An Open Letter to the MBTA

O Hai There MBTA.


Look at the people around you.  There’s bound to be loads; your stations are perennially packed because your trains are always delayed! But anyway – look around you.

How many of those people do you think have showered today?

How many of them do you think have bothered to wash their hands? (hint: look at their fingernails)

Some of them probably have questionable stains on their clothes. Do you know what they might be? What if you can’t identify the stain? Do you assume the worst (i.e. wrestling with a corpse atop a giant cowpat on the Equator)…? How many of them do you think have brushed past their toxic cat litter box or a foul-smelling dumpster and haven’t bothered to clean the residue off their clothes?

These are the terrifying thoughts that go through my head on a daily basis.

Imagine, then, how downright mysophobia-triggering it was for me to arrive at North Station on Tuesday (and Wednesday and probably fucking later today) to this:


5:27pm, and a bunch of trains leaving in three minutes still hadn’t been announced yet. The station was packed. I can only imagine what Morlock-like sensibilities you were suffocating into the T-dwellers with underground with the delays that went on there, too.

So at 5:29pm, you finally announced my train (leaving in one minute), switching the passenger call status to “ALL ABOARD”:

Train board LED words: ALL ABOARD


The usual throng of angry passengers (most of whom I recognize as daily commuters) heaved its way onto the platform, blocking a few people from actually exiting the train into North Station. But then, (oh, you clever MBTA, you) they start to announce two other trains – ALSO leaving in exactly one minute.

Can you imagine what happened?


Nope, I don’t think you can. Let me describe it for you: heaving, pushing, shoving crowds of sweaty, smelly, filthy slobs, all trying to get to the two middle platforms, blocking and/or pushing the other groups of people trying to get to the platform on the far end. A platform whose train will be leaving any minute now, without you. So what do you do?

  1. Push through the crowd like Moses parting the motherfucking Red Sea of Bitches
  2. Cry and submit – let the crowd sweep you to your inevitable, yet mysterious, destination
  3.  Jump over benches and people (as well as benches with people on them) to get to a less crowded area
  4. All of the above

Yep, all of these things actually happened. I lost count of the number of frightened elderly people, confused disabled (including blind) passengers, and utterly terrified babies/children as those crowds were SWAMPING the platforms and blocking the doors like steroid zombie jocks.

It was absolutely appalling. I have taken trains in a lot of countries and not once have I seen the kind of crowd behaviour and lackadaisical attitude to passenger safety as I did that day. It fucking enraged me, particularly in regards to the recent fare hikes/fee hikes/service cuts. What on EARTH is the excuse for such fuckery? How can these hikes and cuts be justified in any way when people’s SAFETY is at risk??

I’ve seen better crowd control than that time a two-storey fire broke up a moshpit full of angry, drunken Wednesday 13 fans. I, along with many, many other scared morons, was squeezed into the mob of people scrambling frantically to get to the train, being pressed and squeezed and left gasping for air because I could not even see where I was going. Even for a non-mysophobe (i.e. a hippie), it’s still an extremely unpleasant experience.

As the crowd finally spread out a little, I felt air and saw sky again, and as I felt the clotted sweat on my arms,  I wondered, minutes later, whether or not the sensation of someone’s cold gross sweat was actually deadened nerves from having my upper extremities  shoehorned under the clammy man-tits of one of the fetid troglodytes next to me.

I was furious. Seething. Not just for myself, but for everyone who felt like they had to endure and/or perpetrate such uncivilized brutishness to get to their precious train. The whole ride home I was grateful that, for once, the air conditioning actually fucking worked on the train, because it cooled me down somewhat; needless to say, it’s not a great idea for a woman of South Asian descent sitting on American public transport looking very very angry.

A list of things the MBTA can do and then STFU or DIAF:

  1. Start giving people their money’s worth by working to improve services instead of holding meetings about the fare hikes just to rub them in commuters’ faces instead of using said meetings as constructive forums
  2. That’s it

How many times have you been standing on a hot T platform, waiting for a train that is already 5 minutes late,  only to be told via Charlie Brown’s teacher‘s communal reject evil twin over the tannoy that the train is experiencing signal problems. Or waiting at a bus along with more criminally-foreheaded living abortions only to find out (through the barely competent driver) that the bus was delayed due to traffic? Or, as in the case of Salem Station, standing in wait, completely unsheltered from the elements  – great job aligning the tracks so that rush-hour morning commuters have to stare into the sun ..?

My guess is never, at least, not since you were students, and probably not before then, either. The lot of you in charge would probably never risk travelling via MBTA caskets of hell. As commuters, every day we trample the weak and the elderly to elbow our way onto a train that’s already late. We suffer the stench of the entire belly of the train car, wondering if someone has actually gone onto each seat and shat on it, or if the toilets just haven’t been cleaned since the train was first forged by Emmett Brown in 1885.

Then when it’s time to get off (shut up), we jump up from our seats mid-journey to race to the coveted front spot of the queue, and Odin help you if you’re wearing a skirt (which none of you probably do, unless you’re posing for blackmail photos), because you then have to stand like a stripper squatting out a baby in order to keep from careening into other passengers when the train tilts and bangs and whirrs and huffs and puffs its way to a stop.


I saw your “Meet the Managers” day at Salem station a few weeks back and it was a mewling farce. Absolutely no-one wanted to miss their train (which was late enough anyway) to stand around and chat with you about things you had zero interest in changing. In fact, you were stood around the bin like tramps talking to each other, as every single rush-hour commuter inched past your inconsiderate arses while you were blocking the walkway. And to make matters even more insulting, the “coffee” you provided was from Dunkin’ Donuts, which is about a vomit-covered step  (a common sight on the MBTA) down from boxed wine that’s been left down the back of a fuzzy radiator. When I asked the conductor on Tuesday who to start complaining to, she pointed to a man lounging in what looked like a beach chair, who waved at me with a massive shit-eating grin on his face.

You all, all of you, disgust me to no end, and you are by far a laughing stock compared to the rest of the world. For a country who is only just getting to grips with providing minimum adequate measures for the disabled, I shudder to think of Amtrak’s recent proposal of high-speed trains, which, considering that you’ve only just provided this newfangled Wie Fiey onboard, must seem like some sort of communist witchcraft to you. Might I suggest that you master the art of keeping the train upright on the tracks before you start souping them up to play catch-up with the rest of civilized society?

My parents grew up in India, and when I tell them about the poor conditions, schedules and general service of the train, even they think it’s disgusting. Please take a minute to educate yourself on India’s trains if it’s not terribly clear. It’s one thing to complain with a sense of entitlement, but it’s another to voice gripes about genuine safety and health issues where the public’s well-being is concerned. In my opinion, there is a line. And by causing that mob mentality at North Station, that line has been crossed.

To keep track of my various MBTA-related gripes, I had kept a running memo on my phone called “Why the MBTA are a bunch of bastards”. I do not foresee having to delete it any time soon.


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