MBTA 2, Passengers 0

By | July 7, 2009

T_sucksMr. Houghton,

Being a glutton for punishment, and having no better option, my daughter and I set out this morning once again to take the T from Brighton Center to Walnut Street in Newton, changing buses in Newton Corner.

We were stationed at 400 Centre Street by 8:17, waiting for a 554 bus scheduled to stop there at 8:25.  Our arrival time at 400 Centre Street was consistent with the route suggested by the Trip Planner on your Web site.

Well, 8:25 came and went.  No bus.  Then 8:30 came and went, then 8:35, then 8:40.  At that point, we finally gave up and reverted to the plan B we’d created after yesterday’s fiasco — walking to the cab stand in front of the Crowne Plaza and taking a cab from there.

Alas, when we got there this morning, there were no cabs, even though there had been a long line of them at the same time yesterday.  I called the cab company, and they said we’d have to wait a half hour.  That was useless, so my daughter and I were forced to fall back on plan C — walking in the rain from Newton Corner to Walnut Street.

When we were about two thirds of the way there, a woman standing at the bus stop we had just passed yelled after us that there was a bus coming, and we were able to rush back and catch it.  If not for that kind woman’s help, my daughter would have been twenty minutes late to her ballet program rather than only ten.

We mentioned to the woman that we had been waiting for a 554, and she said she saw it go past her stop about a half hour earlier.  How odd!  I watched every single  bus go past 400 Centre Street from the time we arrived there until 8:40, and I don’t recall seeing a single 554.  Certainly, no 554 ever stopped to pick up passengers.  Perhaps she was mistaken?  If so, then the 554 we were supposed to take was at least a half hour late.

On the other hand, perhaps the driver didn’t bother to stop at 400 Centre Street?  Or perhaps he was in a hurry to end his shift and decided to blow through the route ten minutes ahead of schedule, without regard to all the passengers whom he would leave stranded?

When a bus runs every ten minutes, there’s no harm in letting one run a little ahead of schedule.  However, I hope you will agree that on a route with gaps of a half hour or more, not leaving the major stops significantly early is just as important as not leaving them late.  If not, then what good, exactly, are your schedules and your lovely interactive Trip Planner?  If it is, in fact, the T’s policy that buses on infrequent routes can leave transfer points that early, then don’t you think the Trip Planner should take that into account?

Or perhaps you guys think it’s just more fun to screw over your passengers?  The more I ride the T, the more it seems that way.

Looking forward to your newest excuses and rationalizations, I am,

Sincerely yours,

Jonathan Kamens

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