I've been back for less than a day...
Apr 10, 2007

...and already I've got something to write about the MBTA. This time it's about the buses. I know first hand that, to people who don't live in and around Boston, the (often very) negative feelings people have about the MBTA don't always seem justified. But I think I've got a pretty good example to help explain the way we feel.
Today I met with a (hopefully soon-to-be) new client at a cafe on Newbury St. I took the bus to get there (83 from Porter to Central, CT1 from Central to Newbury & Mass Ave.). The driver of the CT1, as he was driving down Mass Ave (a major artery, for those who don't live around here), was making out a check (to whom, I don't know). And when I say as he was driving, I mean literally as he was driving. He'd have one hand on the wheel while he was looking down at his lap writing on the check with the other (though, in the picture to the right we were stopped at the light where Main splits off from Mass Ave.). As we were crossing the Mass Ave bridge he actually took both hands off the wheel so that he could put the check in the envelope and lick and seal it. As anyone who's driven, walked, or biked across any bridge over the Charles knows, it gets very windy, certainly windy enough to push a car, let alone a bus, over into the next lane if the driver isn't paying attention. Fortunately we got lucky and neither forced anyone into oncoming traffic on the left, nor crushed any of the bikers on the right under the wheel of the bus. Then, as we got to the end of the bridge he (with both hands on the wheel, thankfully) started swerving from lane to lane as if he were actually going to maneuver the bus through the compact car sized holes in traffic. If anyone reading this has ever ridden a bus in China (if you haven't, like roller coasters, and aren't afraid to die, I highly recommend you try it some time), it was almost that bad. In general I've actually had positive experiences with the MBTA bus system. It's probably because I don't commute to work and rarely ride them during rush hour, but I've almost always had friendly, sometimes even courteous, and competent drivers, and they're even usually on time. I really do have to draw some sort of line at multitasking while guiding a several ton bus full of people down a busy street. As the Fung Wah has aptly demonstrated, it's hard enough to drive a bus as it is. Though I got where I was going on time, today the MBTA was not putting it's best foot forward (if it has one).
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