Honest Advice for College Students

teacher.jpgYesterday, we began our series on advice for the college students who will soon inundate Boston like water in the Tip O’Neill Tunnel when the pumps are down. This morning, we’ll review proper etiquette for public transit. Put this on your Facebook, kids—they don’t tell you this stuff at MIT orientation.

Part II: Navigating the T

Our public transit system is just as confusing as our streets. The MBTA is America’s oldest subway system, and its age shows since the agency is the most indebted transit organization in the country. MBTA employees are generally surly (despite their nice pension), trains are infuriatingly non-scheduled and, most importantly, we all have to deal with it because it’s all we’ve got.

Here are the must-follow rules of riding the T:

Get a Charlie Card or buy a ticket: This mainly applies to the Green Line and buses, but, please, just stick your ticket in the fare collector on the train instead of fumbling for crinkled dollar bills. It’s cheaper if you buy in advance. You can buy commuter rail tickets at the fare vending machines, but keep in mind that the machines give change in Sacajawea dollars, so use small bills.

Move into the train: We can’t stress this enough. No one cares that you’re perfectly-positioned to talk to your crush. The back of the train is not some black hole that will suck you back to your parent’s house in New Jersey. Embrace the back of the train.

Take off that backpack: Crowded trains are the norm around here (no thanks to the likes of you), and personal space is limited. But that giant backpack you’re wearing is less a container of higher education then it is a loaded weapon. Kindly remove it and hold it by your legs. If you don’t, you may get kneed in the groin.

Give your seat to someone who needs it: Some days, you may get a seat on the train. Congratulations. Most days, you’ll be able to remain seated until you reach your destination. However, if an elderly/pregnant/handicapped/very young person gets on the train, don’t pretend like you don’t see them. Get up and give them your seat, no matter how hungover you are. If you’re lucky, they may just thank you for your kindness.
Use your indoor voice: No, the T isn’t church. But despite what you may believe, not everyone on the train cares about how drunk you were last night, or how hot that guy in British Lit. is, or your preferred method of birth control. Oh, and we’d rather not have to listen to whatever crap song you downloaded on iTunes last night either.

When using a cell phone, proceed with caution: The T is not an extension of your dorm room. Don’t try out new ringtones, for the love of God don’t use your walkie-talkie function, and keep your voice down (see above note).

Behave yourself even on the late trains: Some people don’t work the nine-to-five shift, and they don’t want to see you swinging from the support bars after they get out of work. You’re not the only ones out late– save your drunken antics until you’re back on campus.

Tomorrow: Going out.