This MBTA Excuse Generator Is Everything

It spits out alerts from an alternate, yet all-too-familiar, reality.

mbta excuse 2

photo illustration by Spencer Buell. MBTA photo by Meredith Foley.

Forget “signal issues” and “switch problems.” The MBTA, according to an irresistible new website that has become an immediate sensation, has bigger, more fantastical things to worry about.

Take this situation, for example, which is one of the many very important alerts that the MBTA Excuse Generator spits out:

#MBTA: #RedLine: Severe delays due to a bucket of lobsters with a secret at Charles/MGH. We are posting the next train will arrive in just 1 minute, but it’s really way more like 10.

Or this one:

#MBTA: #BlueLine: Major residual delays due to an earlier Train Event Horizon at Government Center. We honestly stopped caring right around 1996.

Or, God help us all, this one:

#MBTA: #BlueLine: Severe delays due to a busker with a permit to literally melt faces at Orient Heights. We will need some time to perform The Ritual.

The messages are designed to look just like the alerts that the MBTA blasts out to riders via tweets and on message boards at T stops, except with a bit more imagination, and more edge.

Co-creator Todd Ching, 33, of Medford, says he and a friend got the idea after a particularly bad journey on the Red Line a few weeks ago, and after years of suffering through countless less-than-helpful messages via the T’s alert system.

“Everyone who’s been on the MBTA in the past two years has horror commute stories,” Ching says. “You’ve been waiting for the T and it says it’s coming in one minute, and then 10 minutes later it finally shows up. So you see these reports that pop up on the marquee and you’re like, ‘What does that mean? That doesn’t mean anything.'”

Ching says he proposed the idea to friend and fellow Boston College alum Andrew Logan, a 33-year-old programmer. Logan wrote the code for the generator (it randomly assembles an “alert” by pulling from lists of T stations, train lines, made-up problems and made-up responses), and the two of them have spent the past couple weeks quietly emailing jokes to one another to feed into it. What if the Blue Line encountered a Tom Brady suspension hearing, they wondered, or an existential crisis, or a tear in the space-time continuum? And what if, at the same time, the people typing up all those MBTA alerts to riders were a bunch of apathetic jerks who say things like “good luck or whatever,” and “we wish to remind you that we already have your money.”

They unveiled their creation Wednesday to friends on Facebook and Reddit, and it immediately attracted tons of attention, as every good MBTA parody does. By 8 a.m. Thursday, Ching says, it had more than 3,000 hits.

“It really hit some kind of nerve,” he says, laughing.

Ching says he and Logan plan to keep updating the generator with more and more gags for as long as people stay interested. And they’re now inviting fellow commuters to come up with their own.

Well, don’t mind if we do…

More Potential MBTA Excuses

By Boston Magazine Staff

#MBTA: #RedLine: Severe delays due to a train that just wants to party. Service will be replaced with DCR golf carts.

#MBTA: #BlueLine: Imaginary delays due to sunroofs cut into money room armored vehicles. We suggest you don’t investigate this any further.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: Severe delays due to someone handing us a wild, flailing alligator on television.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: Delays due to weather of literally any kind. We suggest you invest in a helipad.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: Residual delays due to decades of underfunding and mismanagement. Regular service will resume—actually, we’re just gonna start calling this regular service at this point.

#MBTA: #RedLine: Major delays because Keytar Bear is here and we literally #can’t.

#MBTA: #BlueLine: Moderate delays at Wonderland due to sand sighting at Revere.

#MBTA: #66 Bus: Moderate delays followed by two buses in a row because FU.

#MBTA: #1 Bus: Major delays followed by two in a row plus a CT1 because no, srsly, FU.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: Major delays because oh, I’m sorry, did you want to go someplace? Yeah, we don’t do that.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: Minor delays in Brookline because Gisele posted a selfie to Instagram. STOP THE TRAIN, THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. [Fruits and Vegetables Emoji] [Portuguese Translation]

#MBTA: #RedLine: Moderate delays at Harvard because Panera closed and people are still processing.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: Major delays due to Donald Trump trying to build a wall around Allston. Buses replacing stops between Blandford and Boston College.

#MBTA: #RedLine: Residual delays from earlier debate over Marty Walsh’s cargo shorts. Blame Marty.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: Residual delays due to earlier testing of new trains created by Legoland’s Master Model Builder. #SpoilerAlert: They’re faster! #EverythingIsAwesome

#MBTA: #OrangeLine: Residual delays due to apples…like, Matt Damon asked us how we liked ‘em.

#MBTA: #RedLine: Residual delays due to a ghost train breezing through a bunch of stops without a driver. It’s funny because it really happened.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: C Line Branch terminating at Coolidge because Chipotle.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: Major delays due to Matt Damon ponytail.

#MBTA: #GreenLine: Moderate delays because yah not bettah than me and the T is here to remind you of that every goddamn day.

Have some ideas of your own? Tell us in the comments!