Diary of a Semi-Part-Time T Rider

In Boston, the transit system is consistently ranked as one of the best in the country among New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington D.C. It’s so wonderful to live in a place where public transportation is so easily accessible. As someone who was used to driving everywhere in Texas, it is a refreshing change to be able to walk or ride most places, especially since I cannot drive in Boston.

Disclaimer: I say I cannot drive because I really have not figured out the Boston rules of the road — and frankly, they are so aggressive that I’m uncomfortable just learning on the job.

In any case, I’ve become a fairly regular bus and train rider. As I was commuting into my office last week, it hit me that there is an unspoken code on the bus and train that can take a while to interpret. Here’s an initial breakdown of some of this code (based on my own experience):

  1. Don’t talk to strangers (or really make eye contact) unless you have to*
  2. Lose any notion you have of personal space.
  3. Give yourself at least 10-15 minutes of wiggle time when trying to end up at a destination at a specific time.
  4. If it doesn’t look like you can fit on the train, you probably can’t but others will try. In that case, see number 2.
  5. Be prepared to give up your seat for seniors, those with disabilities or injuries or children.
  6. Wait until you’re off the bus or train to make your call.
  7. Bring a book or grab the Metro — you never know if there will be delays.
  8. Always carry some cash — in case your forget your T pass or run low on the amount.

*This is based on personal experience — as someone that grew up in the South, I’m accustomed to starting a conversation with strangers about the weather, how’s UT going to do today, I heard you mention xyz and I just ate there or visited, etc. Let’s just say it’s a Southern charm/hospitality thing. Not necessarily an acceptable practice on the T in Boston.

I’m sure there are plenty more but these are a good start. Honestly with so many people using public transportation in Boston, you never really know what your fellow passengers are dealing with from a personal or professional level. Once you force everyone into a small space together, things can get a bit stressful and frustrating. It’s important though to try to take things with a grain of salt — and when riding the T, remember the above rules.

Do you have others that should be added to this list? Add them to the comments section below.

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