Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The MBTA commute from heck

Today's commute wasn't like yesterday's, but still, I'll be glad to be rid of the commuter rail, and start riding the T. I know the T has its problems, too, but not like the commuter rail. The commuter has terrible service, and the scheduling makes it pretty much useless except during rush hour. You can pretty much toss it on weekends, holidays, and midday and late night.

Thanks to the blizzard on Monday, yesterday the parking lot in Framingham was snowed in. I can't tell if more people ride the T when the weather's bad nor not, not wanting to stand out in the cold and wet. Anyway there are less parking spots because the city just piles up the snow in huge mounds without carrying it away.

And you have to deal with antiquated payment system where each day you put in four dollars into this big box-matrix, matching the number of your parking spot with a little slot into which you have to slip in money (any combination of paper and coins) with cold fingers while standing in a puddle and getting splashed by passing cars whose drivers are driving too fast because they're in a hurry to get a non-existent spot. Plus, the numbers painted in each parking slot are painted with white paint, and not some more visible color like red or yellow, so after a snow you can't always quite tell the number of your slot. 21? Or is it 27?

So, yesterday, the first thing I had to contend with is the normal traffic tie-up through downtown Framingham. I come in from behind MCI Framingham, so the road I come up backs up, like all the other roads, when a train crosses Rte. 126. Most mornings I scoot up the wrong side of the street since cars don't come at you, because they're tied up just like I am.

And I've always wondered if the horrendous traffic problem in downtown Framingham is left that way because it's just brown people that live over there.

Yesterday, there were no more parking spots in the lot, so quick I drove over to the gas station where you can hand the guy five bucks and park there for the day. But yesterday, again because of the snow, people where parked willy-nilly. Chasing down, then trying to talk to a guy fluent in Portuguese but not English took up too much time, and I watched the last train for a half hour slip out of the station. So, yesterday, I drove into Boston, and paid 19 bucks to park under the Common.

And while I drove and crept through one suburb after another, I thought of the billions of dollars that were spent on the Big Dig, and thought of the lack of visionaries in this state who could have taken that money, knocked down the Central Artery, built parking garages north and south of the city, and built a way cool public transportation system throughout the outer regions of the city that ran all the all day and night.

Today, after negotiating the traffic snarl, I got the last spot on the lot. I can't believe my life is reduced to the point where getting a parking spot constitutes reason to celebrate.

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