Me, Myself, and the MBTA: A Flyby Writer’s Guide to the T

By Thomas W. Franck

As a student at Harvard you’ve definitely heard that you need to burst the bubble, and the easiest way to do that is by taking the T into Boston. Still, it’s possible to get through your four years at Harvard without ever setting foot on anything but the Red Line. But there is a whole rainbow of trains operated by the MBTA, each with their own character and unique metallic screeching noise. So to save you the energy (and the transit fare), we decided to embark on an adventure to find out what each line of the T is really about.

The Red Line

If you’re a Harvard student and you’ve taken the T before, you’ve almost definitely been on the Red Line. It’s our gateway into Boston and beyond, and it creates a nice little ground shake under Wigglesworth. The Red Line is convenient and tends to serve its purpose, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t throw a few surprises your way. On any given weekend, it’s bound to only be running half the time. Sometimes it just stops for a few minutes, and you’ll never find out why. Bonus points because we saw a man going to town on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while the train crossed over the Charles.

The Green Line

The first time we ever got on the Green Line we were confused: is it a train? A trolley? Both? When you get on at Park Street (having taken the Red Line into the city) things seem vaguely normal, but a few stops later you’re above ground and nothing makes sense anymore. There are cars driving right next to you and pedestrians crossing the tracks. And sometimes when you get on you don’t even have to pay. If we had to put a label on it, we’d say the Green Line is a little ~chaotic~.

The Orange Line

If you think the Red Line looks like it’s been around for far too long, then you clearly haven’t been on the Orange Line. The Orange Line looks like it never left the 1950s and goes about as fast as you would expect for something over 70 years old. In addition to the retro energy (seats with wood paneling??), there’s also a massive turn after Downtown Crossing that had us wondering if the whole train was about to flip over.

The Blue Line

The Blue Line just kind of exists. It’s like that new mall in your city that’s been “opening soon” for years — it looks cool, but that’s about it. The Blue Line will take you to the beach, but given that most of the time, the thought of going swimming in Boston is a nonstarter, we’ve decided that the Blue Line doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

The Silver Line

Can someone please explain to us why the Silver Line is part of the train system?????? It’s fully a bus. The first time we ever got on the Silver Line we had to triple check that it wasn’t actually a normal bus. Sure, it’s helpful if you’re trying to get to the airport or…the airport, but it’s just not a train and we’re never getting over that. However, bonus points for being partially electric.

Sure, the T is a little ~quirky~. But it’s here, and it’s convenient. We’re pretty lucky to have (mostly) reliable public transportation, and that’s on that.

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