Friday, September 28, 2007

The MBTA, Boston, and car jackers

Writing about the MBTA is like writing about politicians and their shenanigans: every day it's all a joke. I mean, how many ways can you say the trains didn't run on time? Well, if you're the MBTA, the possibilities seem endless.

Last night I had to be at my daughter's high school by 7:00 for an open house. That meant me grabbing the 5:30 out of South Station. Normally the 6:05 would get me into Framingham by 6:45 (the schedule says 6:40, but that's never happened.) Well, I couldn't get out of work early, so I hopped on the 6:05 figuring I'd just have to be late and of course we got the usual announcement after we were underway that we would be held by the CSX dispatcher because of the work they're doing on the tracks.

We pulled into Back Bay and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally the conductor got on the horn and said that we would be delayed indefinitely because of a State Police investigation at Yawkey. (Turns out there was a car-jacking on the Mass Pike, and the bad guys escaped over the tracks.) We were to seek "alternate forms of transportation."

Well, there really aren't alternate forms of transportation if you live out in the western suburbs. It's the commuter rail; that's how you get in, that's out you get out.

In the end, some guy walked up to me. Don't you get on at Framingham? he asked. He recognized me. Weird, but I don't think I'd recognize my fellow travelers. We ended up sharing a cab with another guy, and I'm 25 bucks broker.

Granted, the MBTA couldn't help any of this, but while I was sitting in Back Bay I was thinking of all the money that was spent on the Big Dig here in Boston. Yeah, that section of the city does look better. But they said it improves peoples' commuting time from the north and south by only a few minutes. Traffic is still gridlock to the west. And I couldn't help but think that if we valued public transportation just a bit more, that all that dough could have improved the train service here. The T just keeps getting worse.

Funny, in 1980 when I first visited this city on my spring break in college, the T ran on time and the days were sunny. I don't think it's ever been like as long as I've live here.

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