Perhaps it was my rant against the 57 on Monday, but for some reason, as luck would have it, for two days in a row (Monday night and Tuesday night), I stared longingly at a 57 bus across the Watertown intersection only to have it pull out and not pick me up.

It’s basically an emotional rollercoaster. I cross the Charles River bridge and can see the yellow markings of the bus with the 57 in lights across the top. Elation! I’m just in time! I jog to the curbside to await the light changes. I watch others across the intersection slowly filing onto the bus, swiping their Charlie cards, or carefully counting out change. Perfect! People are still loading. Then I wait. I shift from foot to foot anxiously staring at the swirling traffic as it haltingly moves and honks and shifts through the intersection. Can I go now? Can I cross? I put a foot into the street. A car whizzes by snapping me back onto the safety of the curb. I glance at the bus yard—no other waiting buses. I glance up the street to see whether any buses are approaching the bus yard from the opposite direction signaling that even if I miss this bus, another one will swing around soon. Nothing. Now my elation turns to angst.

Can I cross the street? When will these lights change?! Avoiding a right-on-red car, I make my way partly through the intersection…maybe I’ll make it! I wait. I wonder why there are so many people on the bus. It can only mean one of two things: 1) there has not been a bus I a long time so that means there might be another soon even if I miss this one or 2) there hasn’t been a bus in a long time and that means there probably won’t be another one soon because the schedule is messed up.

The lights switch and I bound across the intersection, freed by the solid white walking man. Yes! I can make it. But then I hear the shifting breaks and gears of the bus and see it rumbling forward from Watertown Yard. No! Seriously?

I’m three feet in front of the bus as the driver distinctly avoids looking at me and turns out onto the street—refusing to acknowledge my attempt at a stare-down or my frantically waving hands. Utter dejection.

I glance at my watch. Five till six, near to the time on Monday night when I waited more than half an hour after watching a bus pull out as I was trying to cross the intersection. That night I watched nine other buses (not 57s) pull out through the yard while I waited—including three 57s that pulled into the bus yard with passengers, but exited with ‘Out of Service’ signs.

As my friend Neal wrote to me yesterday, “What’s the point of having public transit if it completely sucks? ([My girlfriend] keeps writing to the T to complain, and they just send her a free token—which is pretty lousy if the bus won’t even stop to let her on!).”

And perhaps the frustrating thing is that the bus drivers are all pretty nice people. I like to think it’s not that they intentionally don’t pick people up or mess up the schedule. I understand they don’t have control over the lights, or traffic, or buses breaking down.

However, I question why there is not some way of figuring this out. Why are other cities able to get their public transportation working in a way that benefits the public but Boston is not? Until that question is answered, I guess I’ll just continue to face the emotional ups and downs of my favorite, ridiculous 57 bus—but I may need to do some zen breathing this morning before I walk out the door.
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