I just got back from Miami, where I rode multiple multiple Metrobus lines, the MIA Mover, the MetroMover, and Brightline. As a regular T rider, I was blown away by how much better mass transit is in South Florida than the T in every single way. Let that sink in. Boston has significantly worse mass transit than South Florida now.
Throughout the trip, I was gushing/lamenting to my girlfriend about how much better functioning their transit is than ours. While down there, I saw the news about the macro slow zones, which just added fuel to the fire. I was anticipating an abrupt slap to the face upon landing in Boston after experiencing the luxury of mass transit in South Florida and boy was I right.
My trip from the airport to JP on Sunday was absurd, and that's with nearly perfect transfers. To start, I had to decide between the Silver Line to South Station or the Airport Shuttle to Airport Station. The Ted Williams Tunnel was showing a large traffic jam due to the Sumner closure, so I chose the Airport Shuttle. Here's how the trip went:
- Wait curbside for the Airport Shuttle (5 minutes, no big deal in terms of time), reminiscing about the MIA mover and how great and feasible such a system would be for Boston. In Miami (and JFK, Newark, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Cincinnati, etc), people are understandably more willing to hop on the people mover that ushers them from within the airport structure to the rest of the transit system. The curbside bus wait is enough to deter people, and is wholly inadequate compared to our peers.
- Hop on the Airport Shuttle from Terminal A to Airport Station. It's about a 15 minute bus-ride ride total, which is a lot longer and less pleasant than the people movers that exist for other airports that don't have an easier, walkable rail transit connection.
- Wait for the Blue LIne for 6 minutes. No big deal.
- Ride the Blue Line from Airport to Government Center, as instructed, due to the Orange Line shutdown. The trip took 90% longer than usual, owing to the slow zones, with the Blue Line hitting a maximum speed of 22 mph. Yikes.
- Go upstairs where there was a Green Line trolly (C-Branch) waiting for me. Win! Transfers have been god so far.
- Ride the Green Line from Government Center to Copley, as instructed, due to the Orange Line shutdown. The trip took 40% longer than usual, with the Green Line hitting a maximum speed of 25 mph. Not good, but not THAT much worse than the Green Line usually is. I get to Copley 55 minutes after getting to the curbside bus stop at Terminal A, and 50 minutes after departing the Airport on the Shuttle. That's with great transfers and nothing unplanned that went wrong. Yikes!
- The next E-Branch train is not for a while, so I continue to follow the prescribed diversion and walk right onto an Orange Line Shuttle in Copley Square. It leaves moments after I board. There isn't much traffic. I arrive at Ruggles 1 hour and 13 minutes after departing the airport, with great transfers and absolutely nothing unexpected going wrong.
- I arrive at Ruggles to closed fare gates. Why are we collecting fares here? I thought the standard practice was to leave fare gates open at a station with shuttle bus replacement service. I hope that the gate recognizes my payment as a transfer and it did NOT! Great. I get the pleasure of paying two fares for this trip.
- There is an Orange Line train right there in the station, so all I have to do is wait for it to go north a bit to the crossover, chang tracks, then come back southbound to board. This move takes longer than it should, but is low on the list of pressing issues.
- Hop on the Orange Line. Ride it to Stony Brook. That trip only added about one minute due to slow zones. I arrive at Stony Brook Station 1 hour and 27 minutes after departing the airport on the shuttle, with good transfers and absolutely nothing unplanned that went wrong. Nothing about the trip surprised me. It was all exactly what I expected.
It is amazing how visiting a city with functional mass transit (Miami) really puts things in perspective. When that city is Miami (and not Tokyo, lol), it really nails the point home. The MBTA has failed. Given that I believe mass transit is part of the life-blood of a functional city, Boston has failed. It's quite pathetic.