Trans-frustration: One Boston native’s experience on public transit

Tiffany Egbuonu

As I sit on the crowded 32 bus for my usual 50-minute-plus journey to get to work, I find myself wondering why no one seems to care that people who ride these buses regularly have to squeeze together as if trying to fit into a human sardine can.

MBTA buses.

The 32, which is almost always packed, worsens traffic on the already congested Hyde Park Avenue. It runs from Wolcott Square in Hyde Park, through Roslindale, to Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain. I’ve been taking the 32 bus my entire life; I lived in Roslindale until I was thirteen, then moved to Hyde Park. However, it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve started questioning the priorities of the MBTA.

Taking the 32 bus to Forest Hills then switching to the orange line to Downtown Crossing is the most convenient way for me to get downtown, where I’ve worked for the past two summers. I could also take the 50 bus to Forest Hills, which is sometimes a longer ride than the 32. The commuter rail, which costs more than twice the amount of the subway, takes only 20 minutes to get to South Station. My other option–taking the 33 or 24 bus to Mattapan Station, then taking the trolley to Ashmont Station, then switching to the red line–requires a little more effort and virtually the same amount of time. No relief.

Many times I have watched the commuter rail speed through Hyde Park Station, breathing in the fumes it leaves behind, trying to catch my breath as I race to catch the 32, and wonder why the people of this area are still cramming into one bus when there is a train that already runs through the neighborhood.

It has become quite apparent to me that the prices for the commuter rail need to be reduced so that common folk like me can afford to take it, otherwise there needs to be an extended train system to accommodate this area. Getting anywhere in Boston through public transit usually requires taking one of the four major lines–red, blue, green, and orange–all of which can only be accessed through a long bus ride from my area.

In an economy that’s stretched thin, like ours is, people have to go to greater lengths just to provide for their basic needs. Now, more than ever, there are so many other factors affecting daily life that to add something as miniscule as transportation to the laundry list is asking way too much for the average person. So instead, many are forced to brave long uncomfortable bus rides with the hope that there is at least one person associated with the MBTA who cares about providing adequate transit for those who need it.

I also cannot help but notice that some slightly more affluent areas of Boston seem to have a far more efficient transportation system than say, Hyde Park. This can only mean that public transportation is not prioritized by areas on a need basis. Don’t let the failing economy fool you; money is still being spent on public transit, just not in logical order. Despite what the MBTA cites as their reasons, the evidence is in the actions.

Maybe when I’m in my thirties they’ll finally get around to it.

Editor’s note: Tiffany Egbuonu is a Posse Scholar and a summer intern at CLF. She is entering her sophomore year at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA.

Do you find yourself relating to Tiffany? CLF is working to bring accessible and affordable transportation to ALL people in the Boston metro area and beyond. Read more about CLF’s public transit work  here.

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20 Responses to “Trans-frustration: One Boston native’s experience on public transit”

  1. The last time the MBTA raised fares, they gave a huge break to city bus and subway riders. The old combo pass was over $70, and even with a large fare increase taking effect, the new passes dropped to under $60. Also transfers are now allowed on Charlie Cards. You used to pay a separate bus and subway fare.

    So be careful what you ask for. In the next fare increase, commuter rail Zone 1 fares probably will be closer to the bus/subway combo fare. But that will be because bus/subway riders will pay more, not because rail fares will drop.

    • Tiffany Egbuonu

      Either way, there are inequalities when it comes to good accessible transportation in parts of Boston. The point of this article is not so much as to convince anyone that commuter rail prices need to be lowered right this moment-it’s to point out that the MBTA does not properly prioritize its projects. The need for better public transportation in certain areas of Boston are long overdue and need to be addressed-whether that includes lowering prices for the commuter rail or not.

  2. The last time the MBTA raised fares, they gave a huge break to city bus and subway riders. The old combo pass was over $70, and even with a large fare increase taking effect, the new passes dropped to under $60. Also transfers are now allowed on Charlie Cards. You used to pay a separate bus and subway fare.

    So be careful what you ask for. In the next fare increase, commuter rail Zone 1 fares probably will be closer to the bus/subway combo fare. But that will be because bus/subway riders will pay more, not because rail fares will drop.

    • Tiffany Egbuonu

      Either way, there are inequalities when it comes to good accessible transportation in parts of Boston. The point of this article is not so much as to convince anyone that commuter rail prices need to be lowered right this moment-it’s to point out that the MBTA does not properly prioritize its projects. The need for better public transportation in certain areas of Boston are long overdue and need to be addressed-whether that includes lowering prices for the commuter rail or not.

  3. The last time the MBTA raised fares, they gave a huge break to city bus and subway riders. The old combo pass was over $70, and even with a large fare increase taking effect, the new passes dropped to under $60. Also transfers are now allowed on Charlie Cards. You used to pay a separate bus and subway fare.

    So be careful what you ask for. In the next fare increase, commuter rail Zone 1 fares probably will be closer to the bus/subway combo fare. But that will be because bus/subway riders will pay more, not because rail fares will drop.

    • Tiffany Egbuonu

      Either way, there are inequalities when it comes to good accessible transportation in parts of Boston. The point of this article is not so much as to convince anyone that commuter rail prices need to be lowered right this moment-it’s to point out that the MBTA does not properly prioritize its projects. The need for better public transportation in certain areas of Boston are long overdue and need to be addressed-whether that includes lowering prices for the commuter rail or not.

  4. The last time the MBTA raised fares, they gave a huge break to city bus and subway riders. The old combo pass was over $70, and even with a large fare increase taking effect, the new passes dropped to under $60. Also transfers are now allowed on Charlie Cards. You used to pay a separate bus and subway fare.

    So be careful what you ask for. In the next fare increase, commuter rail Zone 1 fares probably will be closer to the bus/subway combo fare. But that will be because bus/subway riders will pay more, not because rail fares will drop.

    • Tiffany Egbuonu

      Either way, there are inequalities when it comes to good accessible transportation in parts of Boston. The point of this article is not so much as to convince anyone that commuter rail prices need to be lowered right this moment-it’s to point out that the MBTA does not properly prioritize its projects. The need for better public transportation in certain areas of Boston are long overdue and need to be addressed-whether that includes lowering prices for the commuter rail or not.

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