The Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Red Line

It's rush hour. Do you know where your driver is?

Welcome to the Curmudgeon’s Guide to the MBTA, where we examine the bane of your Boston existence, one line at a time.

mbta red line

Photo by Margaret Burdge

The Red Line was the last of the MBTA’s four original subway lines to come into existence—so even from the start, there was a delay.

World-renowned Ouija board expert Robert Murch said he’s more afraid of taking the Red Line than whatever lurks in the paranormal realm. But it’s not all bad—between Charles/MGH and Kendall, the Red Line offers breathtaking views of the Charles River through the tarp lining the Longfellow Bridge, still aiming for a hard deadline of 2078 to finish up those repairs. Trains generally move along at a decent clip, and even faster when one takes off without its driver, or when riders aren’t kicking out the windows.

The Stops

Recreate your favorite passage from Dante’s Inferno and take an impossibly long, slow escalator a few thousand feet to the depths of Porter Square, home of the T’s two most uninspired pieces of public art: Dystopian Boat Motor and Perchance, Gloves?

Or take in some more fine art over in Southie. The pillars at Broadway are ornamented with ceramic tiles by local schoolchildren, one of which depicts “NBA slam duck [sic] champion” Dee Brown. Outside, watch identical luxury condos and boutique juice bars rise over the concrete graves of Sully “The Goiter” O’Neil and Brian “Moist Heaps” Callahan, just like Gangs of New York.

The Characters

Harvard undergrads loudly quoting Rimbaud, parkour experts, the Davis Square FlufferTrump supporters, Waldo, Stroller Cat.

The Bright Side

Both Harvard and Park Street attract some of the T’s best buskers, like Saxophone Guy, Vivian Luo of “Hotline Bling” violin cover fame, and Somerville’s own Dan Blakeslee. During the snowiest winter in Boston history, the MBTA cleared the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line using a jet-engine powered snow blower, affectionately named “Snowzilla,” which we can only assume plays a Finnish death metal MIDI as it goes about it work.

The Andrew stop (and square) was named after John Albion Andrew, the 25th governor of Massachusetts, who not only vehemently opposed slavery and provided legal aid to radical abolitionist John Brown following his raid on Harpers Ferry, but was none too fond of Prohibition either—a sterling 2-for-2 on the right side of history.

Furthermore, Downtown Crossing often smells like roasted nuts, and “Alewife” is fun to say.

*ahem* Alewife.

Let’s see what the people are saying: