14
Mar
10

A trip to DC

I had to go to DC for a day to run some errands, and having not been there since my sophomore year of college, it was interesting to do some of my old routines.The whole day felt like deja vu.

Since I was all over town, I used basically every metro line and I was struck by how superior it was to Boston’s subway system. I mean, that’s not a surprise, Boston doesn’t really have anything in the infrastructure department that would warrant praise, but I think it’s worth going over a few of the highlights.

First, to get them out of the way, Boston does actually do two things right. First, they have the charlie card, which is a tap and go system, where DC still requires the use of flimsy paper cards. Also, price. DC can be more expensive since it charges by how far you go. Price by distance rather than a flat rate per trip requires commuters to insert their fare cards at the beginning and end of every subway ride. Kind of annoying but not devastating. Also, there may be benefits to efficiency in terms of channeling long trips toward bus routes (I just don’t evidence to assess the credentials of this argument).

Now for the positives. DC’s system spans the city nicely and you can easily get where you are going. In Boston if you’re on the red line and need to get out to the west tail of the city, you can fah-get about it, because you have to first transfer at park street, which is like a preschooler’s pretend train station with miniature cars and irrational track locations. Compare this to DC main transfer point, L’enfant plaza. Two lines down below, two up top arranged in a nice criss-cross pattern with fast regular trains.

This brings me to next point which is speed. The DC trains are way faster, especially compared to Boston’s green line, and most (I think all) have little displays that say when the next train is arriving. Pretty handy.

And delays? DC wins hands down again. There was apparently a problem on the red line where I was and the loudspeaker noted that trains were sharing the line in and out of my station. My train was delayed 4 minutes and then went at it’s regular speed. I hardly noticed anything wrong. This is compared to Boston which, as long as I’ve lived here, has significant delays for no reason that can last up to twenty minutes.

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1 Response to “A trip to DC”


  1. 1 aaron
    March 15, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    yeahh pretend stations


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