By Kate Ebeling, Staff Writer
Who said mass-transit was easy?
Having grown up in Houston, the concept of mass transportation extends as far as our METRO bus and a sad excuse for a light rail that has maybe five miles to its name.
I first heard of the mysterious Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority from a friend who had spent a summer with extended family. She warned me of the perils the green line plagues Boston University students with, the confusion between inbound and outbound lines, and the struggle of putting money on a Charlie Card, only to lose it the next day.
I listened with little more than contempt for the basic plebeian that couldn’t figure out a map.
My first day in Boston, I took the green line the wrong way twice, got lost in Southie, and had to call my dad (a former New England resident) who actually laughed at me and hung up twice, just to be funny.
Having spent a couple months in Boston now, I’ve learned a few do’s and don’ts of riding the MBTA.
1. Push all the way to the back.
Yeah, you might have to get off in a few stops, but there are about 50 people behind you that also have places to be. Make some space and don’t stand around.
2. Always give up your seat if you think someone else needs it more.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched people sit with their headphones in and sunglasses on, acting like they can’t see the mom with a baby, diaper bag and groceries in hand, make her way onto the T and stand around, swaying with the lurching of the train as it makes its abrupt stop into the next station. Stand up and help someone out, you look a lot cooler being a nice guy than sitting there ignoring the world.
3. Take your bag/backpack off.
And don’t put it on the empty seat next to you. The T is crowded enough as it is, and no one believes that your bag is more deserving of a seat than them. Don’t even try to make an excuse for that one, it’s not going to work.
All in all, some pretty incredible things can happen on the T. I’ve watched a woman go into labor on the red line, and I saw a couple in their wedding attire get on right near Copley with such a look of pure happiness that I might have shed a tear or two and then gotten off at the next stop to make sure nobody witnessed me crying. I’ve sat in the back of a T car on a Friday night, surrounded by my friends and feeling incredibly happy as I pay a mere two dollars to avoid the brisk Boston air.
Getting used to the T is something that is a continual process, and I will never be a subway surfer like Bostonians are. But I will admit that even though it runs late, it breaks down and occasionally hits a pedestrian or two, the T is a blessing to a broke college student, and as much as this Texan would prefer to drive, the MBTA is a solid substitute.