Tales from Boston commuter hell - Metro US

Tales from Boston commuter hell

Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

It took Sara Swalnick about two hours Tuesday morning to make it from her Jamaica Plain home to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she works as a research administrative assistant, a trek that usually takes just half that time.

Swalnick, 29, arrived at the Jackson Square T stop to find the platform packed and “no indication when the train would be coming or whether it would be coming at all.”

She waited about 15 minutes before a train came. She was able to squeeze her way on, but dozens were left on the platform.

“We were like sardines,” she said. “And at every stop only one to two people would get off and there were 15 to 20 people trying to come through each door. It was a mess.”

She opted not to stop downtown because she was unsure if the Red Line train would ever come. Instead, she got off at North Station and walked the rest of the way.

Swalnick’shellishcommute wascommonplace around the city this morning. Significant delays, brought on by the recent spate of bad weather that caused mechanical problems, complicated commutes on subway, commuter rail and bus lines.

The state needs to throw money at the problem to make sure this stops happening, said Swalnick.

“It’s hard to call ourselves a world class city that’s capable of hosting something like the Olympics when we have horrible public transit issues like this, even on days when we don’t have a blizzard,” she said. “I have to plan my route around T notifications. It’s a daily occurrence. There always seems to be some sort of issue.”

Tony Catinella, a 28-year-old South Boston resident who works as a public relations specialist downtown, said he was waiting for a bus in Southie for an hour. He said on a good day, his commute takes 15 to 20 minutes. Tuesday, it took an hour-and-forty-five.

“It’s a big problem; there’s not enough buses coming through,” he said. “They just weren’t coming.”

Michael Essery, a 27-year-old who works in marketing downtown, had a similarly arduous journey to work.

He usually takes the B Line from the Washington Street stop near his home in Brighton all the way to Park Street, located on the Boston Common. His train, however, stopped at the last of the Boston University stops. Commuters were told the train wouldn’t be going any farther and to go to Kenmore Square, where shuttle buses would take them downtown.

The Kenmore bus terminal was packed with confused and agitated commuters, he said. Buses would roll up and it was unclear if they were Green Line shuttles or not. People started swearing at MBTA staff.

“It was like Lord of the Flies,” he said. “It was about to break out in a frenzy. I almost saw at least four fights. It was chaos. These two women were pushing each other with coffee in their hands. Each one was telling the other to relax. I almost laughed in their faces. They’re both telling each other to relax as they’re pushing one another.”

When a shuttle did finally arrive, it stopped at Copley and commuters were told it was the last stop, only to have an MBTA worker argue with the driver about where he was supposed to take the passengers. Arlington T stop, it turned out, was the final stop, not Copley. Everyone shuffled back on the bus.

“I think everyone would appreciate a little more communication and coordination on their (MBTA) part,” he said. “No one had any clue. And the fact that no one had any answers is what riled everyone up.”

He left his home around 8:15 and made it to work around 11. The trip usually takes about 45 minutes, he said.

“It was awful,” he said.

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