As an ex-hippie, and non-car-owner, I'm all in favor of public transportation. In an ill-planned, one-way befuddled city like Boston, the "T" is often the best way to get around. That is, unless there is a breakdown in the system.
This weekend, unbenownst to me, the train from Kendall Square to Park Street was rerouted through a series of shuttles.
Day 1: Despite the lack of signage and knowledgeable individuals to direct us, the masses emerged from the Kendall Street stop and boarded (crammed) into the waiting shuttle buses. At Park Street station we were required to pay the fare again in order to get back on the train. There is nothing I love more than a delay in my morning commute other than double paying for it.
The way back home got even better. Park Street was a mass of confusion: tourists wandering in every direction, and no obvious sign to the shuttle stop to be found. After much searching I managed to find one MBTA officer who INDIVIDUALLY directed people down the street to South Station. SEVEN hot blocks later I reached South Station only to find even more mass confusion. After much searching I managed to find another single MBTA officer who INDIVIDUALLY directed people around the corner and across the street to the shuttles, where we were crammed, hip to hip, armpit to armpit, for the ride back to Kendall Square.
Day 2: See Day 1.
There are a couple of issues here:
1. Why not ANNOUNCE ahead of time that the MBTA is not in working order. A simple sign or something over the station loudspeakers would do.
2. Have some WELL-LABELED employees around to direct the thousands of people. Give them a loudspeaker or a large sign. FYI: Informing people one at a time of where to go is one of the most inefficient means of conveying information.
3. Add SIGNS that direct people to where they are supposed to pick up the shuttle. If the shuttle stop is a freaking 10 minute walk away, why not inform people of this fact BEFORE they exit the station. I can only imagine how handicapped people got around the city this weekend.
4. If you know that there are going to be delays, why not POST this on the front page of your WEBSITE rather than have people find out in the middle of their commute. If, for example, someone has a wedding to attend that evening, this sort of information would have come in handy ahead of time.
5. I understand that things happen and the trains will break down from time-to-time. These acts of god, however, are not MY FAULT. Do not make the good riders of the MBTA pay twice after rerouting by shuttle. If I were truly an ex-hippie I probably would not insist that the MBTA ought to pay ME for time lost. As things stand, I'm tempted to make that claim.
As I am a pseudo-ex-hippie without a car, I will continue to ride the MBTA. In fact, on Day 2, I took the "T" and double paid for the trip AGAIN. If only I could be assured that the extra income would do some good in this world. At least blogging about it makes me feel slightly better about myself.
p.s. To the right is an image of the Park Street station. Imagine this place overrun by thousands of baffled tourists and commuters. You get the picture.
Images lifted from www.mbta.com and www.blog.netsnaps.com