Despite What You Think, It’s Hotter Outside Than Riding the MBTA
It’s hot outside. Real hot. In fact, the weather was so warm on Wednesday that it put Boston in its third consecutive heat wave this summer season, prompting city officials to offer up ways for residents to try and combat the extreme heat, with free ice cream and dance parties in the sprinklers (yes, the latter really happened).
Beneath the streets, where the sun isn’t shining, sweaty and sultry MBTA riders have been bemoaning the transportation agency, cursing that they don’t do enough to keep passengers cooled-off while waiting to catch a ride to or from work during their commute:
— Jared (@JaredMay76) July 15, 2013
But despite what some riders think, it is actually cooler underground—with the hot trains standing by on platforms and people shoving to get through to grab a seat—than it is outside of certain MBTA stations. “I’m assuming it is way hotter upstairs,” said William O’Keefe, a busker that performs at South Station for three hours at a time during the hottest parts of the day. “A cool breeze sweeps through here once and awhile when the trains arrive. But it can still be pretty hot down here.”
Aside from the train-made moments of relief that come with a gush of warm air as a vehicle arrives, the MBTA also sets up giant fans at all of their stations, and ties to make sure any train that doesn’t having working air conditioning is quickly taken out of service and repaired. “If the air conditioning unit on a vehicle is not functioning properly, the vehicle is taken out of service. It is not returned to service until the issue has been remedied,” said T Spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
To test just how hot certain MBTA stations and stops were, however, a Boston reporter set out to some of the busier locations along the Red Line, and also where public transportation connects to the Green and Orange Line trains, to compare the temperatures from outside to that of underground:
Outside of Porter Square, as the sun came beating down on commuters scurrying into the station, temperatures were just above 90 degrees.
Deep, deep down in the depths of Porter Station, which takes multiple flights of stairs (or escalators during a heatwave) just to get to the platform to grab the train, it was the coolest spot of all, dipping just above 80 degrees.
At Park Street, holding the thermometer in the direct sunlight, temperatures quickly climbed above 95 degrees.
At the Park Street Station platform, which was the hottest of all the stations that we visited, the temperature dropped once inside, but not by much. It was around 92 degrees down there, and certainly packed with the most passengers.
By midday, outside of Downtown Crossing, temperatures were around 94 degrees and stayed that way despite taking a break and the spot for a long amount of time.
At the last destination, South Station, there wasn’t much of a shift above ground, with the temperature coming in at just about 95 degrees at Dewey Square.
Down below, it was cooler than most other stations, with more frequent vehicles rushing through, and the space less confined than the other train stops. The temperature was 92 degrees.