I’m sorry, Boston, but the T hasn’t got a damn thing on the Metro.

Oh, Metro, how I miss thee.  Let me count the ways….

1)  The Metro actually goes out into the suburbs.

The T’s final stop is at Alewife in Cambridge.  That’s a paltry 6 miles from the center of Downtown Boston (Chinatown).  The Metro, on the other hand, goes out to Vienna, in Virginia.  That’s fourteen miles from Downtown DC (Metro Center).  That means the Metro has over 200% the reach of the T.  And that doesn’t even count the bus routes.  Sigh.  Hello actively saving for a car.

2)  Escalefters – Walk on the left!  Stand on the right!

After 4 months, this still drives me crazy.  I don’t know how this became culture in DC, but it is.  It’s ingrained in people.  Those of you haven’t been to DC don’t understand the shame that is lauded upon you if you stand on the left of an escalator.  (This actually has become such a part of culture that the Metro started promoting it so tourists would understand, see below).

The fact that this knowledge hasn’t made it to Boston still gets me.  I don’t want to have to zigzag between people when I’m running down the escalators to catch a train.

3)  When’s the next train?  Oh, right.  In Boston, I don’t know.

I have come to terms with this in a meditative sense of being able to live entirely in an underground moment.

But there’s something comforting in DC knowing that the next 8 Car Green Line Train will be arriving to take you to your destination in 4 minutes.  I know Boston *has* a schedule, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s followed.  They could just be sending trains willy-nilly.  How would we ever know?

What’s worse is the MBTA does taunt you with announcements of “The next train to wherever is approaching” (it’s coming!) and “The next train to wherever is arriving” (it’s closer now!).  If they have the technology to do that, couldn’t they just expand that to times on an LED sign?

4)  Riding the T is the equivalent of riding a roaring T-rex.

I’ve had a select few T rides where the cars have been magically quiet. But on the whole, there are points in the T where it’s literally impossible to talk to people short of all out yelling.  Maxing out the volume on my iPod makes it sound like The Killers are just whispering “Mr. Brightside”.  Sure, there are loud points in any public transit system.  But, I visited DC last November, and I got to listen to my iPod on a normal volume.  The Metro is significantly quieter.

5) The character of the T versus the brand of the Metro

I’m less fired up about this point, but it is worth mentioning:  The Metro has a very distinct brand, specifically in its standardized architecture.  I often wonder what Future Civilizations will think of the massively domed stations, with their earth-colored tiles and circular lights in front of tracks.  (OK, they’ll probably think that it was a primitive rail system, but humor me.)

Anyway, the T has a lot more character, and I know that ever since the 2004 DNC, they’ve been building up their brand.  (CharlieCard, anyone?)  And part of the charm of the T is that it’s an old system — the first subway system in the United States.  The architecture isn’t really as standardized, or maybe it is, and it’s just not as noticeable.


In conclusion… I don’t hate the T, I just miss the Metro.

These are gripes, sure, but I do appreciate what the T does for me: gets me places warmly and quicker than walking.

And the fact that I can eat an Anna’s burrito while riding is awesome.  Take that Metro!


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