Some things might seem basic and essential to some of us, but it feels like common sense gets lost on some people. I remember when I first got to Boston 8.5 years ago, I was absolutely stunned by the lack of signage in places where signs and directions are essential, like the airport and bus stops. Logan was a site seriously under construction and the signs were sparse and mostly handwritten; finding the word “exit” on a sign, was like hitting the lottery. Now Logan is WAY better, with very good signs helping people navigate the place and go to where they need to go: exits (yay!), taxis, buses, the T.
Oh, yes, the T… I remember back in those days, when I tried to take a bus to South Boston. I was around Downtown Crossing and was trying to see from where I could take bus No7. I saw a bus stop and went over to see if it stopped there. The bus stop sign had only a T on it, no list of buses that stopped there. I thought there was something wrong with that sign, so I walked further down the street to another bus stop: same sign, just a T, no list of buses. I thought, “wow, this place is really great, every bus stops at every bus stop, so they don’t have to list the buses on the bus stop signs, brilliant”, or more like brilliantly stupid. Shouldn’t a bus stop sign with a list of all the buses that stop there be something essential??? What good is it if it just says “bus stop”? What amazed me the most is that somebody really thought that a bus stop with no information on it was good enough. And so many other people at the MBTA thought that was good enough too. And that’s Boston we’re talking about, not Smallville, USA.
I tried to find a map that showed the bus routes, and of course such thing didn’t exist back then (and it was 2001 I remind you, not the late 1800s). Then I started asking T personnel around South Station, most didn’t’ know, somebody finally said the No7 stopped somewhere on Summer Street. Progress, I know… Got to Summer Street, there were several bus stops, impossible to know where No7 actually stopped. I started asking people, other T bus drivers, nobody had any idea. I was waiting for the phantom bus, in vain. A bus driver pointed at a stop where No7 supposedly stopped. I waited there, only to have No7 come by and stop at another stop further down Summer Street. I ran after it, and caught it, but the whole experience was absolutely frustrating. There’s something so blatantly wrong with this picture, and nobody does anything about it.
Some years later the T started a ground breaking project: adding the bus routes numbers to the bus stop signs!!! Oh, my GOD, how novel!!!!
The other point I want to make is that of the person who gives out wrong information. If you don’t know something for sure, just say “I don’t know”, or something like “I’m not sure, I think it is like this”. Just don’t give me false information. Especially when you work for the MBTA and I’m asking a T related question. My out of town friend who’s visiting, was trying to get yesterday from Park Street to Watertown. He asked many T employees, including those who work at the Information booth for directions, four of them didn’t know. Which is fine not to know, but they didn’t even know to give him a direction where to seek this information from, like suggesting looking up a bus route map, for example. And then, the fifth person he asked told him to go to South Station because “lots of buses leave from there”. Wow, I’m amazed. Now think about it, Watertown is to the west of Boston, and he sends him to South Station where buses going south leave from. And why? Because “lots of buses leave from there”. Are you serious??? If you don’t know, just shut the F* up. Anyway, my friend gets to South Station starts asking again about the bus to Watertown, every T employee he asks, has NO idea, and then a random person who overhears the question suggests that he goes to Harvard Sq where buses to Watertown leave from. Amen.
Is it so difficult to have an information booth at every subway station where T employees can answer mass transit related questions, such as bus routes questions??? Or where T riders can look up the info themselves? Their website is quite good, why can’t they have terminals for people to access the info from? Just wait 10 more years, we’ll get there, I’m sure…