Saturday, January 23, 2010

True Tales of the MBTA

Brother is on 86, trying to transfer onto 66. Upon the 86's arrival at Dawes Island, 66 immediately pulls away, stranding all transfer passengers.

I board 66 at next stop. 86 pulls up behind. I ask driver if he minds waiting for passengers from the 86. NO, he says. DIS EEZ NOT A CAB. He speeds off, leaving the 86 behind.

Brother tells 86 driver he is trying to get on 66. 86 driver cuts off 66 in Brighton, allowing brother to transfer at Western Ave.

Fuck you, 66 driver! I see you every Saturday, and you NEVER say good morning back to me. Now I know for sure that you're an actual piece of human garbage.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

The DJ on WERS just said:

"Silver Line airport service is experiencing 10-15 minute delays due to traffic."

So, we have a transit line from downtown to the airport that takes 30+ to go two miles. Add another 10+ minutes if you're going to Terminal C or E, because the bus takes that long to board clueless tourists at the first two terminals, and you could have a 40-minute trip to the airport from downtown.

Massport executives, who must surely commute to work using the Silver Line, continue to assure us that "it takes 10 minutes to go from South Station on the Silver Line to any terminal at Logan."

Not only is that a physical impossibility, but it's hopelessly out of touch. I use the Silver Line whenever I can, and I can testify that its most ironic attribute is that it works at any time except rush hour.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

This morning, I will smash into the door-blockers at the Harvard T Station with a renewed zeal.

I'm psyched because INFRASTRUCTURE just confirmed its next show, and it's at a time that should work for nearly everyone. We'll be playing at Harper's Ferry, the venerable Boston music club, at 8:30 p.m. on Tues, Oct. 13, the Tuesday after Columbus Day. We get to perform our tunes on the same stage that's been graced by Maceo Parker, B. B. King, and every one-hit wonder of the 90s.

This is awesome! We're on a mission to deliver the greatest soul-punk-blues-rock show we can, and we will.

This morning, when I attempt get off the T at Harvard on my way to the 66 bus and our studio in Allston, I know what I'll find. Dozens of tourists and assorted ignorami will be standing in front of the train doors, deliberately not looking at the people attempting to get off the train. Today, I will smash into them not with rage but with elation, as my guitar, my equipment bag, and I literally clear a path for the show to go on.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Dear MBTA,

You might like to know that the electric heat in the Davis Square Station men's room is still on from last winter. I know that winter ended just three weeks ago, but considering the 8 billion dollars in debt you face, you might like to save some electricity. We appreciate having a safe and legal place to pee when we get off the last train of the night, but this situation reeks of waste. In fact, it reeks like an underground piss sauna on a summer night. Please turn the heat off.

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Monday, March 30, 2009


On the new MBTA schedule, service from Sullivan to Davis has completely replaced service from Sullivan to Clarendon. This now makes it impossible for my brother and I to get home from each others' apartments at night. Walking to/from Davis adds 10 minutes to the trip. What a pain in the ass.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Where Bus Stop Signs Come From

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Go Back to the Suburbs and Die."

You can always tell which Red Line customers are going to go all the way to Alewife, get in their cars, and drive to their suburban fortresses. They carry trinkets and souvenirs from the most vacant and touristic attractions in Boston--Red Sox and Celtics paraphernalia, Loews Boston Common movie theater cups, tourist t-shirts, etc. As if the city were one giant mall whose homogeneity was just a T fare away (plus Alewife parking fee).

Last weekend I was in a bar in Quincy* when a secretary from the suburb of Abington, wherever that may be, tried to hit on me (or otherwise talked to me for some reason). She asked me where I lived. "Oh," she said. "There's some nice parts in Somerville, I guess." Like you would fucking know. For all these people, the city is the place they drive through or take the T under on their way to their own personal disneyland.

The suburban townies are all terrified of the city. They stick to the safest bets and pray that they don't get robbed on the T. When I see these people clutching their pathetic souvenirs, blocking the doors when they're on the train, and not letting people off the train while they're waiting to board, I think about robbing them.

The suburbanites remind me of the hollow, rich losers I went to Tufts with. Back then, a night out in Boston meant going to the Galleria, because going to a mall was all anyone knew how to do. I hate this culture of the suburbs, where everyone is above average and no one tries to do anything new. A land of people with eyes but no vision, people with big backyards but no curiosity, people with educations but no thirst for knowledge, a culture of lazy fucking idiots whose ignorance remains blissfully unchallenged.
The post title, one of the most memorable quotations that I've ever overheard, was uttered at a grindcore concert at a Providence loft called The Sickle in the spring of 2003.

*Note, 1/26. I was at the birthday party of a friend who lives in Quincy. I don't actually hang out there.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Last Red Line Train inbound from Quincy

This is what my brain looked like around 1am.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ABBQ #71: Austin Western Railroad Switching Fuqua Limestone, Elgin, Tex.

I like this.

Don't forget: we still have about 150 or so Upper Peninsula images that I promised to blog.

P.S. Dan and I keep adding DEEP SOUTH placemarkers to the map in the post below and every time you refresh this page, you'll see the new ones.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Strippers on Adderall

"Excuse me, are you from this area?" she shouted somewhere between Harvard and Porter. "Is this Somerville?"

One of the benefits of 'working from home' in a small apartment is that you have to go out every night to preserve your sanity. And most nights end with a story.

Last night, on my way back from JP, I was accosted by a messed-up, heavily made-up girl of 25 who claimed she was on her way to an interview to be a bartender. "Do I look like a stripper?" she kept asking. One of her beauty school classmates had told her she looked like a stripper after class.

"No, but you could be," I said. She found me charming. She wasn't just a cosmetology student. She was actually a model and actress, who had worked in Las Vegas. She followed me out of train and through the station.

"Are there any bars I could apply to tonight?" she asked. It was clear that she had never been to Davis, Porter, or Harvard before. She had never heard of Central.

"It's easier to make money in a dive," she told me. "Less competition and you don't have to suck or snort."

When she got to Davis, she couldn't find the guy she was supposed to meet. "This guy is a stalker...I'm afraid he can see me but I can't see him." I tried to get away.

"Do you know what Adderall is?" she asked. "I just snorted one on the train...I would totally share with you but I'm all out." She unzipped her coat to reveal tremendous breasts filling out a tiny, black tank top. "Now I look like a stripper," she said. I nodded.

The guy called and told her to meet him by the big Christmas tree in the square.

"Come with me. I'll tell him I know you. You're my classmate, okay?"

I told her I had to go meet someone at Johnny D's.

"Okay, I'll come see you in there later. Let's have a drink, Rob. Where do I know you from?"

I got the hell out of there.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

MBTA Trip Planner not working again

What the F?


Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Most Fucked Up Night of My Life

It is 4:42 a.m. I am here at SOLOPAD with Dan M. and Jason W. We spent 2 hours at some random girls' house, making pasta. It didn't go so well.

On the way back from Porter to Teele, saw this accident scene, guarded by State Police, which probably means that people died. Will update in the morning with fatality tally.

As we approached Teele, at 4:37 a.m., I made a comment to my people that the mythical and mysterious 89/93 bus would be coming at any moment. Sure enough, it did. Recall that this is a bizarre bus that is not on the MBTA schedule and purports to run from Clarendon Hill to Sullivan to Downtown Boston. We flagged down the driver and interrogated him.

This was, in fact, my first time seeing the 89/93 *not* from my apartment, but on foot. "Where are you guys trying to go," asked the driver, a full hour before the actual MBTA schedule would start. "We can take you anywhere you want to go." I pointed out that the 89/93 does not exist on any schedule, but seems to run every night. "They only have me doing this on Saturdays," said the driver, and piloted his empty and unknown bus into the night.

Dan snapped this photo of us talking to the 89/93 driver on his cell phone...

And that is that.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The 89/93

Sometimes, when I stay up really late, I see the 89/93. The 89/93 is a bus that doesn't make any sense.

The 89 is a bus that runs from Clarendon Hill, Somerville to Sullivan Square, Boston. The 93 is a bus that runs from Sullivan Square to Downtown Boston. Both of these buses start running around 5:20 a.m.

Once in a while I have a weekend visitor and we are sitting here in Teele Square, drunk off our asses, at around 4:20am. We will see an OUT OF SERVICE bus heading down Broadway eastbound, then returning westbound with 89/93 on its route indicators. This bus exists on no public MBTA schedule, and it rolls through Teele Square an hour before either the 89 or the 93 start running.

Sometimes, I am sitting here riffling through photos I want to post or working on song lyrics at, you know, 1 or 2 am. It is always under these circumstances that I remember the few times I saw this 89/93. Does it really exist, and, if so, what purpose does it serve...especially if no one knows about it? Should I stay up and see if it returns? Going to bed seems like conceding all types of defeat.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Harpsichord Terrorist on the T

The Globe reports that a baseless tip about potential terrorists riding the Red Line and talking about drugs and airplanes caused a shutdown of the Red Line and combined Transit Police/State Police manhunt for the offending harpsichordist.

Overkill as usual.

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Friday, March 07, 2008


The T is continually bankrupt because it is funded by part of Massachusetts's dwindling sales tax receipts. This press release details the issues facing the agency. A world-class city deserves better funding and better service.

By the way, drivers: I'd like you to subsidize the public transit I use. I'm sick of funding roads I choose not to drive on.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Last or Second to Last Red Line

Three out of four consecutive nights.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hats off to the MBTA.

I've now been carless for over a year, and the improvements I've seen as a casual T rider continue to impress me. With many kinks gone, the automated fare collection system seems a success. The new New Flyer buses are a joy to ride. The T police have been making excellent use of the news media to deter "quality of ride" crimes like these. There are new, easy-to-read neighborhood and bus maps in every station I use. New ads in subway cars and buses explain how to take advantage of these improvements and others, like bike racks on many buses.

I know what you're thinking: wait 'til winter. Yes, we'll see if things are the same then. There are always challenges, and with the T's declining, obsolete, and sales tax-linked funding, it's hard to meet them. But I've been around Boston for 8 years now, and these improvements are the most drastic yet. The Grabauskas administration seems to be getting [some] things done.

I'm hoping that things can continue to improve and that the Patrick administration can succeed in linking the T's funding to the gasoline tax.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

MBTA introduces supersurveillance buses

Three closed circuit cameras weren't enough. Now, new buses will have eight.

If they're going to be photographing me, I'm going to be photographing them.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Overheard on 88 bus, Friday evening.

"I mix Heineken with vodka. BAD mix, nigga! That shit FUCKED up my stomach! BAD mix, nigga! Not gonna mix that again."

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A great read on the MBTA Greenbush Project.

Our beloved MBTA has spent over $500m on a rail line out to some tony suburbs. The line will generate less than 2000 (some say 8,000...) riders a day, and feed them into crumbling downtown transit infrastructure.

Big Dig megacontractor Jay Cashman built the line together with the British firm Balfour Beatty. Operation of the line will be the duty of the "MBTA Annex," or MBCR, a corporation of former/retired MBTA bigwigs and their French and Canadian partners in collusion. Their private company has a $1.07b (billion), five-year contract to run the state commuter rail for the state.

BadTransit has a great article about what may have gone wrong here, and who's going to pay for it.

ADDENDUM: Note that the state was required to build this line to offset pollution from expanding I-93 (the big dig). But other required projects--like the extension of the Green Line, a project that would attract and benefit 15-20,000 riders per day--have not even been designed.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

The MBTA's "service optional" service strikes again.

It was Saturday night, and I was having a hard time mashing potatoes with a meat tenderizer. So I decided to go to the shiny Kmart in Assembly Sqaure and get a real masher.

Now, I work from home and choose not to to own a car. That shouldn't be a problem, because the MBTA's No. 90 bus literally runs door to door, from my home to the shops at Assembly Square. The beleaguered agency's $466,000 new website announce that on this Saturday evening, the 90 bus would pick me up outside my home at about 7:35pm and then retrieve me from Kmart at about 9:05.

Nope. Even though the 90 runs across Somerville (the most densely populated city in New England, with almost 80,000 residents on four square miles), to the Sullivan Square transit hub, to the shops at Assembly Sqaure, to the Wellington transit hub, it only runs once an hour on Saturdays. It doesn't run at all on Sunday. And even when it's supposed to run, it doesn't run. So whether you're one of the hundreds who work in the big boxes or a normal person who works on weekdays and shops on weekends, you can't get there from here. Sorry, buy a car.

When I saw the schedule last night, I thought I was experiencing a rare case of luck. I went outside at 7:30. The bus came by, at 7:43, going the wrong direction. I waited another twelve minutes for the bus to go to Davis Square, turn around, and come back. It was about 20 minutes late, but I could live with that. Sure, it was 30 degrees out, but like a first-class citizen of America, I was basking in the glow from a Dunkin Donuts and reading American Psycho.

The bus driver was a friendly, young woman who admitted she was running really late. Since there were only a half-dozen patrons for the time I was on board, I got to the store quickly. I found all the junk I needed at Kmart. Bike pump, sheets, picture frames, and even a potato masher. I went outside at 9:10, just in time to see the bus going by in the other direction. By the bus driver's own admission, the bus should have been back through in ten minutes--after turning at Wellington. The temperature was dropping fast, and naturally, I was the only person at the bus stop.

After a half-hour of waiting for the bus to come back, I called a cab. The bus should have been there at 9:05. The cab came at 9:45. Just before it arrived, the parking lot security guy who had passed me a half-dozen times stopped his SUV to tell me that he didn't think any more buses would be coming.

The MBTA likes to suggest that low demand is the reason why buses run so infrequently on weekends. However, in my home neighborhood in New York City, the MTA proved the opposite case: if you build it, they will come. Retailers learned this decades ago, but the MBTA can't understand it.

When the College Point Retail Complex opened in eastern Queens, there were no nearby bus routes, just parking lots. The MTA created a new bus route, the Q20A, offering service every 10-20 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays as well as a direct connection to the Number 7 train. For those not living on the subway, the MTA also extended the extant Q76 bus to terminate at the retail center. Now, two buses provide seven-day service to both workers and shoppers. They are always packed to the gills, providing the MTA with even more operating revenue.

By comparison, Somerville's shops at Assembly Square have hourly bus service from 7a-10p on Saturdays (theoretically), but no service at all on Sundays.

Just about a mile away in Everett, the Gateway Center, which closely resembles the College Point development, receives hourly service from the No. 97 bus from 10a-7p on weekends. How could any working stiff depend on that?

The MBTA doesn't even claim to offer frequent or sufficient weekend service. But the truly sad part is that it can't even deliver the paltry services it promises. There is plenty of evidence about weekend bus problems plaguing shoppers south of downtown Boston, too.

It really bothers me how much a potentially great city (or collection of cities) is held back by its inferior transit system. I can buy a car or get out, and I think I'm going to get out.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Asleep on the Job

Just after 7am yesterday, MBTA Government Center Blue Line platform, Boston.

My cheap HP point and shoot has now lasted 13 months, making it my second-longest-lasting digital point and shoot of all time. Though it's slow and allows for little creative control, I've learned how to manipulate the firmware to get most of the images I want. It's always in my bag.

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Yesterday's Commute

MBTA 88 bus to Green Line at Lechmere to Blue Line at Goverment Center to Airport. Massport shuttle to JetBlue A320 to JFK. Port Authority AirTrain to MTA E train at Jamaica to 6 train at 51st to Grand Central.

Then, F train from 42nd to Roosevelt Ave. E train to Jamaica, AirTrain to JetBlue E-190 to BOS. Massport shuttle bus to Blue Line to Green Line at Government Center. Green Line to Lechmere, 88 bus home.

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