Crowded Platform


South Station Red Line, Evening Rush Hour

What does a crowded platform mean?  Is it a sign of success or a sign of failure?  When the MBTA compiles its ridership statistics, do they record the situation in the picture to the right as a roaring success?  Do they simply say “there were like a thousand people who boarded that train at South Station during the evening rush hour; hooray?”

There isn’t really any question in my mind how the patrons standing on the platform would have answered the question.  When you get down to it, there really isn’t much difference between sucking tailpipe emissions on Storrow Drive and becoming better-acquainted than you’d like with strangers on the subway.  Probably the main difference is scenery; there’s no advertising on Storrow Drive.

The T doesn’t usually give live feedback, but on the day of the picture the train driver gave passengers who boarded from the very crowded platform an unusually syrupy-sweet send off.  She knew the crowded platform was trouble.  But when the transit scribes meticulously record the events of the day, how will they see it?  I wonder.