Tuesday, July 26, 2011

7-26-11: My Month on the T

I decided to take public transportation to work during the month of July. I did so because I was anticipating a work stoppage (and picket line) at the plant I work at. Since the Commuter Rail happens to stop at the plant, I figured it was a good time to buy a monthly pass. Alas, no strike, and yet I was still stuck with the pass.

The trip from my apartment in Medford to the GE plant in Lynn typically takes about an hour each way, though one day a couple weeks ago I did get home in 38 minutes, which is about how long a frustrating afternoon drive typically takes. There are three bus routes I can take, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. One of them (the 101) has a stop about 50 yards from my apartment. Another (the 89) is a 5 minute walk with a Dunkin’ Donuts on the way. The other (the 80) bypasses the subway but involves a shuttle bus at Lechmere. Plenty of options.

The typical ride on the 101 or the 89 takes about 10-15 minutes to get to Sullivan Square, which is followed by a roughly 4 minute subway ride to North Station, where I catch the Commuter Rail (which rumbles agonizingly slowly by Sullivan Square - why must you torment me, MBTA?!). The train ride lasts between 17 and 19 minutes, with only one stop (Chelsea) in between. No part of the trip takes more than 19 minutes.

After about a month of taking the T to work, I can see both the benefits and drawbacks of the public transportation commute. I will not be continuing this routine after this week because it is simply not worth the time and money. Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons:


- No driving

- Time to listen to a few podcasts and read the news

- A bit more exercise

- Monthly commuter rail pass (Zone 2; $151) includes unlimited bus and subway


- More expensive than driving, overall

- Little to no flexibility in schedule

- Crowds

- Disjointed commute (not enough time to get a lot done)

- Some buses are in disrepair (I have been rained on by leaky AC units on a few buses)

For some people, the T is ideal. If you live and work in the city, and don’t need a car, it’s perfect. For those that have to go through the city and back out, like me, it’s less so.

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