The Press Corps And Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (Like Mass Transit)

Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung writes (boldface mine):

By now, you must have read that The Boston Globe has moved downtown from our longtime home in Dorchester, where most employees drove to work and enjoyed free parking.

No such perk exists at the new space, which means hundreds of journalists, myself included, have joined the ranks of the T’s 1.3 million daily commuters

Many of my colleagues and I tend to experience the T as headline-making news: How the commuter rail can’t function when it’s too cold or too hot; how Orange Line passengers endured a harrowing escape from a smoke-filled train; and who can possibly forget the runaway Red Line train?

One of the reasons that mass transit systems have been allowed to deteriorate in the U.S. is that the issues in day-to-day operations (as opposed to SUBWAY FIRE! ZOMG!!!) aren’t covered, since they don’t affect most of the decision-makers in many newsrooms. So unless there’s a Big Scandal, the problems just aren’t covered. For instance, on Friday, there were two track fires that paralyzed the Red Line in D.C:

While the first incident outside Medical Center, reported at 7:58 a.m., was resolved relatively quickly — single tracking started at about 8:20 — the second incident devolved into a morass.

At 9:15, Metro’s official Twitter feed announced service was suspended between Dupont Circle and Woodley Park with shuttles requested. Forty-five minutes later, @MetrorailInfo posted that the shutdown segment was extended further north to Van Ness, where hundreds of stranded, sweating riders crowded the sidewalk along Connecticut Avenue Northwest….

For the better part of an hour, neither emergency shuttles nor regular Metro buses arrived in adequate numbers to get them on the way to work again. With time to kill on a muggy June morning, they vented.

“This is ridiculous,” said Jonathan Thompson. Two hours and 45 minutes after he left his house near the Shady Grove Metro, he had no idea when he would get to work. The Red Line between Shady Grove and Twinbrook has been shut down the past week for SafeTrack repairs, so Thompson expected a slower-than-normal trip, but not this slow.

I guarantee if it took The Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt two hours to get to work (it took me two and a half hours), then these sorts of delays would be covered more often. Instead of focusing on the big scandals, the coverage would focus on what regular riders want: service, reliability, and recovery when problems arise. Oddly enough, people pay attention to problems when they are directly affected by them.

Making Boston Globe employees use mass transit will be a good thing for Boston. Now if only this were to happen in D.C…

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

4 Responses to The Press Corps And Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (Like Mass Transit)

  1. dr2chase says:

    If enough of them biked to work, perhaps we’d hear about Uber drivers using bike lanes for pick ups and drop offs (for example).

    • Ougaseon says:

      Depending on your jurisdiction that may not be an offense. Stopping/standing rules are all over the place from municipality to municipality. I know from experience that it can be super annoying if you have to go through several on your commute!

  2. Adam Gaffin says:

    I’ve always wondered why the Globe doesn’t have somebody covering the daily travails of riding the T – it’s such an important part of life here and they miss so much.

    Leung is not the person to write that column, however – over the past couple years, she’s made it clear she doesn’t like the little people who make Boston so annoying she had to flee the South End to a neighboring suburb. This specific column was annoying because a) she got subway-riding fashion tips from the state transportation secretary (ditch the heels!), b) she was amazed to learn you can download an app that lets you know when the train is coming (only like four years after they came out), c) She was impressed by 90% on-time performance the week after the Red Line (which she’ll be taking) suffered multiple major delays due to everything from dead trains, malfunctioning signals and the odd tunnel fire and d) she basically wrote that now that she has to take the T, it’s real news – which might explain why she missed all the Red Line news the week before.

    Also worth noting is that Ms. Leung was the Globe’s biggest booster of our failed Olympics bid. At one point, she wrote a column telling the USOC to ignore all the protests because we were basically just a bunch of cranky toddlers who needed a nap.

Comments are closed.