green line trains go there. The rest turn around at Government Center (sometimes even Park Street).

Why? The transit system is designed to get people from Point A to Point B. This stupidity would be unheard of in any other major transit system. I can't tell you how many times I've had to wait at Park Street only to watch 4, 5, 6 or more "Government Center" trains go by before an overly crowded "Lechemere" train appears.

Making things worse, 1/2 of the green line trains also don't reach Haymarket Station...where countless bus connections are.

This is a prime example of why commuters would rather drive. The system is being made more inconvenient than it has to be. North Station is a MAJOR station. Why can't all trains turn around AFTER this station instead so that commuters can transfer efficiently? When I lived in Salem, there were many times that I missed my commuter rail because of this.

Inconveniences and illogical planning like this are precisly why people will choose to drive instead.


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