Tuesday, April 05, 2005

SHUTTLE TO THINK

Stay with it. There’s a punchline.

With construction on the green line, T train service ends at North Station. If you want to get to the CambridgeSide Galleria, you have to hop a shuttle bus. In typical Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority fashion, this isn’t so easy.

Our mass transit officials apparently couldn’t figure out a way for the buses to stop near the T station. Instead, seekers after the shuttle must walk three or so blocks, following signs — if they know to look for them in the first place — to where the buses stop. Except they don’t stop there.

They’ve been moved. It’s confusion piled atop confusion.

Now, a small sandwich board at the T exit says to go the “Tip O’Neill building (Lomasney Way),” but its flip side says the buses stop at “Merrimac and Causeway.” Both can’t be right, but they’re still equally useless to someone who doesn’t already know where they’re going. Tourists can despair twice as much, or even cube their despair, given the added challenge of knowing or guessing that the Tip O’Neill Building is, in fact, the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Federal Building. (Everyone knows to ignore half the official name, including the beginning, right? Even teenagers from Samoa, Bosnia and Iowa?)

Perhaps it’s best to follow those signs — again, if you know to look for them in the first place — three of which guide you forward. Then one leads you vaguely to the left. If you don’t get lost as a result, by completing a tight arc around a building, you find the last one pointing definitively at where the buses don’t stop.

Right. Because, as you may remember, one half of a small sandwich board three blocks back told you the bus is at the “Tip O’Neill Building.” So does a sign where the buses are supposed to be: “T bus stop has moved to Lomasney Way at ‘Tip’ O’Neill Bldg.” (Perhaps the sign should say, “Turn around. Walk opposite direction to sharp-angled brown building across the street.” Perhaps it should also provide a brief history of the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, including or consisting only of the fact he was known as “Tip.”)

If you survive crossing the street and identify the need to go around yet another building to a spot you can’t see from where you’ll certainly be, you will finally find the place where the shuttle buses stop. And if you spend the time waiting for the shuttle buses by looking around, you’ll finally come to the punchline that makes this all worthwhile in a tragicomic kind of a way:

There’s a sign amid construction saying “T improvements ... Creating jobs for today, better service for tomorrow.”

Will tomorrow never come? Will it come before the next shuttle?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude, just buy a car.

eric said...

Well, you know what they say, Marc..."all construction projects are local." Or is it "all signs are local"? No that's not it. "All blogs are local"? Nope just can't put the Tip of my finger on it.

Scape7 said...

Buying a car would change the nature of my complaints. It sure as hell wouldn't eliminate my complaints. Not in Greater Boston, baby.

Anonymous said...

No, I meant a *flying* car.

Indri said...

Yay! You're back!

And no, a car wouldn't help. I saw that for myself last month. Ye gods.

Anonymous said...

I have a better idea, board the bus at Government Center. You are more likely to get a seat because that is the beginning of the route.

bwc said...

Whereas the sign may be shady, there's a few things to take into account here. a) I don't see how many out-of-towners would be taking the shuttle from North Station outbound to Cambridge. I would imagine most people would be coming from Gov't Center where things make more sense. b) most people boarding in that area (and I ride that shuttle all the time) are people who either 1) work in the area, 2) are coming off the commuter train. Both of whom mostly benefit from the moved spot, since the three biggest employers/attractions in that area are Fleet Center, North Station, Tip Building, and the newer stop (which is actually always been a stop on the shuttle) at Tip is only a couple hundred feet from one of the doors of the Station where the commuter trains stop.
Whereas there's always something to complain about so far as the T, I thought when they changed the stops, "Well someone actually reconsidered!"

Scape7 said...

All excellent points. I appreciate the input from someone more familiar with the area — although I will point out that my (somewhat) long journey into confusion was not walked alone. At 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, I was with a small gaggle of similarly confused people, and would suggest that taking the train as far as it will go, rather than getting off at Government Center, probably isn't the weirdest behavior I, the rest of the gaggle or anyone else could imagine.

The improved stop is wonderful. I just wonder if this giant state agency can manage to put up signs that reflect the change in a timely fashion.

Anonymous said...

Lots of tourists go to the Museum of Science and they would most likely take the Green Line to the end, if they were already on it. I've done this myself and I go by there everyday. Tons of tourists. Also, lots of college students looking for the mall.

shanna said...

It's definitely smartest to get off at Gov't Center if you want to take the shuttle, and the C & E line T drivers (usually) announce this as the T pulls in there ("Shuttle bus service to Science park and Lechmere upstairs; stay on board for Haymarket and North Station"). I would say that they should just stop all service at Gov't Center and make everyone take the bus, or else send all service to North Station and pick better stops, but that would be too logical.

Scape7 said...

RIght on all accounts, I think. Who knew I had such erudite readers? I thought you guys were just looking at the pictures.

eric said...

No, Marc, that would have been in the recent pictorial of "Girls of the Green Line." (Hey, I read the articles, too!)