MBTA Buses: Not So Bad

1221837101We have a love-hate relationship with the MBTA buses. For every Mike who sees us safely home through a snowstorm, there’s a customer service representative who can’t tell us when to expect our very tardy ride.

But on most days, our bus experience is OK. And today, the Herald gives us numbers that back that up. While complaints about the T are up, issues with the bus grew the least.

Figures published in the tabloid show that rider complaints are up about 13 percent. Considering that ridership rose 10 percent between July 2007 and July 2008, largely because people who are used to commuting in the solitude of their cars switched to public transit, it’s not actually that bad.

Twenty-five percent more riders griped about the subway, but the issues with the bus were up only 7.77 percent. When you break down the number of bus complaints down further, the majority of them are about the service, which we can testify does suck mightily. (Ask us about the CT-1 this week, but be forewarned that our response will not be appropriate for children.)

The employees were the second-biggest issue for bus riders, and they earned more complaints than the staffers on the commuter rail and subway. But bus drivers also interact more with riders than train conductors. In our experience, we’ve seen many drivers who are happy to direct bus neophytes, and chat with the old people who are desperate for someone to talk to.

Sure, there are drivers who love to shout expletives and drive like maniacs. But we’ll take them over the Orange Line conductors who shout the mantra “MOVE AWAY FROM THE DOORS THE DOORS ARE CLOSING. MOVEAWAYFROMTHEDOORS, THEDOORSARECLOSING. MOVE.AWAY.FROM.THE.DOORS” while we’re trying to decompress for the evening.

So, carry on all you bus strap hangers. It’s not great, but it could be worse. Maybe that should be the MBTA’s new slogan.

Photo from MBTA.com