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Water, water everywhere on the MBTA, but none you'd want to drink

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  March 1, 2013 02:09 PM

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JFK-UMass Feb 2013.jpg

Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com

These commuters at the JFK/UMass stop on Thursday probably didn’t realize how lucky they were just to be dry.

Water, water everywhere on the MBTA, but none you'd want to drink

Storified by Jeremy C. Fox· Fri, Mar 01 2013 11:42:05

Each week, residents of Greater Boston post many new complaints on Twitter about aspects of the MBTA, but most of the problems fall into fairly familiar categories. People are frustrated by long waits and overcrowded trains and buses, by broken equipment and misleading information. 

But once in a while, some of those tweets will surprise you. Something unusual and unexpected will happen that makes a commuter really stop and think. For instance, when riders tweet complaints about rain falling inside three different stations on the Red Line: 
Happy Wednesday! It's raining inside Quincy Center Station! #condemned #MBTA #MBTAannoyRed Line Commuter
@mbtaGM @MBCR_info When is the leaking pipe at the Porter Square platform going to be fixed? It's a waterfall and it's dangerous. #MBTAannoyMelissa K.
Video: Raining inside Harvard station. @mbtaGM #redline #mbta #mbtaannoy http://yfrog.us/f5ycxcmlfsqyavnvqyflifeizSabrinaTheWiseLatina
Sure, the area saw quite a bit of rain on Wednesday, but was this a preventable situation? And what about the "waterfall" at Porter Square, apparently caused not by the rain but by a leaky pipe? 

What's even stranger is to have water running on bus on Monday, when it was sunny and pleasant outside:
The fact that it sounds like there is running water on this bus horrifies me. Only God knows what this is... #mbtaannoyTony M
What could the cause have been? It gives one pause.

Stopping to think is something that apparently lots of commuters are not doing as they sprawl across five subway seats, eating their barbecue ribs while trimming their toenails and conducting lengthy phone conversations with their younger sisters about how their partners may or may not be cheating on them. 

In short, a lot of MBTA passengers are just plain rude:
Girl just cut in front of me to get on train at park st so she can get a seat, only to get off at the next stop #MBTAannoyMBTA Traveler
Lookout-that's one very important garment bag on this crowded #OrangeLine train. Gonna ask for autograph. #MBTAannoy http://pic.twitter.com/IQoQgdQQlUJeremy C. Fox
The sign above this woman mentions how its courteous to not "squawk on the phone" yet she continues to talk on her cell. #MBTAannoy !B Money Babyy
Do yourself a favor & walk to the first stop after boarding the bus. It's obnoxious and you could use the exercise #MBTAannoy #lazyJohn Griffin
Yes people, the hand rails and poles are for you to hang on to on the train. You do not have magical balancing abilities. #mbtaannoyJennifer Busiek Webb
A man near me on this #OrangeLine train has a constant cough I can only describe as tubercular. Not his fault, but still #MBTAannoy.Jeremy C. Fox
Ah, nothing beats the symphony of snot snorting on a winter’s #OrangeLine morning commute. #MBTAannoy #buysometissuesMelinda
Yes, I did get off the train so people didn't have to squeeze past me. No, you cannot sneak in before I get back on. Kthx. #MBTAannoyKyle W. Kerr
No, really, keep your giant purse on your shoulder so it rests on my lap. I can't think of a better place for it. #MBTAannoyJeremy C. Fox
Guy watching me play bowling on my iPhone and then asking about it #MBTAstalker #MBTA #MBTAannoyRed Line Commuter
It's 5:42 am nobody cares that you had crown put in yesterday. Be quiet :) #MBTAannoy #MBTARed Line Commuter
Thanks for sitting right on top of me and for taking a bath in Dakar cologne this morning! #FML #MBTAannoy #MBTA #mbtaproblemsRed Line Commuter
Is it National Scream Into Your Phone On The Train Day? #MBTAannoyMelinda
With how many seats are opened you have to plop yourself down by me! Really?!?! #MBTAluck #MBTAannoy #MBTARed Line Commuter
That moment when the whole train car smells like Burger King because you just couldn't wait to devour a super sloppy Whopper! #MBTAannoyRed Line Commuter
Keep getting kicked by some MA DOT employee so he can stay close to door #mbtaannoyrev8056
Someone on the 9:40 lowell train is totally smoking pot. #mbtaannoycharlene mcbride
Of course none of the people standing want to sit your arm deserves its own seat. Just sit there smelling like an ashtray #mbtaannoyrev8056
Some people on the MBTA are just awful, and what makes it worse is that there are so many of them:
Red line is like a Tokyo subway car. That's what happens when trains run 10mins apart at rush hour. #mbtaannoyRyan Thomas
@mbtaGM @mbta #MBTAannoy this sea of people and trains already full by the time they get here is my daily torture http://pic.twitter.com/2cqbdroMttKNR
For those of you who had to commute with every college student ever this morning...http://bit.ly/ZxyFnk #mbtaannoy #mbtaAli Wisch
When a train loads and there are still as many if not more people on the platform #mbtaannoycharlene mcbride
And then there are the various giant contraptions they wheel onto the the already-crowded trains, taking up badly needed space:
Sorry but you can't fit more luggage or stroller utility vehicles on this train #mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
Rush hour on the Redline at Park Street and some drunk brings on his grocery carriage (full size) filled to the brim with crap! #MBTAannoyRed Line Commuter
your luggage deserves its own seat & just spread out over 2 more no one else deserves to sit I hope you are taking Fung Wah #mbtaannoyrev8056
The most dangerous contraptions, though, are often the cars that share Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street with the Green Line, and occasionally pull right into the trolleys' path at an intersection: 
Green Line trolley strikes car near Pleasant Street stop on B line http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/02/25/green-line-trolley-strikes-car-near-pleasant-street-stop-line/IvUtW0ASkJnxOt970V71CO/story.html via @BostonDotCom #MBTA #MBTAannoy?Jeremy C. Fox
At least some riders are capable of being sympathetic to their fellow commuters:
Poor #RedLine riders, with those weekends of shuttle buses ahead of you. We #OrangeLine riders can commiserate. #MBTAannoyMelinda
Some folks even go out of their way to try to make others' trips more pleasant: 
@universalhub #Samaritans at #ForestHillStation holding signs & handing out smiles. Good start to the morning, #Boston #MBTAbragAmanda GOTSOLE1981
A few bring charming companions along on their journeys: 
Cutest thing on the #OrangeLine this morning. #MBTAbrag http://pic.twitter.com/lrJcMuooucJeremy C. Fox
Some riders are talented at finding reasons to think positively: 
Happy Friday! I found a googley eye on my seat on the train it must be good luck! #MBTA #MBTAbragRed Line Commuter
I actually appreciate the rats in my #mbtabrag. As long as they don't disrupt my service, they provide something to stare at.Jules Wang
#thembtaruinedmylife | WHEN I TAKE THE T TO THE GROCERY STORE BY MYSELF http://bit.ly/13K1tcL #mbta #mbtabragAli Wisch
Early morning commute to the office, for some reason the busses and trains are packed but moving on time for once #MBTABRAGJess Indeed
And some are really surprisingly fortunate: 
JP ---> Somerville. 35 minutes on a Saturday. #mbtabragMBTA Rider
Well, a record 15-minute Red Line commute from North Quincy to Downtown. Even for an off-peak train, that's a miracle. #mbtabrag.Jules Wang
Those trips aren't the norm, though. For many bus riders, what's normal is a driver who makes them fear for their safety:
Where did this bus driver learn to drive? #mbtaannoyDarren Mackiewicz
@MBTA_vents #thembtaruinedmylife | WHEN MY BUS IS MAKING A REALLY SKETCHY TURN http://bit.ly/YDWffa #mbta #mbtaannoyAli Wisch
Then, occasionally, the employees and the passengers clash, and Jules here gets pulled into the drama:
#mbtaannoy What's worse, there's a conflict between a customer and a MBTA employee in the mezzanine. "Can you be my witness to this?"Jules Wang
And like PBS, the MBTA brings not only high drama, but great mysteries: 
Where is the 7:15 Franlkin Line? Marquee is just showing graphics of fireworks. #mbtaannoyJess Levens XLIV
And yet only one outbound Green Line train in ten minutes. Five inbound, though. #MBTAannoy #rain @ MBTA… http://instagr.am/p/WQEkDAq4fp/Whitney
Jess and Whitney weren't the only curious commuters. The tweeter known only as rev8056 had a lot of questions this week. A lot:
@mbtaGM why do you run Red Line trains in packs? It really sucks for your customers #mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
@mbta why does commuter rail get wifi & new cars while Red Line has 44 yo trains and cell service doesn't work? #mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
No there isn't another Braintree train right behind @mbtaGM why do your drivers lie when your customers know the truth? #mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
We are 1st train in pack of 6 @mbtaGM how do you think this is good service? #mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
@mbtaGM when are you going to start charging for all this luggage on Red Line During rush it takes up space of person #mbta #mbtaannoyrev8056
@mbtaGM what kind of data service do you have south of Park dial up? I know we are not worthy of wifi but come on #mbtaannoy #mbtarev8056
For other commuters, the issues were more mundane. 

Many times the problems were that a train was late, slow, or both, though those issues were often compounded by other factors:
No one goes south @ 4 right @mbtaGM? Guess you will never fix this so go north to go south #mbta #mbtaannoy http://pic.twitter.com/xyQhuRrhInrev8056
. @mbtagm if your train is going to be 30 min late, at least don't go 5mph, stop all the time and make extra stops. #mbtaannoy #ugghhhhJess Levens XLIV
The 16 gets later and later everyday, and then it gets overcrowded. #MBTAannoyB Money Babyy
@mbtagm the orange line needs to run more than once every ten minutes during rush hour. Downtown Xing to Oak Grove is PACKED. #mbtaannoyMichelle
The new normal. MT @mbtaGM: Red Line: Update: Significant delays btwn JFK/UMass & Alewife due to signal problem at Harvard. #mbta #mbtaannoySabrinaTheWiseLatina
Not true. Trains are running packed cannot get on it. RT @mbtaGM: Red Line: Update: Normal service has resumed. #mbta #mbtaannoySabrinaTheWiseLatina
The train has now idled at North Quincy for about 5 minutes (I assume it's the case for many other trains along the line. #mbtaannoyJules Wang
I wish I could hop on the 275. #mbtaannoyJules Wang
Was your commute predictably frustrating, or shockingly inconvenient? Either way, the #MBTAannoy hashtag is here to help you tell your story. And if it all goes smoothly, why not give the T credit for getting it right once in a while by posting a tweet with #MBTAbrag? 

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Downtown on Twitter: @YTDowntown.

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