Would Better Maps of the T Make It Less Crowded?

Maybe (boldface mine):

Or take the enlarged-center syndrome. In Boston, the distance from Park St. to Downtown Crossing looks at least a mile long on the MBTA map (at left) but in reality, it’s easily walkable. If we blindly rely on the map, we’ll probably waste time.

Individual decisions bloom into system-wide effects. Center enlargement—a necessity if you want all the names and transfers to be legible—has a dual effect on mass behavior, Guo surmises.

“Those last one or two stops are generally in an urban center, so they tend to congest the system,” he says. If passengers got out at Park St. and walked instead of transferring for one stop, it would clear out a ton of human traffic underground. The flip side: the apparently short distance from the outskirts to downtown areas could make city hubs seem much more accessible to many people who live far away.

Here’s what Guo is talking about:


There are advantages of those close-together stops when the weather is miserable (and that never happens in Boston), but he is right in that a lot of people, especially those unfamiliar with the system, will waste time in the station rather than walk. A couple of weeks ago, someone looked at me funny when he asked, on a nice day, how to get from Park Street to State Street–he preferred to take the Red Line one stop, then the Orange Line for one stop, instead of walking the quarter mile for six minutes.

This entry was posted in Boston, Transportation. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Would Better Maps of the T Make It Less Crowded?

  1. Bill says:

    That reminds me: is there a reasonable way to get from South Station to Logan by public transport? I’ve tried the Silver Line (which, for those who don’t know, is a bus, not a train); but it was slow, hot, and standing-room only.

    The reason I ask is that I sometimes arrive on Amtrak on a Saturday intending to take Icelandair across the Pond.

Comments are closed.