Broken MBTA

There’s something about malfunctioning mass transit that really gets to people. Or at least really gets to me. It’s a feeling of powerlessness like few others—at least in a car when you’re stuck in traffic you still feel (albeit erroneously) “in control.”

I had allotted myself half an hour to get from Downtown Crossing in Boston to North Station—about a-mile-and-a-half. Normally the train would take less than ten minutes, and the trains come every five to ten minutes. Instead, I waited fourty minutes for a train, then we crawled to North Station, where I had long since missed the train I was trying to catch, disrupting all the rest of my plans for where I was trying to go tonight.

We expect this kind of thing with air travel. It’s tolerable because we don’t do it everyday. But daily commuters reach a breaking point pretty quickly when they get to their destination two hours later than expected.

My only hope is that there is some one in charge who is agonizing over the inconvenience when this happens. Kind of like when the web/email/mail-list server I administer goes down—every minute is a minute when my users are banging up against a broken door with their web browsers and ssh clients, and I feel the pain. I’m just not so sure the MBTA is feeling the pain these days.

Next time maybe I’ll walk.


  1. Tony Bartling Jan 28

    Back in the days before I moved to Cow Country, I never took the T less than 3 stops, because it’s rarely worth it. Considering that Boston is a city that’s so overly reliant on it’s public transit system, the T is horribly inefficient. When I lived in Somerville, the route to work on the roads was 4.5 miles, but riding the T rarely took less than 45 minutes.

  2. UG Jan 28

    NA, You should send this entry to the Boston Globe. It is very well written and it has the right mix of rage and right to attract interest. Make sure to include your blog address.

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