Tuesday, October 5, 2010

T vs. Train

With the weather being so gross lately, I have been alternating between the T and the Train. On days when it is raining buckets and Josh does not teach first period, he will drop me off at the T stop that is not so close to our house. When he teaches first period or has a soccer game/practice after work really any afternoon, it's life on the Commuter Rail for me. After years of commuting into Boston on both forms of transportation, here are my thoughts about taking the T vs. the Train.

In my opinion, both are great and both are a huge pain. Driving into Boston with the traffic and parking being expensive does not make sense. Living on a form of public transportation makes life a lot easier and a lot less expensive. Both the T and Train make getting to and from work simple, but are not always the easiest modes of transportation to deal with.

First up, the T, more specifically, the Green Line.  

  1. T's come frequently, making it easy to catch one, and leaving no reason to panic if you miss one. They also run from roughly 5am until 12:30am.
  2. The T system is pretty complex and covers much of Boston and its immediate suburbs making it easy (though not always time efficient) to get from one place to another and to live happily without a car.
  3. The T is pretty cost effective. A one way ticket is $1.70 with a Charlie Card or $2 without and a monthly pass is only $59. If you take the T every day to work, it is well worth the price.
  4. T etiquette says it perfectly acceptable to wave at someone you know and then stick your nose back in your book, especially in the morning. It is also appropriate to chit chat with friends when you run into them. Really, anything goes.
  5. There is no better place in the world to read a good a book than on the T. It is the quintessential 'alone in a busy world' place.
  1. The T does not run on a schedule. This means that at a non-rush hour time you could unknowingly wait 20 minutes for a train to come. Or worse yet, at rush hour you could watch a ton of trains go by and none of them are the one you want.
  2. The Green Line is mostly outside. Waiting for the T to make its way down Beacon Street or Comm Ave in the snow or rain is not a fun activity, especially when traffic is bad and you have to wait through a million red lights and crosswalks.
  3. The T gets CROWDED! At rush hour, before and after Red Sox games, and really anytime you get on a T it is packed full of people. Often there are 5 rows of people just waiting to get on at any given station.
  4. Ts break down quite a bit. It is not unheard of to be stuck on a T in between stations for 15-20+ minutes...sometimes up to an hour.
  5. You need to give yourself an hour or more to get anywhere on the T at any time. With all of the waiting and all of the stopping, the only way to ensure timeliness is by giving yourself a huge window.
And now, the Commuter Rail

  1. The Commuter Rail runs on a schedule and, more importantly, sticks to a schedule. If a train is scheduled to leave at 7:27am, you know that it will leave at 7:27.
  2. If, for some reason, the train is delayed, there is a digital sign that tells you not only that the train is delayed, but by how long. Sure, it may be inconvenient, but at least you can plan accordingly.
  3. The Commuter Rail is generally less crowded than the T. It is a lot larger and can accommodate many people. Sometimes standing is necessary, but never in the packed in, contortionist style of the T.
  4. The Commuter Rail itself is very nice. The seats are much larger than the T and more comfortable. The ride is also smoother with more amenities like wifi and bathrooms.
  5. You can listen to the radio on the train.
  1. Because there is a schedule and it is sparse, you are really trapped into planning your day around the train. It is also easy to miss the train and have to wait an hour for the next one, or be stuck in town without a way home. 
  2. The Commuter Rail only makes 1 stop in downtown Boston, either South Station or North Station, depending on the train. So, unless your destination is right there, you need to then take the T or a bus in order to reach your final destination...adding time to your commute. 
  3. The Commuter Rail is expensive. To go the shortest distance, one way, it costs $4.25 and $135 for a monthly pass. It goes all the way up to $250 depending on where you get on. Of course the train does go out a lot farther into the suburbs than the T does, so the expense is worth it. 
  4. Commuter Rail etiquette is different than the T. If you run into someone you know it is not generally acceptable to just say hi and move on. People stop and chat, even if they are on the train together for an hour. And, when the middle seat is vacant and the 2 end seats are taken, rarely does anyone move over out of courtesy. If you ask them to move, they generally scowl. 
  5. Many train stations are outside, leaving you to freeze, get wet, or sweat, depending on the weather and the season.
It's hard to tell which one is better, the T or the Train. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Having access to one or the other makes it easier to get to work in downtown Boston. I'm not sure which one I would choose if I had to. Though, on rainy days like today, I wish more than anything that I could drive to work...of course driving has its own set of pros and cons.

No comments:

Post a Comment