What intrigues me is the silence of the lambs, otherwise known as fellow T riders.
On Tuesday around 5 p.m., the State Street station was packed with commuters unable to squeeze onto a succession of crammed trains that rattled slowly up and then screeched away, as a violinist on the platform played beautiful music. Perhaps the stranded were tweeting their dismay directly to MBTA management. But there were no outward signs of rebellion. People stared passively into smart phones, texted and listened to whatever was flowing into their ear buds. I ended up walking to North Station, but the Orange Line platform was jammed there, too. When I asked the woman next to me about the air of quiet surrender, she replied: “We’re beaten down.”
Maybe resignation explains recent results from WBUR/MassINC Polling Group. A survey of 504 registered voters, completed Jan. 5 to Jan. 7, found that 45 percent of those polled said they approve of Governor Charlie Baker’s handling of the T. On the other hand, 37 percent said they didn’t know if they approved or not, which could mean a large percentage of those surveyed simply don’t use public transportation.
Jay Gonzalez, a Democrat running for governor, said that on the campaign trail, “the number one issue I hear complaints about is the T. It’s not even close.” Overcrowding and a lack of reliability are the chief gripes, said Gonzalez. To better understand the problem, he took “the pledge” suggested by a commuter who dared public officials to ride the T to work for five days in a row. After taking a different route every day, Gonzalez said, “I have learned some new things about the frustrations people have.”