It never ceases to amaze me that the folks who run the MBTA can’t seem to handle the simplest aspects of running a working public transit system. Over and over again, I’ve found myself complaining to them about things that just shouldn’t come up, because they should just be handled properly to begin with.
My wife recently took a three-day trip to New York City with our daughters, and she spent a day touring the city with the girls on foot and by public transportation. She said that every “Walk” signal worked (not so in Boston!), drivers actually stopped for pedestrians (not so in Boston!), the subway signs were clear and accurate (!), the fare collection system didn’t have people lined up waiting to board the buses (!), all stops were announced (!), and every time she asked a transit worker, other city employee or even a stranger on the street for advice, they were helpful and knew the information she needed (!!).
Everything about Boston is smaller than New York City. One would think that it would be rather easier to run Boston to the same standards as New York City. So why is Boston instead run like a dump?
In any case, here’s the complaint, which I just sent to the MBTA, which prompted the rant above:
The other night, I was riding the B Line outbound, intending to disembark at a stop I rarely use and with which I am unfamiliar, Sutherland Street.
I noticed when boarding the train that it was making its automated stop announcements, both audibly and on the LED displays, so settled down to get some work done on my laptop while lending half an ear to the announcements so that I would not miss my stop.
A bit later, I realized with a jolt that at least one stop had gone by with no visible or audible announcement being made. I rushed to the front of the train as it pulled up to the next stop and said, “Is this Sutherland Street?”
Driver: “No, this is Chiswick. The last stop was Sutherland Street.”
Me: “Why didn’t the train announce Sutherland?”
Driver: “It never does.”
There are at least two things wrong here.
First of all, obviously, the automated stop announcements should be working.
Second, your driver was apparently unaware that the driver is obligated by Federal law to announce all stops, and thus that if the automated stop announcements aren’t working, the driver is obligated by Federal law to announce all stops herself.
Some stop announcements is rather worse than no stop announcements. If there weren’t any announcements,I would have been paying attention to every stop, and I wouldn’t have missed mine. Luring people into a false sense of security by announcing some of the stops and then just stopping is unacceptable.
Interestingly, the same thing happened to my wife earlier the same day when she was traveling to exactly the same stop. Worse than that, before boarding the train at Park Street, she checked a B Line map there to confirm which stop she should disembark at, and the map she reviewed didn’t even have Sutherland Street on it; it showed Mount Hood. It seems to me that the maps in Park Street should reflect the actual stops the trains are making.