THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
< Back to front page Text size +

A mix of surprises and the utterly predictable on the MBTA

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  September 21, 2012 06:26 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

crowded train sept 2012 2.jpg

(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)

No one was surprised to find this rush-hour train was packed.

Surprises and the utterly predictable on the MBTA

Storified by Jeremy C. Fox · Fri, Sep 21 2012 14:31:58

Life on the MBTA is full of surprises. Of course, many of them aren't much fun, but some are actually pretty great. Looking at each week's #MBTAbrag tweets, it's easy to see that most of the excitement people are tweeting about is due to some kind of unexpected kindness or efficiency.

It's those pleasant little surprises that can make your whole commute feel a lot better. And because most commuters have such low expectations, even a small jolt of happiness makes a bigger impression. Take, for example, this week's first #MBTAbrag tweet:
Was just called a princess by the guy giving out newspapers at the Copley station #mbtabragLauren Leger
A little chivalry can go a long way -- from one end of your commute to the other, even.

But other elements of the MBTA experience are sadly predictable. For instance, every daily MBTA commuter knows it's rare to get through a week without some kind of delay. Just look at all these different places, causes, and varieties of delays:
Mon morning & long delays on Newburyport/Rockport line. Where's that extra money is being spent? Obv not on train repairs. #mbta #mbtaannoyMichelle Clements
If there's a disabled train at South Station, why is an outbound train at Park Street not moving? #mbtaannoyAnne
It would be nice if the MBTA would acknowledge delays or problems. Ever. #mbtaannoyAnne
It's Tuesday, so that must mean my train is 15 mins late. #argh #mbtaannoy #framinghamworcesterSara F.
Well, after weeks of punctual service, there are virtually never any Lechmere Ts at gov Center. #mbtaannoylauren
Empty northbound platforms & I couldn't get on the packed Braintree train typical Red Line afternoon #mbtaG#mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
Thank you Davis for finally sending another packed Braintree train hope it wasn't too much trouble #mbtaannoy #mbtaGM #mbtarev8056
No Red Line driver there isn't another train right behind It is 10-15 minutes behind #mbtaannoy #mrev8056
The situation can be so bad that just getting the train turns into the kind of surprise that inspires an #MBTAbrag tweet.
Go @mbtaGM! An inbound train @ jfk! Excellent! #mbtabrag godzilla
It is worth drawing the distinction between those delays the MBTA can't avoid, due to sudden mechanical problems and the like, and those delays that are a result of MBTA policies.
#MBTA I get what you're trying to do with the whole front exit only thing, but it causes major delays. 3 trains at 1 stop #MBTAannoyarden
Of course a late train is at least better than a train (or bus) that is missing entirely.
There may be a shuttle diversion at JFK today, but there still needs to be a train to get me to JFK. Where is the Red Line? #mbtaannoyAlyssa Biggs
It would have been nice if any bus going to Kenmore would have shown up in the past 30 min. #MBTAannoy #longwoodTrisha Fortin
Here's a rider who thought he could see a delay before it it even began.
AM on Red Line This train is falling apart I guess I am riding on a future disabled train #mbtaannoyrev8056
Unfortunately, as this same tweeter and others show, equipment problems exist all over the system.
1 week into new parking system @ Briantree & 1 gate along with ticket machine are broken Great job as usual T #mbta #mbtaannoy #mbtaGMrev8056
It is not even hot out & the temperature in this train is about 90 Another wonderful Rd Line afternoon #mbtaannoy #mbtaGMrev8056
Can we just leave the doors open on this train before someone passes out? It's not like all the doors even open #mbtaannoy #mbtaGMrev8056
Still broken. @mbtaGM #mbtaannoy http://pic.twitter.com/8D9g4vPYNeenah Estrella-Luna
It should surprise no one to hear that some of the MBTA's problems can be avoided simply by not riding at peak hours.
Red line is much more peaceful at 11 compared to 9. I could get used to these work hours. #mbtabragSean Fahey
Of course, that's often not an option. And any time you ride the train you will probably have to deal with some problems created by other passengers. Here's a sampling of some recent riders behaving badly.
Thanks for hotboxing the chinatown elevator, my baby and I really don't mind. #MBTAannoy #MBTAproblemsThe Nandra
is it impossible for guys to sit without having their legs spread as far apart as possible? #MBTAannoyCourtney Ann Wills
"yo' tell that hoe you got a bro date. Nah...a cho-date!" ... And this, friends, is why I chose to be single. #overheardinBoston #mbtaannoyMarissa Breton
Waiting for a platform to clear in Braintree. Every time it is a complete surprise to them that a train is arriving #mbtaannoyrev8056
Time to bake in the sun waiting for platform @ Braintree I guess they are surprised AGAIN that a train arrived #mbtaannoy #mbtaGMrev8056
The annoying qualities of other passengers are only made worse when your train or bus is overcrowded.
Dangerously crowded conditions on this morning's 036 Commuter Rail. #MBTA cuts cars on Kingston route. @MBTAgm #MBTAannoy @BostonGlobeRob Molla
Only at Downtown and train packed tight Probably should have run more Braintree trains not back to back Ashmonts #mbtaGM #mbtaannoyrev8056
But if one rider calls another out for being inconsiderate, the result can be satisfying.
Asked guy hogging two seats on crowded train if I could sit where his bag is. He got up in a huff and left 2 seats open. #mbtabragNeenah Estrella-Luna
And there are even rare moments of true camaraderie among MBTA riders.
Love seeing the one other passenger on the Orange Line that stares up at the view between Tufts Med & Back Bay Stations with me. #MBTAbragJustin
One of the biggest surprises you can find on the T is a train or a bus that is suddenly transformed into a mobile theater or nightclub.
Somehow magically wound up on green train full of high school boys chorus singing Smashmouth 'All Star' into Lion King track #mbtabragAriel Shearer
Both #MBTAannoy & #MBTAbrag This Saturday Night D Line is more like a @Bustonian Party Bus except I'm not drinking yet. #CollegeKidsBackCoach Kev @SupahFans
It's when thing when your fellow passengers get on your nerves, but when drivers are the annoying ones, it can actually be dangerous.
#MBTAAnnoy C Line just put the brakes before Copley on hardest I've ever seen. Nobody Move, Nobody got hurt. Passengers unloaded. #MBTABragCoach Kev @SupahFans
Of course, there are other ways MBTA employees can disappoint you.
Well this train didn't get cleaned last night. #disgusting #MBTAannoyTrisha Fortin
But some MBTA employees are full of pleasant surprises.
Girl got on #10 bus going the wrong way. Driver flagged down bus coming in opp direction& they stopped in road so she could switch #mbtabragCaitlin
@mbtaGM the driver/announcer of the B line train w/ cab 3661B as the rear car right now is excellent. Need more like him. #mbtabrag #mbtaDan
Station agent let me through w/ an expired card bc it was 3 min off from still being valid. Nice start to Tuesday! #mbtabragJuliana
The next time the MBTA has a surprise for you, don't keep it all to yourself. Share it by tweeting using #MBTAannoy or #MBTAbrag.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Downtown on Twitter: @YTDowntown.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article