T-icked off

A lame title to capture the following rant about the T, I know…stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

You leave your house at 9 a.m. to get the bus to the train to school for your 10 a.m. class.  School is 5 miles from your house.  The bus to train route is ~45 minutes door to door, assuming everything arrives on time.

The last part, that’s the punch line.  This being Boston – which, according to my co-TA Rachel, is a legend among transit scholars for its abysmal performance in managing and delivering public transportation services – the bus was late.  This being Boston, the bus was not 5 minutes late, but 35. 
Where I wait, you can see down Chestnut Hill Av to watch the bus approach.  Or not, as the case may be.  The infuriating bit – beyond waiting in the blazing sun or 10 degree weather, depending on the season – is that the bus originates 3 stops down from here, just on the other side of Cleveland Circle.  So for those of us who can’t figure out how this f***ing system works, you’re left standing there, sweating or shivering but certainly cursing, envisioning the bus just sitting on the other side of the Circle, with the driver hanging in Dunkin Donuts with the other T employees who loiter there daily (2 of the Green line routes end right in the area, and there is a train yard behind Dunkins).  You’d never stop to think it’s crashed somewhere along its excessively long route originating on the Brighton/Brookline border, traveling through Cambridge to the Somerville/Charlestown border, unable to come back and pick you up.      Nah, you know the driver is just chillin, with a whole lot of illin, down in Cleveland Circle with the rest of the T flunkies.

My grandfather – my dad’s dad – used to work on the trolleys (the Green line trains), driving them from time to time and fixing them out in Brighton’s train yards near my house.  My dad would play baseball out in the parks around there, and his dad could come and watch these games.  That’s a nice memory, and one I loved hearing from my dad while we drove around my new neighborhood in June 2005, running errands and getting me settled.  The elderly man in my building who used to sit in the lobby every morning from 10 to noon told me I would love it here, with the trolley outside and Dunkin Donuts down the street.  Indeed, I looked for a place on public transportation, hoping to be car free for as long as possible.  I have 3 train lines and multiple bus routes near my condo.  But I’ve learned the hard way that if the bus is not on time, it’s not coming any time soon.  Another form of “road rage” to get (re-)acquainted with as I returned to the ancestral land where I first learned the rules of the road. 

I drive to school most mornings now, a 30 minute commute door to door, including the long walk from the parking lot to my office.  I miss having the time to read on the bus or train, but I can’t take the homicidal feeling I get from waiting like this, or from the daily uncertainty of knowing when the next time the bus will veer completely off course and take a half hour to show up.  By the time I got to school this morning, I wanted to rip out the seats in the Chem E’s fancy auditorium style lecture hall where class meets; my desire to “act out” as my mother the mental health practitioner describes it, was overwhelming.  I could stand to be more patient, but for anyone who finds themselves at the whimsies of a poorly run public (or quasi-public, in the case of Amtrak, don’t get me started!) transit system, there’s few more effective ways to remind you of your lowly place in society than to have your mode of transit be late, absent or just not get you to where you need to be.  For such a little city, the average ride sure seems to take 45 minutes between any 2 points.  Unsurprisingly, I am not the only ticked off Masshole. 

FYI, I arrived at school at 10:20.  5 miles in 80 minutes.  I could have walked. 


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