I recently bought a bicycle. I decided on Sunday to ride it from Providence to Boston. Awesome. After a series of misadventures preparing for the ride — including a 40-minute late MBCR train to my starting destination — I was a little short of daylight, but still optimistic.
So at about 8 p.m., here’s the situation: I’m crossing Route 128 on the Westwood/Dedham border and I know I’ve got only about 15-minutes of daylight left to get where I need to go … but my destination (on the T system) still is about 45 minutes away. Ideally, I’d go to the nearest MBTA station stop, right? So which stop to I choose? West Roxbury Station on the Needham line? Forest Hills station on the Orange Line? Chestnut Hill station on the Green Line? Readville Station on the Franklin Line? Find a bus?
I go for the familiar, frequent Green Line service, right? The Needham line doesn’t run on Sunday, parts of the neighborhood around Forest Hills can be tough after dark, and who knows when a bus or a Readville train will come bounding down the tracks. Right? Bicycles, carriages, bulky luggage — all the same, right? Equally welcome.
Wrong! Sunday night isn’t exactly a busy time on at Chestnut Hill station. The parking lot is empty, and so are the inbound trains. But don’t take the ample space on the trolleys and lack of posted guidance as indications that you and your bicycle are welcome. We weren’t. It doesn’t matter if it’s dark and you have no lights on your bike; if you’re stranded; if you have money burning a hole in your pocket; if the train is completely empty. All irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that at some point in the gauzy past some MBTA administrator convinced all of the Green Line drivers that they would be fired if they allowed anyone onto the the trolley with anything resembling a bike. Ever.
This may be the stupidest MBTA policy yet. I completely understand that my bicycle takes up space. On the foolishly slow MBCR train I rode to the start of my bike ride, my bicycle and I occupied four seats (the three bikes on the train occupied six seats total). Would I object to paying for some of those seats? Not really; I’d pay, probably a premium, and particularly if it guaranteed me the ability to transport the bike onto the train (apparently you can be denied boarding if more than six bikes are on the train!). Would I have done the same on the Green line? Certainly. I was tired enough I practically would have handed the MBTA my entire wallet.
But they didn’t want my money. They wanted to run their empty train into Boston instead.