Campus Life stranger than fiction

T is for terrible

Frustrations with the Boston subway system

Boston T, you’ve got a lot to learn from the New York subway system.

How else do you explain how I ended up with a bunch of confused residents outside Harvard, milling around as bewildered as a group of Mormons at a bondage festival?

The Red Line T halted service past Harvard so that the MBTA could complete the “Floating Slab Project” (which frankly sounds like something out of a Lizardmen conspiracy), but it was not at all clear where the shuttle buses were. There was no indication of where we were supposed to go from the back of the subway. We ended up exiting to get our bearings, then going back in to find an MBTA worker. The entire thing could have been avoided if the MBTA just put signs down the entire corridor of the subway.

At least in New York, the MTA has the decency to announce service changes on signs outside the subway entrance, so you don’t have to descend all the way into that pit of concrete to find out the trains are not running.

That’s not the only grudge I have against the T. The trains stop running at 12:30 a.m. (well, now 3 a.m. on weekends, but not weekdays), which means you either walk home in danger of being eaten by a grue, stay put, or pay for a taxi. What about all those drunk revelers who need a safe trip home?

In the show T: An MBTA Musical, there is a female character who gets a bad reputation from staying over at a sketchy guy’s house after the T stops running. Of course, that musical also ended with a threesome in an abandoned station, so the veracity of the situation is suspect. But the T is truly inconsistent. If you take the midnight train going from Worcester to South Station, you can’t ride the T when you arrive. The New York subway system runs all night. It understands the needs of partiers and college students.

Also, what’s with the inbound-outbound descriptions? The “turning point” for the Red Line is Park Street, which means you can get on the inbound train at Kendall, go to South Station, and take the inbound train back. It’s not like everyone in Boston works around Park Street. Since Boston isn’t arranged quite so neatly into “uptown” and “downtown” like New York, if the MBTA tried to imitate the naming scheme, it would have to have “upper left” and “lower right” bound trains. But it could at least be consistent. As it is, the only consistent signpost is the name of the end of the line.

Let’s not even talk about the Green Line.

I realize that there’s a difference in scale between Boston and New York that limits the MBTA. The New York Metropolitan area has 19.9 million residents, whereas the Greater Boston area only has 4.5 million residents. That’s like the difference between a pro football player and a youth football player.

Still, would it hurt to put a few more signs up?