Taxi a fast but costly trip in race against bicycle, subway

By Neena Satija
Globe Correspondent / July 29, 2011

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Note to taxicab-taking self: Factor in hailing time. As my two colleagues sped off toward the bike-share station and the Green Line, I had the advantage of being right on the street corner, with cabs constantly hurtling down Boylston Street. But it still took more than a minute to get into an actual moving vehicle. And given that I hailed it by lunging into the middle of the street as the signal turned green, I could have been hit by another car and really lost the race.

I finally had a cab to call my own, but I had already lost 90 seconds. When I asked how long it would take to get to TD Garden, I was relieved to hear an estimate of 15 minutes. Surely that would put me well ahead of my fellow racers in spite of my initial difficulties, I thought.

Until we started moving, when I made my second note to self: Driving in Boston is so . . . infuriatingly . . . slow.

I stared longingly out the window as pedestrians strolled past TD Bank, the former Borders store, and Filene’s Basement, while we rumbled along at a snail’s pace. After about three minutes, we finally turned left onto Berkeley Street. According to the meter, I was already out $3.80.

It was when I saw orange cones and a tractor ahead that I really thought all might be lost. As we inched by roadwork that stretched from Marlborough to Beacon streets, we missed a green light, twice. At least the T rider does not have to watch pedestrians stroll by cars as the meter runs, I seethed.

We headed through an entrance tunnel onto Storrow Drive, and I breathed a sigh of relief. No more traffic lights. No more construction (hopefully). And no more infuriating pedestrians. We sped happily along, as I contemplated my victory speech.

Despite hitting several more spots of balky traffic as we made our way down Storrow Drive over to Cambridge Street, we pulled up in front of the Bobby Orr statue in just under 13 minutes. But because I am perpetually challenged when it comes to swiping my credit card in those vexing machines, it took another two minutes to get out the door.

Still, I glanced around with satisfaction as I realized my opponents were nowhere to be seen. The four minutes I had to bask in glory before the arrival of the second-place finisher was definitely worth $10.20 (not including tip).

Neena Satija can be reached at

Man vs. Machine

As Boston's bike-sharing program gets underway, three travelers sought to see how it fits into the city's transit web. From the Public Library in Copley Square, they set out on bicycle, Green Line subway, and taxi in a race to the TD Garden.