Monday, August 19, 2013

Here Are Five Good Reasons Why I Love the Subway

I have a confession to make.  I don’t drive.  Oh, I have my driver’s license, but, trust me, it’s in everyone’s best interest if I only use it for identification purposes.

I am also a big proponent of public transportation.  I’m not sure whether the main reason for this is that I truly believe in it, or just the fact that I don’t drive, so I sort of have to use it.  It’s kind of like the old “which came first, the chicken or the egg” question.

Either way, I am fortunate to live in a city where the public transportation system happens to be pretty good.  (I can almost hear the groans of disagreement as I type.) 

Boston’s subway system, known by commuters as “the T” (an extremely shortened version of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), is the oldest public transit system in the country.  There are times, I admit, when it seems some of the cars being used now might possibly be original equipment.  However, most of the time, the system works.

In fact, I kind of enjoy it.

Which is why I felt it might be fun to present to you my five good reasons why I love the subway.  Let’s get started!

1.  The Price is Right

Yup, you read that right.  The subway is a veritable bargain.  The current price of a single subway ride is $2.50, and if you have a monthly pass, called a "Charlie Card," it works out to a lot less. 

I live in a small town that is essentially a part of Boston.  I can walk from my home to the Orient Heights subway station in East Boston in under 20 minutes.  I’ve taken a taxi home from my downtown Boston office a couple of times.  The total distance is just about 6 miles.  In early rush hour traffic, the taxi took about an hour to get me home...and cost me about $35.  For the price of a subway ticket, I can get from Aquarium station, just up the street from my office, to Orient Heights in under 15 minutes, and then walk for another 15 or so minutes, and be home.  To me, there is no comparison between those two options.

The "Charlie Card"

 2.  It’s Pretty Easy to Find Your Way Around

The Boston subway system is color-coded.  Not only does this make for pretty looking maps, but it makes it relatively easy to figure out which subway station and which platform are the right ones.  Need to travel on the Blue Line (downtown Boston to the nearby northern suburbs, via East Boston and the airport)?  Go into one of the stations that include a blue bar on its entrance, and stand at the platform with the blue bar.  Not sure which direction to go?  “Inbound” refers to travel towards downtown Boston, and “outbound,” you guessed it, refers to travel away from downtown Boston.

Colorful Boston Subway Map

3.  It’s Usually Reliable

Okay, no smartass comments from you locals.  I said “usually,” didn’t I?  Yes, there can be delays.  And, oh, can those delays be horrific.  That 30-minute door-to-door I bragged about earlier has taken well over two hours a few times.  But the vast majority of the time, the T runs on or close to schedule.  And there’s a lot to be said for that.

4.  You Can Feel Self-Righteous and Superior

After all, you’re not contributing to the pollution of the earth by using a gas guzzling, carbon-emitting car!  So go ahead and give your friends smug looks.  Shake your head sadly.  Hell, roll your eyes if the mood strikes.  You’ve earned it!  They’re not the ones battling old ladies for a seat every morning.  They’re not the ones sitting next to that weird guy who didn’t shower this week.  Or last week.  Or possibly this month.

5.  The People-Watching is World Class

You didn’t think this was just going to be a straightforward love letter about the subway, did you?  As you will no doubt come to understand, humor is a very big part of my worldview, and therefore will be applied liberally to all blog entries.

The best reason to ride the T is really very simple.  There are more unfortunate fashion choices, sanity-impaired individuals, and just plain old weirdoes per square inch than you could ever hope for.  It is always entertaining.  I’ve been riding the rails for over 30 years, so I’ve pretty much seen it all.  And I am more than willing to share a few of my recent (read “post-iPhone camera”) sightings with you here.  Be forewarned.  This could affect your dreams for many nights to come.  (Some words of advice - headphones and/or a good book.  Don’t leave home without them.  Anti-bacterial wipes aren’t a bad idea, either.)

No, sadly, I don't believe he was on his way to a costume party...
Not sure which of these is my favorite, the, ah, fashion-challenged
young lady on the left, or the dude with the "Cocaine & Caviar" cap.
Okay, you're right, it's a toss up.
Just think.  You can never un-see this.  You're welcome!

So that’s the T, summarized rather nicely, I think.  When you factor in the entertainment value, you can see that that reasonable price I mentioned earlier is even more of a bargain than you might have originally thought.

Happy commuting!

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