WGBH News Focus: The MBTA

The MBTA Index

By Danielle Dreilinger

mbta number one bus
Is the #1 bus #1? (Wikimedia)

May 2, 2012

WGBH readers and listeners care about the MBTA: Your responses to our "How I'd Fix the T" survey hit the triple digits — and they weren't one-word answers, either. The suggestions and ideas ranged as broad and wide as the commuter rail network ... but some trends did emerge. So, with a tip o' the e-ink to Harper's, here's your MBTA Index.


Percentage of responses over 150 words: 19
Word count of longest response: 359, cut off by survey window
Distance of farthest-flung respondent from the State House measured in B branch Green Line cars: 105,171.89 *
… Distance in smoots: 1,393,920


Percentage of respondents wanting more service/no cuts: 31
Rank of "expand service" in WGBH's Facebook poll: 1
Number of mentions of an "urban ring" that would connect the existing lines: 6
Year that six communities entered a compact to start planning an "urban ring": 1995 **
Number of mentions of the phrase "Big Dig": 13
Dollar amount of suggested increase in the gas tax: 1¢ – 5.1¢
Number of responses suggesting a new T pass for "SUV baby carriages": 1
Number of criticisms of T employees' work ethic/customer service: 6
… of T employees' fashion sense ("wrinkled, untucked shirts"): 1
Proportion of T employees who are great, according to one respondent: 99 44/100
Ratio of comments about the bus to comments about the commuter rail: 10:7
… of the buses to the Blue Line: 20:1
Bus routes identified by name: 1, 52, 77, 87, 88, SL5
Mean proposed maximum wait for a bus, in minutes: 11.67

Number of respondents wishing fellow T users "a nice ride": 1



* B branch cars are 74 feet long. Sources: AnsaldoBreda, Kinkisharyo, Wikipedia for the train manufacturers.
** Source: Boston Redevelopment Authority.


About WGBH News Focus: The MBTA

Love it, like it or lump it, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority touches nearly everyone's lives in eastern Mass. And it's in financial crisis, with newly announced fare hikes not enough to cover next year's projected $100 million budget deficit. WGBH News features special focus coverage of the tracks and troubles of our public transit system.

About the Author
Danielle Dreilinger Danielle Dreilinger
Danielle Dreilinger is an author and news producer for WGBH.org.

"If I Ran the T ..."

Everyone who's ever rode on the T has an opinion about what problem they'd change first. If you were in charge, where would you start? Let us know.

The Fare and Service Plan

On July 1, the T will introduce fare increases and service cuts to cover a $159 million budget gap for the next fiscal year. Read the plan on mbta.com.


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