Friday, March 19, 2010

Battle of Mass Transit Systems: T vs. Metro

Here's another installment in our ongoing "Battle of the Mass Transit Systems."

This impression of Boston's T comes from Liz and was originally posted on her blog, Life as a List.

As with our write ups of BART and the CTA, we make a caveat that it's really impossible to gauge the true character of a transit system without regular commuting. After all, many tourists come away from DC thinking the Metro is a modern miracle.

Here's Liz's take on Boston's "T."
  • You can move from car to car--anyone, not just employees, and there are no doors. The train is like a giant caterpillar.
  • No warning lights on the train platforms.
  • Food and drink are allowed on the trains, and at some stops/stations, there are snack shops right next to the tracks. Possibly, as a result, the trains were much dirtier than those in DC. But there were also signs on the trains that said "your tax dollars pay to clean this train so please throw away your trash." Am I the only one who finds that ironic?
  • The stations are ugly and have no character.
  • The interiors of the cars themselves are ugly, much worse than DC (believe it or not). The seats and floors totally clash, and the seats are ugly and uncomfortable.
  • Everything about the T was less accessible for people with disabilities:
  • There was no clearly marked priority seating on the trains.
  • The stations were not clearly marked as to where elevators were located.
  • The cars themselves were less accessible.
  • I thought the passengers were more rude than those in DC; well maybe not more rude, but dumber ... there is no etiquette for getting on/ off the trains i.e. people on the platform don't wait at all for people to exit before bombarding the train.
  • On escalators they stand on the left AND right.
  • You have to swipe your card to get into the station like Metro, but you don't to leave.
  • Regardless of your destination, all rides cost the same on the T. What a ripoff, or bargain.
  • The equivalent of the SmarTrip cards are free!
  • I like Metro's Web site more than the T's.
Another view:
perel42 Sigh. In Boston, on the T. #MBTA used to remind me how awesome #WMATA was. Now they're pretty much the same, and the T sure hasn't improved.

Other transit battles:

Other items:
Washington Post Local print publication breaks major Metro news
Examiner story on fired texter
Take the WMATA budget survey


Alison said...

Speaking of "Battle of the Mass Transit Systems", I saw an 'ad' on the Metro this morning which was a huge picture of a rat and said something along the lines of -

Unlike some subway systems (which shall remain nameless) you'll never see rats the size of house cats in our system because its illegal to eat or drink in Metro.

SignorMMA said...

Yeah, those rat ads have been around for a while. Unfortunately, some morons still eat and drink. For the most part, it seems a lot of folks abide by it, though.

Adam Gaffin said...

Bostonian here:

Sounds like she only rode the Green Line, which is actually a trolley line with cars that have rotating centers that make them feel like more than one car, but they really aren't (and which lags behind the other lines in handicap accessibility).

The heavy-duty subway lines - Red, Orange and Blue - don't let passengers move from car to car. And they have fairly prominent "priority" placards above seats next to the doors.

As for food on the trains, yep, we've got Dunkin' Donuts right in the stations! And how great is that? The rats know to stay down on the tracks, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I love the Red Line on the T (unlike the Red Line where I live, sigh.) And yeah, DD and a coffee extra cream extra sugar is awesome.

Matt' said...

In fact, the Green Line, which is a light rail line, has articulated cars. But each car is only 72 feet long (3 feet shorter than *one* metro car). So you can move within that 72 feet without encountering a door. But you cannot move between vehicles. There actually are no car-end doors, because the cab is the width of the car.

I think Boston only runs 2-car LRV's, which means that the maximum length of a Green Line train is only 144 feet, 6 feet shorter than a 2-car Metro train. And Metro's minimum train length is 4-cars (300 feet).

If you want to compare rolling stock, you can only compare the DC Metro to Boston's heavy rail lines: Red, Orange, and Blue. They don't use articulated vehicles.

Anonymous said...

Actually on the Redline in Boston they are starting to do warning announcements when a train was approaching/arriving/etc; and it was being phased out when my husband and I left in July.

hrh king friday xiii, ret. said...

Do T trains slam into other trains or thier operators unresponsive to emergency calls from passengers?

Kara said...

I was thinking it was the green line that all those bad comments came from. Sounds like other people that used to live up there agree.

Adam Gaffin said...

The signals on T lines generally work, except the Green Line doesn't have any automated system to stop trains, so we had a nice little crash last year when the driver was too busy texting his girlfriend to notice the trolley stopped in front of him (after that incident, the T banned all cell phone use by all employees). Also, Green Line trolleys have some problems with the overhead power lines, which sometimes make them spontaneously combust. And sometimes, the other lines have spectacular trash fires.

But to their credit, T workers just this afternoon re-opened a section of the Green Line that was washed out in the nor'easter we had this past weekend - several days ahead of schedule.

David said...

I was in Santiago, Chile last year on a work visit and I have to say the metro there was the best I saw. The trains were more like cars than a train and also had the caterpillar like build where you could pretty much walk throughout. The trains were also probably twice as wide with little seats and double doors that were also probably twice as wide. You could essentially fit 4 people at a time through the doors. The trains also came like every 15 seconds at rush hour.

It was phenomenal.

InfamousOreob said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Boston T system. I adore that we can eat on there (big ups to the DD at Alewife, yo! lol), and I feel it's amazingly efficient. MORE stops too...VIVA LA BOSTON! :)

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