not in our stars, but in ourselves
First, the good news: we won! By “we,” I mean the Patriots, obviously. I had nothing to do with it personally, although I did purchase and wear my very first sportsball jersey:
Tomorrow, there will be a victory parade through Boston, and I’m sure it will be a very merry affair.
But that brings me to the bad news. If you recall, we got about two feet of snow last week. Because the worst of the storm took place during the daytime on Tuesday, the MBTA was closed for the day, as were almost all businesses. Most places were still closed again on the following Wednesday, but the T was running. Sort of. Yesterday, it snowed again. The worst of the storm took place, again, during the day – but either because the powers-that-be weren’t paying attention, or because they were overly optimistic, or because they just couldn’t abide the thought of another day-long shutdown, most systems were permitted to go. My work canceled, but there were plenty of people who weren’t so lucky.
Cut to: the public transit system that puts the “T” in “catastrophe,” the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. I’ll tell you all about my day in MBTA hell. I went to Back Bay to wait for the Orange Line. It took about 10 minutes for a train to arrive, and it was packed. I opted to wait for the next train – which took another 10 minutes to arrive – in the freezing cold. (Back Bay isn’t an underground station; it’s a tunnel that protects from rain and snow, but not from cold.) The second train finally arrived, and we chugged along. No incident at Tufts Medical Center, and seemingly no incident at Chinatown…but then we just sat there at Chinatown, with the train’s doors open, for about 15 minutes.
Eventually, a very mumbly announcement came over the intercom that we were held up due to “door problems.” Right. We finally started moving, and got to Downtown Crossing – which was a mess. DTX, as those of us in a hurry call it, is one of the busiest hubs in the entire system. If trains are even five minutes apart, the platforms are liable to become grossly overcrowded. Here it was, at least 15 minutes since the last train, during the beginning of the evening “rush” hour (the only thing rushing during morning and evening commutes on the T, obviously, are people’s pulses and blood pressure) – and here came our already stuffed train, pulling into a station whose platform was positively distended with angry passengers. At that point, I hopped off and ran over to Park Street to get the Green Line. I had to wait another 20 minutes for that train to start moving (the announcement, repeated every five minutes or so, was that we were standing by for a “schedule adjustment” – the MBTA’s favorite way to pretend everything is under control), but it did start chugging along after that. All told, it took me over an hour to travel less than a mile: rather than go home, as I meant to do, I just went back to my boyfriend’s place.
And I was one of the lucky ones. Neither the Orange Line nor the Green Line branch I took were officially experiencing service delays at the time. They were effectively fucked – but not officially. The T only had time to acknowledge two delays – delays that became more and more disastrous as the day wore on. First, a car blocked the tracks on the Boston College (B Line) branch of the Green Line, leading to multiple trains just sitting on the tracks until shuttle buses began trudging through (45 minutes apart, according to some reports on Twitter). It was a true-blue blizzard yesterday, so standing around outside, waiting first for non-moving trains and then for non-existent shuttles was a HUGE no-no. Second, a train died on the Red Line…and then another…and another…and and and. The commuter rail was an absolute mess as well. Here we have South Station:
Today, the MBTA had the audacity (or the chutzpah, I guess) to advise people not to bother. Seriously. The T spokesman announced this morning:
A week of constant exposure to frigid temperatures, ice, and record snowfall has taken a major toll on the MBTA’s vehicles and infrastructure. Rail service, particularly on the Red Line and Commuter Rail, will be severely impacted. Due to a shortage of fully functioning subway cars, customers are asked to consider an alternative to the Red Line today.
It gets better. General Manager Beverly Scott, who was also in charge of the bad joke known as MARTA down in Atlanta, told WBUR: “Quite candidly, if you don’t wind up having to use the service [Tuesday], that probably is a plus […]. I’m just going to be candid. I’ve never said that in my life, but I don’t want to wind up misleading anyone.” No, of course you don’t. I didn’t get to listen to her interview with WBUR today, if it in fact aired, but I wonder if she made it clear that she meant only the Red Line – or if she meant all lines. Because all lines were absolutely catastrophic today. To wit:
Possibly due to a broken rail. Ha. Haha. Oh, great. But wait! There’s more!
Haaaaaa! Wonderful! Oh, simply splendid. Hold up – there’s even MORE fuckery?!
Sigh. Of course.
There we go. All the lines, all through the day, all running at service levels we could term “kneecapped.”
GM Scott pointed out that there’s only so much they can do with the antiquated equipment and infrastructure they have. That’s true. It’s been underfunded and overextended for a long, long time. It’s running with a huge deficit. Much of the blame for that can go to various politicians over the years, who’ve fucked over the public in order to get elected; I’m pretty sure most of them are still in power, too, or at least living very comfortably. But surely there has to be a lot of blame affixed to the management as well.
What’s the solution? I just don’t know. These storms have broken the MBTA, however, and I’m nervous about how I’m going to make it home tonight. Frankly, I’d like to see some Soviet-style show trials – of GM Scott, of the MBTA Board of Directors, of MassDOT, of Governor Baker, of former Governor Patrick, of every fatcat who’s prioritized personal gain and glory over making sure the City of Boston and Commonwealth of Massachusetts have the public transit they need and deserve. They don’t have to die once their guilt is proven beyond doubt, but maybe they have to go to Siberia. In fact, I have a feeling all these rotten bureaucrats would fit right in with Putin’s crowd. Go on, get out of here. Let’s hire Bill Belichick.