Monday, December 04, 2006

Charlie May Be Here, But He's Unwelcome

I hate the MBTA. Like, a lot. When I moved here six years ago, I loved the T. The clickty-clack of the trains, the unbelievable people-watching, the systematic, no-traffic way to get around. All that for the low low price of eighty-five cents. Now, a mere six years later, we're on the threshold of paying $2.00 a ride, or $1.70 with the CharlieCard. I don't quite understand the new fare system-- the T's website is not very helpful since it's an overwhelming amount of text with very little information. All I know is it's going to cost me forty-five cents a pop more to ride the T and will cost me three bucks more (roundtrip) to go home to Rhode Island.

From what little information I've heard on this subject, what's going to happen is I'm going to need to find someplace that has CharlieCards, not the CharlieTickets I've been buying $10 at a time and running down during my blessedly infrequent jaunts on the train. The MBTA has posted a schedule of dates they'll have smiling, happy, well-informed representatives (ahem) handing out the plastic conduits of the thirty-cent discount, but the small-print "Schedule subject to change without notice" isn't very assuring.

There's also the matter of the subway pass going the way of the Edsel, and in its place is the "Monthly LinkPass" which combines both bus and subway privileges. While that sounds great, many people I know who ride the subway never ride the bus. Ever. Since I moved out of Brighton Center, I take the bus maybe once or twice a year. The bus is unreliable (as evidenced by the time my hungover ass spent over an hour waiting for the 1 bus to take me to the South End for brunch) and much more affected by the weather than the T is. (Though I did hear that the Green Line was a disaster this morning with that heavy snowfall we got.) So this LinkPass (I will never forgive Apple for the burring together of words to sound hip and futuristic-- it works with iPod and iTunes, but doing it with LinkPass is just stupid) forces T riders to pay for a service they may never use.

I babysat yesterday afternoon, and I was talking with the kids' mother about the T fares going up and perhaps moving well outside the city would be a good investment since all the fares will be universal, even all the way out to Quincy. The kids listened, and we walked to the Green Line to wait for the train to take us one stop to the grocery store. We waited for the train for about seven minutes while even the under ten crowd complained about the T fares. Then, when a train finally came, the driver pleasantly (ahem) informed us that the train was going express to Cleveland Circle.

"You stupid train!" the eldest said as the doors slammed shut in her face. "We may as well just walk."

The baby got upset because she saw her best friend waving to her from the inside of the train. "Hi! HI! Amy, I want to see Adam."

"Adam's going to Cleveland Circle, honey," I said as the train pulled away and the baby looked confused.

"Let's just walk. I hate the stupid train." The eldest snitted.

Last night the rats and I settled in and watched An Inconvenient Truth. (As an aside-- can I just say how fucking angry I was that Al Gore was not that engaging, entertaining, informative, honest, and human during the 2000 election?) Fucking frightening movie, that. You see glaciers melting like a Slurpee in the sun, and how we are actively destroying our planet and not really concerned by it. Public transportation that is efficient, relatively inexpensive, and reliable is a great way to reduce our carbon dioxide output. But with the T jacking up fares on service so crappy even an eight-year-old gets fed up with it, people who are on the fence about driving into Boston versus taking the T are going to change their mind and start driving themselves in. Maybe the T will suddenly provide service we'll all love. The Green Line will run on schedule and people won't freeze their asses off when it snows an eighth of an inch and they have to wait for half an hour for a train. Maybe we can even dare to dream of service that runs until the wee hours of the morning for those of us who like to go out on Fridays and not shell out $30 for a cab ride home. But, as it stands now, I'm going to invest the money I'd spend on taking the T and buying a nice bike.

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