Navigating the Mystery of the MBTA

Using the MBTA (the ‘T’ for short for any of you who are not familiar) is not for the faint of heart. There are many things to be aware of prior to jumping into one of the Green Line cars that will get you to Questrom. Now, I’m sure there are many of you who are used to it because you have lived or worked in Boston for a while, but even you may learn a few things from these pointers below.


Note: These pointers are specifically for the Green Line as that’s what you would take to get to Questrom, but some may be applicable to other lines as well.

1. Interesting peeps – some days, you will not encounter any weird folks, but my bet is that at least once a week you will see someone and think to yourself, “Um, what?” Whether it’s the old lady with black fingernails and purple hair, the middle-aged man decked out in ‘Make America Great Again’ gear, or the teenie bopper with a boombox over her shoulder blaring 90’s hip hop, all i’m saying is: Don’t be surprised.

2. Too fast too furious – most days, the speed of the trains is just fine and if they’re going too fast, you may actually appreciate it because like most millennials, we’re always running late. But when you least expect it, the train may be going really fast around a corner or it may grind to a screeching halt and you’ll fall over on top of someone and just create an awkward situation. Avoid it and make sure you are leaning properly and at just the right angle against one of the doors or grabbing on to one of the poles or security handles. Again, all that doesn’t apply if you choose to sit.

3. Timing is everything – Getting on at the right time is paramount especially during rush hours. First, during rush hours, stand to the side of the door and not in front of the door if you are in the back end of a pack trying to get on. The sides move faster. Also, once you are on, stand or sit close to the door but not too close or you’ll either keep getting pushed in as people get on or you’ll keep having to get off which poses it’s own problems. But hear is the most important thing: KNOW WHICH SIDE THE DOORS WILL OPEN ON AT THE STOP YOU GET OFF ON. I have seen people miss their stop. No bueno.


4. Know your alphabet – If you can get on the B (Boston College) line, that is ideal as that can drop you off right at Blandford Street which is right in front of Questrom. The key here is to remember to signal that you’ll be getting off or they may skip your stop if it’s an express train (really annoying, I know). C (Cleveland Circle) and D (Riverside) lines are fine too but you have to remember to get off at Kenmore and walk a short distance to Questrom. If you miss Kenmore, you will hate yourself. Just believe me. Oh and lastly, don’t you dare get on the E (Heath Street) train.

5. It takes everyone out to the ball game – The baseball season includes 81 home games, meaning there are a lot of days during the school year (and in the summer as well) when there are Red Sox games. The main stop for Red Sox game goers to get off at is Kenmore. Needless to say, all of these trains (B, C, and D) get packed. No tip here– just an FYI that you may want to check the Red Sox schedule so you know what’s coming.

6. Precipitation – Just a quick pro tip: give yourself an extra 20 minutes or so if you are taking the T while it’s raining, snowing, or if there is just a lot of precipitation on the ground. Better to be safe than sorry, right? Sometimes, there will be breakdowns. Best to keep track of those by following the MBTA or other T-related accounts on Twitter and getting real-time updates.


Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for BU Today

7. But there has to be another way! – There is! Hubway is amazing if you live and/or work in the city and are able and willing to bike around town. There is a bike rack right next to the Kenmore stop and there are more racks all over Boston and Cambridge. Give it a shot once and I can promise you that you’ll love it. This is my preferred mode of transportation to get to and from work as I live in East Cambridge and work in Boston.

In all seriousness, the ‘T’ isn’t THAT bad. Most days it functions just fine, but if you aren’t prepared, you’ll fall into an abyss. And you may never be able to find your way out…


Post Featured Image: by Trenten Kelley via Flickr


One thought on “Navigating the Mystery of the MBTA

  1. Pingback: How to Park in Boston and Keep Your Sanity | PEMBAstonian

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