It’s hard to catch the bus when the MBTA tells you to wait in the wrong place!

By | July 9, 2009

T_sucksTo: [email protected]

Mr. Houghton,

Thanks to a helpful bus driver this morning (the driver of the inbound 554 bus that passed through Newton Corner at around 8:20), my daughter and I finally found out the real explanation for why we missed the 554 bus from Newton Corner to Newtonville on Monday and Tuesday of this week. It wasn’t because of delays caused by the broken railroad crossing gate in Waltham on Monday, and it wasn’t because the bus went through Newton Corner early on Tuesday.

No, it was because the outbound 554 bus doesn’t actually stop at 400 Centre Street, which is where the Trip Planner on the MBTA Web site told us to wait for it.

The aforementioned helpful driver stopped at 400 Centre Street to let off passengers. After two days of missed buses I was all through making assumptions, so my daughter and I hustled over to the bus, despite the fact that its route sign said “downtown” and it had stopped at the point where passengers are typically let off but not picked up. The driver saw us hurrying over to the bus and was kind enough to wait for us.

When we got there, I asked if he was going to Newton, and he said no, he was going downtown. He then informed me that if I wanted the 554 to Newton, I had to be on the other side of Newton Corner. I told him the MBTA Web site had told me to wait at 400 Centre Street and asked if he was sure the outbound 554 didn’t stop there. He said he’d been driving MBTA buses for 22 years, and as far as he knew, the outbound 554 had never stopped at 400 Centre Street.

Your Trip Planner told my daughter and me to wait at 400 Centre Street (and, by the way, 554 isn’t the only route with this problem — I believe 556 has it, and I bet there are others as well). There’s a route sign posted at 400 Centre Street claiming that the 554 to Waverly stops there. These are real problems. Are you going to fix them?

I’ve written to you twice about this problem, and you haven’t given me courtesy of any reply at all, let alone letting me know that we were waiting in the wrong place. Why is that?

Jonathan Kamens

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3 thoughts on “It’s hard to catch the bus when the MBTA tells you to wait in the wrong place!

  1. Em in Maine

    I’ve spent over an hour trying to plan a route for a seminar I want to attend next Tuesday and the planner won’t let me pick a street that is clearly on the 554 route map. It wants to drop me at the Waltham station over a mile away.

    The planner definitely needs work.

    Reply
  2. jik Post author

    I’d be interested in seeing the start and end addresses you were giving the Trip Planner which caused it to arrive at that “interesting” result.

    Personally, I’ve found the Planner useful for the routes for which it has correct data. But it’s simply unacceptable for the Planner to have data in it that’s simply wrong, let alone for it to have the same wrong data for over six years even after the problem was brought to the T’s attention.

    Reply
  3. Juggling Frogs

    The MBTA Trip Planner is worse than useless. When helping my son plan his commute to his summer job, we consulted it for how to get to the Woburn Mall (which is within easy walking distance of his office.) The Planner indicated he should take two T trains to a bus to the Burlington Mall, and then walk over to the Woburn Mall, as the Burlington Mall was a 7 minute WALK from the Woburn Mall.

    It’s over 5 miles between the two “as the crow flies” from the closest edges of one to another. I couldn’t drive between the two in 10 minutes on a traffic-free day.

    Reply

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