Wednesday, January 26, 2011

RE: The Lady On The Orange Line Platform

While exiting a sardine level crowded Orange Line train at North Station today I heard a woman extol "This is just unacceptable! How many days of crowded cars has it been like this?" Now I agree with this woman, but in the same way that a Massachusetts liberal can disapprove of the way President Obama is running the country, we can be greedy like that.

I'm no expert of the cost benefit analysis of public transit nor do I claim to understand the financial problems that plague the US public transportation sector but I do know that I can leave my house at 7:25 AM and arrive at my office at 8:05 AM for less $1.50  (plus whatever percentage of my taxes go to the MBTA) and I don't have to pay attention. If on bad weather days that takes a bit longer and its more crowded due to higher ridership then so be it. It's a fucking bargain at double the price.

I would gladly pay more money per trip if it meant faster trains, a more expansive system, extra tracks for express service, enclosed stations, expanded platforms for more cars per train, etc. But people like this woman, who hate higher taxes but love exceptional service, are not going to allow it.

Now I don't know this woman, but that wont stop me from pretending to know this woman. My guess is when she thinks of public transportation she thinks of something a little less of the quality than what you get for a hired car and at a fraction of the price. There is a reason why it costs me $40 to take a Taxi to Logan Airport and $1.70 (plus whatever percentage of my taxes go to the MBTA) to go by public transit. And that reason does not stem from a lack of effort by the MBTA its stems from the bizarre way we value the service.

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