This week, the Bruins will face the Washington Capitals in the first step of what most of New England hopes will result in a second-straight Stanley Cup. In both cities, thousands of fans will use transit to each game. As a recent transplant to Greater Boston from the DC area, I think it might be good to compare and contrast The T to WMATA, operators of the much-beloved (outside of its own city) Metrorail system.
|WMATA (Metro Rail)|
In Boston, North Station will sort through the fans on its oversized inbound platform and larger-than-normal outbound platform, built after TD Garden came to be. There’s plenty of room for fans to spread out.
Boston: Green Line passengers sometimes have to run to catch their train if they don’t know the platform stops.
DC: Shady Grove-bound passengers on the Red Line have to run to catch their train unless it’s the elusive-outside-of-rush-hour 8-car trains. Manual operation of trains post-2009 Fort Totten crash and the awkward setup of Gallery Place where the transfer point is at the far north end of the platform equals having to run up to 100 feet to get to the end of a train.
Boston: Going to the game, $1.70 for CharlieCard, $2.00 CharlieTicket or Cash.
DC: A complicated mess that even locals are confused by. WMATA is the only agency whose rail fares are both distance and time-of-day based with the maximum fare being $5.00 not counting the 25-cent paper farecard surcharge or the 20-cent peak-of-the-peak surcharge if you arrive before 6:00. And yet Boston nearly revolted over an extra nickel...
Boston: Coming home from the game, same fares and fairly decent service post-game.
DC: While the fares become more reasonable ($1.60/$2.15/$2.70), service often becomes spotty as evening trackwork has become regular and train times often aren’t adjusted. Cases of waits of up to 20 minutes for a train post-game are not that unusual.
Boston: The Bruins host Game 2 and if necessary Game 5 on weekends. No major trackwork on any MBTA modes are planned and fans will also trickle in as always via Commuter Rail.
DC: The Capitals are set to host Game 6 if necessary the day after Game 5 (only with the Caps...). On that weekend, the Red and Blue Lines will be split in two and that doesn’t include single-tracking. Though not under WMATA’s jurisdiction, weekend commuter rail is nonexistent in the DC area.
Boston: Rolling Stock of Shame going through North Station: the 01200’s who are crying for retirement. Toss in the worst-off Type 7’s for good measure
DC: Rolling Stock of Shame going through Gallery Place: the 1000’s. A car whose flaws have killed people including nine in the Fort Totten crash. The tired 4000’s are an honorable mention.
Going outside of North Station:
Boston: $59 for all you can ride, $70 come July.
DC: No monthly pass. Buying four 7-day rail passes and four 7-day bus passes will set you back $248. Savvy commuters will buy the cheapest MARC TLC option at a slightly cheaper $203/month.
Boston: Subject to a state with some anti-Boston bias outside 495 and a state government that takes them for granted as seen by Governor Patrick’s recent aloofness.
DC: Subject to three jurisdictions that hate each others guts. DC’s overburdened doing double duty, Virginia resents their DC suburbs, and Maryland resents their DC suburbs for daring to be anti-Baltimore. And don’t forget that Virginia and Maryland never really got over the War Between the States.
Boston: Dedicated funding via the flawed “forward funding” sales tax receipt system. It’s flawed and backfires in economic downturns, but...
DC: Has to beg and grovel to two indifferent state legislatures and the Federal Government, all of which underfund the system.
Boston: @MBTAGM is a pioneering feed where customer concerns are addressed, sometimes by Acting GM Davis. The MBTA Police have a twitter of their own though sometimes accidents happen.
DC: WMATA dragged their heels to the game then turned their feed into a circus where customer praise comes before service alerts.
Boston: The assortment of MBTA unions do a good job for the most part. The number of times they were blamed for the recent state of affairs could be counted on one hand.
DC: Want to turn against organized labor and scream? Search “ATU 689” on Twitter.
Boston: Last in a breed using hard plastic seats and touch tape on buses when most agencies have migrated to plush inserts and reverted to pull cords.
DC: Comfy seats that Bostonians would envy but at some times unnecessary frills. $17,000 in unnecessary styling times 310 buses equals...
What happens on the ice remains to be seen, however it already seems like Boston has won the battle in transit.