I am a firm believer in public transportation. Despite owning a car, I’ve been riding the 57 bus from Brighton Center to Watertown and back home for almost two years. However, there are many days when I question my enthusiasm for environmentally friendly transportation alternatives. Today, after again waiting for an inordinate amount of time on my return ride, I decided to calculate (roughly) how many extra minutes and hours of my life have been spent waiting for the 57 bus.

I’m no math whiz. But given that on average that I wait about 10-15 minutes for a bus that’s supposed to come every 5-10–on many occasions I’ve waited upwards of half an hour–and factoring in weekends and vacation, I estimate I’ve spent about 10,000 minutes, or 166 hours, or 6.9 days waiting for that damn bus. That is a lot of time I could be doing other things.

It’s fair to say that if I were driving, I might sit in traffic some similar amount of time. However, I have driven to work on a few occasions and 1) the door-to-door trip usually only takes a total of 10 minutes and 2) if there is traffic, I find it generally does not border on the absurdity of the 57 bus.

Take this morning for example. As I rounded the corner of my street to meet a friend for tea before work, I looked over to see three 57s barrelling toward me. So tempted was I by the sight of a 57 actually arriving on time, I almost suggested cancelling coffee with my friend–or at least changing venues–so that we could take advantage of the approaching buses. But then I paused. Three 57s? Three? All butting up against one another? This from a bus route where they are supposed to be spaced 5-10 minutes apart. Good luck to anyone arriving after that trio passed. There probably wouldn’t be another bus for at least half an hour. And then, perhaps the most absurd, none of them stopped at the set bus stop–despite the fact that several people stood waiting.

It was a brilliant example of my daily frustration. Poorly timed buses, that then, in their rush to separate from one another and create spacing, actually pass waiting travelers. Bravo MBTA! Another stellar example of quality programming.

Realizing that there wouldn’t be another bus for half an hour, my friend and I decided to just enjoy our tea. And sure enough, as we emerged half an hour later, a 57 was perfectly arriving at the bus stop as we walked up–the only one to arrive since the previous three.

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