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The MBTA: Guilty as charged?

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  March 29, 2013 02:44 PM

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Oak Grove train 3 - 13.jpg

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This Orange Line train was declared on guilty on grounds of showing up on schedule.

The MBTA is guilty as charged

Storified by Jeremy C. Fox· Fri, Mar 29 2013 11:58:24

You can say pretty much anything you want about the MBTA, and it's probably true. 

(If you couldn't say whatever you wanted about the MBTA, this page wouldn't exist.)

Is it a problem-plagued system that strands people underground for hours at a time in cramped quarters with surly fellow passengers? Absolutely -- sometimes. 

Is it a miraculous conveyance that arrives just when you need it and swiftly ferries you to your destination? Without a doubt ... but not nearly as often as most riders would like. 

Make any assessment, level any accusation, and the MBTA is probably guilty as charged. Take this tweet from Mabel, for instance: 
Every time I have to do something important the MBTA is a mess #mbtaannoymabel (´ω`)ノ*・°.。
Do you ever get the feeling the MBTA is least cooperative when you most need it to be? 

If you use the system regularly, you've probably thought that before, perhaps during a long wait for the bus to arrive, like those described by B Money Babyy and Jess Indeed: 
Bus was supposed to be at the stop at 9:48 and it just now getting here #MBTAannoy .B Money Babyy
I'm tired of the 6:07 #16 playing games #MBTAannoy . Then it rolls past everyone to try to make time up?!B Money Babyy
Today was possibly the worse day on the T, Waited over 30 min for a bus on Morton St. Then Trains were packed #MBTAAnnoyJess Indeed
But then the bus or the train does arrive, you step on, it moves down one stop, or two, or three and then ...
Northbound Braintree train parked at JFK for a while now. It's rush hour #mbta I got to get to work! @mbtaGM #mbtaannoySabrinaTheWiseLatina
I could have walked to North Station quicker. Feeling marooned at Park Street. #MBTAannoy #greenlineSean Smyth
Sometimes a long wait is imposed by an incosiderate driver, as in Julie's case:
Typical green line: near-empty platform, I run to catch the train, conductor closes the door in my face. #MBTAannoyJulie
Or sometimes, as with Haven and few thousand other people on the far side of East Boston, the T shuts down your stop and you have a seven-month wait: 
Great. Shut down the Orient Heights station for 7 months and make me take a shuttlebus to a station even farther away from work. #MBTAannoyHaven Orecchio
But once in a while, the T is exonerated by its good timing, as Marissa and Rachel described: 
Is this b line train really going to lechemere right now?? Miracles do happen! #mbtabragMarissa Breton
CT2 bus came on time! Its a Good Friday miracle! #MBTAbragRachel Heaton (Ryan)
Sometimes the train even smells nice:
Wow. My red line car smells like Irish Springs soap. No seriously. It's amazing. #mbtabrag #onceinalifetime #usuallysmellslikepees.w.p.
Those #MBTAbrags provide good character witnesses, but Christopher and Kyle object to point out that they don't tell the whole story, and too often, the MBTA doesn't tell it either: 
Come on #mbta, at least have the decency to ANNOUNCE we're standing by. #MBTAannoyChristopher
Announcer just said they're moving B line starting point to Park Street... Permanently? Or just today? #wtf @mbtaGM @universalhub #MBTAannoyKyle W. Kerr
In Melinda's case, the message was clear but unpleasant: 
Nice #MBTA employee at Oak Grove shouting at a passenger calling him a ‘scumbag and a loser’ this morning. Very professional. #MBTAannoyMelinda
At least one conductor went the extra mile to make the rush hour commute more pleasant. Testify, Jules: 
The on-board announcement system could've done it. But kudos to the Green Line conductor on my train for saying good morning. #mbtabragJules Wang
Of course, that conductor may have given the greeting a personal touch because the PA system was broken. Jules also bore witness to some technical breakdowns this week, as did Alli and Charlene: 
Treat electrical problems with nonchalance. That's how we roll on this blinky Red Line train. #mbtaannoyJules Wang
@lifeonthembta @mbta_alerts The arrival countdown signs on the red and orange lines were off this morningAlli Knothe
@knothea Ugh. Broken countdown signs is an #MBTAannoy.Life on the MBTA
Hmmm, train making weird sounds. I'm predicting a #mbtafail #mbtaannoycharlene mcbride
Sometimes the issue is not a technical breakdown but a breakdown of civil society, often one caused by overcrowding: 
I forgot that apparently nobody rides the #greenline on Saturdays. #mbta #MBTAannoy #onecartrain #sardinesChristopher
"If we try to fit anyone else on this train I'm gonna have to buy this girl dinner." #overheardontheT #mbtaannoyMarissa Breton
Why do these idiots going to S Boston cram onto packed Braintree train when empty Ashmont is seconds behind #mbtaannoyrev8056
But some groups annoy their fellow riders more than others, Farida and Cassandra argued:
Who would honestly bring a classroom of high school students to take the T to downtown during rush hour? #MBTAannoyFarida Waquar
That moment you sit next to a group of annoying drunk girlfriends & realize there's nowhere else to sit. #eyeroll #wahwah #MbtaAnnoyCassandra Aviles
A gaggle of young folks can also entertain their neighbors, Christopher said:
Listening to the best debate about straws between 7 college girls on the #blueline. Commute, redeemed. #mbta #MBTAbragChristopher
Sometimes one's fellow riders are simply guilty of bad behavior: 
There would be someone singing on the 9 at this hour... #MBTAannoy #MBTAwtfTony M
After tonight's green line ride, I'm confident that chivalry is dead but the Barney app for iPad is very much alive. #mbtaannoyMelissa
the guy on the t yelling at everyone to get off... #wtf #MBTAannoyKyla McCabe-Corrow
About 15 people are totally about to get kicked out of the 1st car which was clearly closed off to passengers #nolights #mbtaannoycharlene mcbride
There's a lower circle of hell reserved for people who put their bag on the seat on a packed rush hour train. #mbtaannoySara F.
Other riders are simply guilty of bad fashion decisions:
Dear young dude on my train- you're supposed to take that fabric Calvin Klein tag OFF your wool coat after you buy it. #duh #mbtaannoySara F.
Dear man on the train with a rat tail, it's 2013. #rattail #2013 #mbtabragCarol Flanigan
But there is also evidence of amazing fashion choices on the T, as seen in these tweets, all posted by one rider (ahem) in a single day: 
I applaud the courage of anyone who would wear these pants on the #OrangeLine. #MBTAbrag <a href="" class=""></a>Jeremy C. Fox
@M_Karimjee @kyleykim #OrangeLine is full of characters, but #RedLine has this latter-day Amy Winehouse. #MBTAbrag <a href="" class=""></a>Jeremy C. Fox
She was always my favorite member of the X-Men. (Except for Storm when she had a Mohawk.) #MBTAbrag <a href="" class=""></a>Jeremy C. Fox
I once again find myself on an #OrangeLine train with crazy-leggings-man from earlier today. Is this fate? #MBTAbrag <a href="" class=""></a>Jeremy C. Fox
And there's this rider, whose outfit is ordinary but who clearly knows how to accessorize:
I'm a cute #bulldog riding the #blueline #mbtabrag #hipsterdog <a href="" class=""></a>hayes morrison
Some of your fellow riders, though, may actually be guilty of crimes:
Im a victim of Apple Picking #MBTAannoy #phonelessRachel Heaton (Ryan)
At least it looks like Rachel is talking about pick-pocketing. Right? 

That's the kind of tweet that should also go to the @MBTATransitPD, but you may help alert some fellow riders by using #MBTAannoy. And if someone should return your lost phone or wallet, or heck, if they just don't steal them, you could always #MBTAbrag about it. 

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

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