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The T: Bloggers are just whiny carpers

The Herald profiles bloggers who complain about the T (hmm, where have we read about that before?) and has a nice quote from T General Manager Dan Grabauskas:

If you simply wish to vent or rant, use a blog. But if you have service delivery issues that may require corrective action, then you should contact the MBTA through our immensely popular Write to the Top program.

Of course! What possible reason would T riders have to vent or rant?


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Forget about Grabauskas and his T "service." (I'm being generous when I call it that) There are plenty of other ways to get around this town if you're willing.

The most obvious way is on a bicycle. However, this comes with a whole raft of potential problems, most of which are documented here.

A way to mitigate most of those issues is with a motorized bicycle, motor scooter, or full-fledged motorcycle. You can ride with the traffic (no worrying about getting slammed by a random car door), you don't get sweaty, and you can park it anywhere on the street, free of charge. Buy a raincoat and go slowly when it rains; you'll be fine.

The downside of Vespa-like type of transportation comes in the wintertime. In my opinion, it's not safe to ride a scooter in the snow. It's too easy to lose traction and skid out of control.

That means I still haven't figured out how to avoid the T from December to March, but I'm working on it. Anybody know where I can get snow chains for my bicycle tires? :)

But why bother going to such extreme measures? Well, if you pay for a T pass each month, you're telling them that the service isn't bad enough for you to leave. You're giving your approval to the system as is. Take a stand; after the initial outlay for the scooter, every month you don't buy a T pass is money in the bank.

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What do you do when 1] it rains, 2] it snows, 3] you don't have anywere to park it?

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1. Scooters don't melt. You can leave them on the street when it's raining. If you want to keep your scooter in tip-top shape, you can throw a tarp or cover over it. They're fairly cheap (to the tune of about $20) and very portable.

2. I presume by asking what I do when it snows, you mean "What do you do with it during all the wintertime months? Does it get buried by snow plows?" Personally, I have off-street parking. As long as you live in a place with even the tiniest yard, you can stash it back there with the tarp you bought for when it rains. Yes, you should push the snow off the cover during the wintertime. For people who have absolutely no space outside their building, (i.e. people in Back Bay or the North End) maybe they can leave it at a friend's place or bring it inside. Some basements have storage areas. Don't forget- unladen, a scooter weighs only 200-225 lbs; two people should be able to get it where it needs to be. In the worst case, it could be stored in your apartment or for around $40 per month, in a self-service storage facility if your space situation is super-tight.

3. There's no such thing as having "no place to park it," at least during the non-winter months. You can stick a scooter on the street in between just about any two cars in your neighborhood. When coupled with a parking permit, you'll never have to worry about not being able to find a spot or putting money in a meter. See #2 above for what to do with it in the winter.

No, it's not a perfect solution for everyone. Nothing is. However, Boston isn't a huge city. A scooter or small motorcycle really can be a huge timesaver and convenience for those who don't like the T.

I haven't even started talking about benefits outside of commuting. You can park literally anywhere between two cars. When I'm riding around, I don't start to look for parking until I'm within sight of my destination. There's always a spot to slide it into fairly close nearby.

Gas mileage. If your scooter gets less than 50 miles to the gallon, get a tune-up. You can get as high as 80 mpg! Heck, my 20+ year old motorcycle used to get 50 mpg before I started messing with the carburetor last year. Now it's a bit less efficient, but that's my own fault :)

Convenience. How many times have you wanted or needed to get something from the store, but you didn't want to wait for the T or bus? Well, strap on your helmet and away you go! No more wondering, "Did the bus just go by? Will it show up? How long has it been since the last train came through?" This is doubly true on the weekends when the T reduces service. On occasion, I've waited over 30 minutes for the "privilege" of packing myself into an overstuffed Green Line trolley. That kind of "service" is for the birds.

The downside: some people feel they're unsafe because you don't have the cage around you that car drivers have. The way I look at it, if you're paying attention to your surroundings, you should be ok. Not only do I make myself seen with reflective gear and bright colors, but I do stuff like wave at car drivers. When you interact like that, you wake them from autopilot. That way they know you're around, and besides, it's also good karma to be nice to people. Waving, especially at children, tends to brighten people's mood. :)

I'm glad I can help; if anyone else has questions about these topics, feel free to shout them out!

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Hey, I'm all about reducing reliance on single-occupant cars. But keep in mind that not everyone is able-bodied. Even adding just a little clause to your statements that "people who are physically able to ride bikes..." or something would be more inclusive and therefore make your idea seem more realistic and thought-out.


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