Every Bostonian – born and raised or recently transplanted – can unequivocally agree on this one thing, if nothing else: the T sucks.
The massive network of trains that moves us all from point A to point B has some strong points, true; it’s convenient (except when it isn’t), it reduces congestion in the city streets (just think how bad traffic would be without the T!) and it’s good for the environment (or at least better).
(Full disclosure: This editorial was written while traveling on the Worcester-Framingham line.)
But any rider, daily or casual, can recite a litany of complaints – the trains are frequently not on time; the schedule and routes make no sense to the uninitiated; the cars are old, smelly and overcrowded; and despite all this, rates keep going up.
The reaction to last winter’s extreme weather was telling and the outcomes unacceptable. Commuter rail trains were canceled without notice, stranding passengers on open-air platforms in negative temperatures. Trips that should have taken moments took hours. Hundreds of people waited for inbound trains that never came – or when they did, they were already full. Fully half of the Red Line trains were taken out of service. On several occasions the entire network completely shut down and the city was stranded.
Who suffers when the city shuts down? We all do, of course, but shutdowns disproportionately affect our service workers. The city’s office workers are generally able to remain productive from their home offices – and they’ll still get paid.
But the Dunks workers who are physically unable to get to their stores to serve coffee to all those missing office workers don’t get paid when they aren’t there. The waitstaff doesn’t get paid when they can’t work because the restaurants shut down when the customers can’t get to them. The cleaners, the cold-callers, the bakers, the painters and the baristas – the so often invisible and overlooked backbone of our city – all of them took financial hits this winter.
(The many dedicated employees of the MBTA and Keolis who did their best to keep the city moving this past winter – and every day – deserve our recognition and gratitude. They, too, are Bostonians, and we’re in this together.)
Faithful readers of these pages will be familiar with the T’s woes and wounds, historical and recent, as well as the work that is being done to heal it. We commend the governor for convening the advisory board and support the commitment to finding effective solutions for these problems.
The T’s situation is many years in the making and there are many reasons for it, but beyond all those reasons, excuses and questionable decisions, the fact remains: the T sucks. And that’s an unacceptable situation for a would-be world-class city. It’s an unacceptable situation for all of Boston’s residents and commuters, for the companies that employ them and the economy that together we all drive.
And winter is coming.