Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today's Subject: The Distance between MBTA Stops

Every day that I drive to work or whenever I take public transportation in Boston, I get a little bit angrier at the MBTA. I drive from Brighton to Watertown and am frequently stuck behind buses. I live off of the Greenline, so if I plan on going downtown, I resign myself to the fact that I will be stuck on the T for a minimum of 40 minutes, no matter how far I plan to go.

What really gets me is the distance between stops. It takes the average person 13-25 minutes to walk a mile, depending on how quickly he or she is walking. Whenever I'm in a hurry, or on my way to work, I probably walk a mile in under 20 minutes. So how long could it possibly take me to walk one to two blocks? 30 seconds? One minute? Maybe a couple minutes if I need to cross a street? Well, the MBTA bus system does not seem to believe that anyone is capable of walking more than one large block at at time, as judging from the bus routes I've seen, that is how frequently it stops. 

On my way to work, I take a left (from Washington St) onto Washington St past St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. I'm not sure which bus it is, but one of them stops immediately after turning left. Before it has a chance to accelerate, it pulls over to another stop. The bus has maybe gone half a block at this point. The bus then goes through the intersection of Washington St and Market St and pulls over again. I can walk from the Green Briar Pub to Cafénation in approximately five minutes. The bus has stopped three times in a tenth of a mile!

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You shouldn't be able to get to your stop, see the bus get to the stop ahead of yours, run after it, and be able to get on. I have tried taking the bus from home to work and to Harvard Square but have found it is faster to walk. Of course buses stop frequently, but isn't this a bit much?

I have the same issue with the Green Line, especially the B. The B line has 18 stops between Boston College and Kenmore, which is about a 4 mile distance. The Red Line has about 14 stops between Alewife and Braintree, which covers about a 20 mile distance. It takes about the same time (or maybe less) to get from the Park St stop to Quincy Center as it does to get from Park St to Washington St. How does this make sense? OK, so the Green Line does go above ground for those 18 stops and does need to stop for traffic, but I still find this a bit ridiculous. Mostly because a lot of waiting time is spent at stops and not at traffic lights. 

Why does Boston University need three stops? It's big, but it's not that big. Get rid of one of those stops! It's not like removing stops would be that hard. In fact, a few stops, such as the Mt. Hood Rd. stop, were removed simply by putting a chain over the stop and placing tape over its name on the subway map. Several stops, such as the Sutherland stop, don't even look like stops! They don't even have signs!* 

Would it really hurt people to walk a couple of extra blocks? A lot of B line stops aren't even near grocery stores, pharmacies, or anything else worthwhile. Everyone would get home a little faster if they didn't mind getting off a little bit earlier/later. 

*This leads me to a separate rant about how Boston is a great city, as long as you're a local. Expect to see this in a future post