Monday, January 26, 2009

Adventures on the MBTA

I've driven to work every day for the past 2 weeks, due to a combination of it being cold out and my not wanting to wait at the bus and train stop, and my being frackin lazy. Taking the bus and train the 8-ish miles to work takes me about an hour door to door; driving takes me 20 minutes, and that's going into Boston.

So I'd decided to be good today. I kissed the Persistent Wife, who was still mostly asleep, left the house at 6:33, shivered, walked down the hill to the bus stop, shivered some more, waited, said hi to Dan, the only other person who's ever there, waited some more, then got on the first of the two buses that showed up at the same time. The T figures, why send only 1 nearly empty bus every 5 minutes, when we can send 2 nearly empty buses every 10 minutes? I suppose that could be considered efficiency, if you squint hard enough.

At the train stop, which is about a 120 second walk from the apartment we used to rent before buying a house in the next town over, I checked out the message board. Nothing except the excruciatingly-worded message not to get on or off a moving train. Great! Except when I looked again a few minutes later, there was a new message about a delay due to mechanical difficulties.

Usually, messages like that one are accompanied by a time from, usually 5-10 minutes, sometimes longer. This morning there was no time estimate. Just...a delay. Very open-ended.

I hung around for another 5 minutes, then walked back up the stairs to the waiting buses, where it was not only warm, but there was the possibility of progress. It left a few minutes later, and when the bus was again approaching the street to my house, I considered getting off, walking back home and taking the car. But no, because I'm being good this week.

2 minutes later, at the bottom of a long hill, the bus broke down.

It's a measure of how often this happens, I think, that there was really no reaction from my fellow riders. Because, I also think, this sort of thing happens a lot. The guy who was most pissed off was the driver. These buses aren't falling to pieces before our very eyes, but they're running all the time, and they get beat on severely. Plus, in a down economy, I would imagine regular maintenance is one of the first things to suffer.

It was another 10 minutes before the next bus arrived -- which seemed excessive, since there was another bus right behind the one I boarded at the train station; why the long wait? -- and much to my surprise we all were able to get on, becuase this new bus was already half full, and we were right there too. There was no room for anyone else, though. I suppose the good news is, we suddenly became an express.

After that it was the typical 3-part commute when I don't take the train: the bus to Harvard Square; the Red Line to Park St.; and the Green Line to North Station. Then a brisk walk to Charlestown, made brisker by the fact that it was 18 when I left the house. But at least I don't live in Norwood like my buddy, where he reported it was -1 this morning. His train was late too.

Wow, it's a shame that mechanical things with engines cease to function when it gets that cold. Well, you know -- except for all those cars on the roads running just fine.

When I drive it takes me about 20 minutes to get to work. Taking the bus and the train is about an hour. Taking the bus and subway -- usually -- only takes a little longer than that. Today? Almost 2 hours, door to door.

I love public transportation. People should use it more.

I hate the T.

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