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On the MBTA, it's the luck of the draw

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  January 18, 2013 05:44 PM

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Downtown Crossing Crowd 1-18-2013.jpg

Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com

It was no one’s lucky day on the southbound Red Line platform at Downtown Crossing on Friday afternoon.

On the MBTA, it's the luck of the draw

Storified by Jeremy C. Fox· Fri, Jan 18 2013 15:04:15

Many aspects of life are unpredictable. It can be hard to know whether your boss will give you that promotion or the attractive person at the bar will want your number or if it's safe to drink that milk that's two days past its expiration. 

But for many in Greater Boston, the MBTA is among life's biggest mysteries. You leave home at the exact same time every day, yet one day that means you miss a train by seconds, the next you're waiting 15 minutes, and the third you get there just as it pulls in. 

Sometimes luck is with you, as in the first couple of #MBTAbrag tweets below:
This is why I perfer to commute early in the AM rather than the 8:00am rush. It's so quiet and peaceful and everyone is smiling #MBTABragJess Indeed
That moment when you walk out of class and the 39 is right there. #MBTAbragChristopher
An early departure can make all the difference in your commute, but not always, and sometimes the bus is there right when you need it, for no particular reason. 

Those situations, any T rider can tell you, are more the exception than the rule. Often riders face long waits for the train, as in these next few tweets: 
Think of the bright side!! #toobadthereisntone “@cfaulk75: Dear @MBTAprobs: IT IS RUSH HOUR!!! Wtf!! #MBTAannoy http://lockerz.com/s/275480994”MBTA Problems
I've been stuck here waiting for an inbound train to first classes for awhile now. I think I'm going to have to be late. #mbtaannoyJules Wang
The red line is late. No alerts. Nothing. @mbta_alerts @mbtaGM #MBTAannoy #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
Was hoping to catch an early train but apparently the orange line is only running every 10 minutes during rush hour. #mbtaannoyMichelle Clements
And whether your wait is long or short, once you board that train, you'll often find it's moving at a pace that's only cute for tree sloths. 
. @mbtaGM Red line southbound extremely slow. It took 20 minutes from Harvard to MGH. Argh. #MBTAannoy #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
Signal problems on the #mbta so it takes 10 minutes to go from Kenmore to St Mary's. Seriously?! #mbtaannoyMcKenzie Lawton
Crawling into JFK & train before is in Braintree Must be switch problem AGAIN #mbtaannoyrev8056
But even the worst weeks can have a few nice moments, just by chance. For instance, setting aside her earlier tweets about the Red Line being both late and slow, regular contributor Sabrina actually had at least one positive experience this past week: 
The red line is on time and I got a seat. Pinch me! @mbtaGM #mbtabrag #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
And so did a certain Your Town correspondent: 
#OrangeLine 15 minutes from Green Street to Downtown Crossing. I'm amazed. #MBTAbragJeremy C. Fox
But again, those are more the exception than the rule. Just look at these next few folks and their frustration over stopped trains:
B line just sitting at Harvard Ave at 6:30 on a Friday evening. #thisIsWhyIWalk #mbtaannoyArchivingAloud
All the trains are on standby today, so annoyed! #Boston #mbtaannoyAmanda Gaughan
On a c train and a baby Is wailing plus I have a hangover #mbtaannoyAmanda Gaughan
Guy stuck in the 80s is yelling @ the driver because he thinks he has already been "pushed to the end of the car enough" #mbtaannoyAmanda Gaughan
Once again the Commuter Rail 038 is broken down at Kingston. #MBTAannoy #MCBR_info #MBTARob Molla
And Jules' consternation over a train randomly being disassembled. 
I'm confused as to why a two-car Green Line trolley was decoupled just now at Park? Apparently, one car is B Line. #mbtaannoy?Jules Wang
Kyle was #MBTAannoyed by a train whose route was cut short:
Some of my least favorite words to hear on my morning commute: "Park Street will be the last stop..." #MBTAannoyKyle W. Kerr
While Dawn wasn't too happy to see her train sloooowly reversing:
Why does it take 10 minutes to back a train up 4 feet? God, I love the MBTA! #sarcasm #MBTAannoyDawne Thorne
William was amazed to find a train appearing as if by magic:
How is there a #redline train ahead of us at #Ashmont? I had to wait 10 minutes for a train at downtownxing. #mbtaannoyWilliam Holbrook
Benjamin and Cary were mystified by the seeming imbalance between trains that should be more or less evenly spaced: 
4 inbound trains come by and no outbound trains come on the Red Line equals annoying and frustrating. #MBTAannoyBenjamin Chan
Jesus. Mary. & Joseph, as well as myself are wondering why there were 3 C Trains in a row at N.Station--super curious! @mbtaGM #MBTAannoyCarey Mercier
And Amanda found frustration before she even made it to her train, because of equipment malfunctions: 
For the second day in a row, most of the fare gates at #ForestHills #Station are out if service. Ugh! #MBTAannoy @mbta @mbta_alertsAmanda GOTSOLE1981
So the trains -- and buses -- provide no shortage of frustrations, but what about the other riders, who often raise questions of just what range of behaviors can be considered normal:
No, it's totally normal to ride your bike through a train station #backbay #mbtaannoy http://pic.twitter.com/uplZzrvxShannon
So riding your bike in the station is really pretty unusual, but what about wearing fringed leather jackets in 2013? Who's doing that? Grizzly Adams? 
Just got slapped in the face with someone fringe from their leather jacket #mbtaannoyIts a me Amanda
And who's still using steroids, knowing all the health risks? 
Maybe you should lay off the steroids and you could fit in a seat without crushing everyone around you #mbtaannoyrev8056
Why are extinct mammals taking over the T?
Balanced on the edge of my seat trying to give woman next me room after some woolly mammoth crammed into seat next to her #mbtaannoyrev8056
And who wants to publicly discuss gastrointestinal distress? 
Lower your voice...I really didn't need to know you've been out sick with a bout of diarrhea! Ugh. #MBTAannoyRed Line Commuter
At least Teesh had a bit of luck and found a fellow passenger who was impressive enough to #MBTAbrag about: 
I just saw a chick on the Orange Line with 2 in. long eyelashes. No lie. #mbtabragTeesh
The next three tweeters found it wasn't the passengers but their bus drivers or train conductors who were total jerks:
Hey, bus driver, how about not being a total jerk because your fare box is out of whack and needs special treatment today? #MBTAannoyaly murray
Dear Lechemere Driver who's approach was so slow into N.Station--molasses could even out-flow u, I missed my train by 30 sec thnx #MBTAannoyCarey Mercier
Twice this week the same bus driver with what I would call "adequate" space blew by me on the route 66 bus. #MBTAannoyThomas Manz
Then there is this next conductor, who may someday hear that classic cry of recrimination, "I learned it from watching you!"
This 12 year old is being straight up racist on the t and her mom.. Who is driving the train.. Is laughing . #mbtaannoyShannon
But several riders this week found conductors, drivers, and other MBTA staff who were entirely commendable: 
Orange line conductor keeping it positive during rush hour "I like the teamwork everyone" @MBTA #mbtabragWilliam Holbrook
#MBTABrag "@Beantown_Eats: Whadda ya know. T driver saw me running, waited and opened door for me to board. Thank you @mbtaGM"Boston's Best Bars
Just saw a medical emergency on #mbta green line for 3rd or 4th time ever and EVERY time they've been expertly handled by T staff. #mbtabragMichael J. Nichols
#MBTAbrag my B Line driver Karen is a wicked sweetheart. Enjoyed my morning commute & conversation. http://pic.twitter.com/gQHbEOQ1CoachKevinAKrueger
#mbtabrag my bus driver this morning handled an irrationally irate passenger incredibly professionally. You go girl. @mbtaDanielle VFitzgerald
Thanks to 39 bus driver who saw me running towards bus pushing a stroller and stopped and waited. #mbtabrag #mbtaLiam Sullivan
Liam didn't just have a positive experience with his bus driver; he and Willaim both had some nice words for the musicians who perform for commuters downtown: 
I'm also appreciating the fiddlers busking at Downtown Crossing. #mbta #mbtabragLiam Sullivan
Harp player at downtown xing is keeping the vibe relaxed for a Friday rush hour. #MBTA #mbtabrag #gratefulWilliam Holbrook
And though Kristen experience some excessive heat ...
Glad I brought a water today since its 110 degrees on the T. #mbtaannoyKristen
And Anna encountered an unpleasant aroma ...
My bus smells like dog feet. #MBTAannoyAnna Graham
At least Rev8056 got the occasional breath of fresh air.
It's wonderful when the train doors open let CO2 out & O2 in #mbtaannoy #mbtarev8056
Was your week on the MBTA like winning the lottery, or was it more of a booby prize? Don't forget to tweet about your good fortune using #MBTAbrag, and there's also #MBTAannoy for when the dice roll snake eyes. 

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Downtown on Twitter: @YTDowntown.

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