The MBTA and a Saturday In Boston
September 28, 2002
by Jonathan Stein
Once or twice a year I will get the chance to go up into Boston and do some shopping and of course ride the MBTA. Well those were my two objectives for this trip. I would be departing Kingston at 11:40am on the #1036 commuter rail to South Station were I would change to the Red Line Subway to Government Center to the Green Line Subway to Prudential. Shop at the mall there, then head on the Green back to Haymarket. Do some shopping around Faneuil Hall then head back on the Red Line from Government Center to South Station where train #1041, the outbound 8:15pm would be awaiting for the run back to Kingston.
We arrived into Kingston around 11:30 after we drove around trying to find the station. Kingston has just built a new "Mega-Mall" which sits one block in front of the station. The station its self sits in a somewhat rural like area within an industrial park. Once parked we paid for parking through the courtesy pay box on the platform in which you match your space number with the number on the board in which you put a dollars worth of quarters. I believe this box is checked one or two times a day and if someone doesn't pay the traffic cop will match the box number to space number and give the car a ticket.
We boarded and departed on-time 5 minutes later on the following consist:
- CTC-1B Single Level Cab Car - CTC-4 Double Decker Coach (only car open to passengers) - CTC-4 Double Decker Coach - CTC-4 Double Decker Coach - CTC-4 Double Decker Coach - CTC-1B Single Level Cab Car - GP-40 Locomotive (push mode)
This being a weekend train the conductors only opened that one car. The conductors came around selling and issuing tickets and the rest of the ride was uneventful except you could not hear a single announcement over the intercom. We passed through the wet marshlands and the forests of Southeastern Massachusetts. The ride was notably smooth. By the time we had left JFK/UMASS (one stop before South Station) that car was only half full, about 50 passengers. South Station called on time at 12:37pm. Two tracks over was the Lake Shore Limited #449 ready to depart for Chicago in about an hour. Its consist was like this:
- P-42 Phase V - P-42 Phase V - MHC Phase III - Converted Heritage Coach Baggage Phase IV - Viewliner Sleeper Phase IV - Amfleet II Coach Phase IV - Amfleet II Coach Phase IV - Amfleet I Café Phase III
These consists are just a mental note from my memory so they may not be exact. Once in South Station it was a "b line" to the Red Line subway. So much work is being done to the South Station redline stop it is mostly just mock up walls of plywood and dry wall. Not all that appealing. Perfect timing. A train arrived right as we stepped down onto the platform. One thing that I much dislike about the MBTA is there is no computer voice and when the train operator makes an announcement over the intercom it's so garbled it sounds like someone stepped on a cats tail. This gave trouble to us later on in the trip. At Government Center we changed to the Green Line and headed onto Prudential. At Prudential it was right to the Food Court for some lunch then some shopping. I had a slice of pizza, Caesar salad, a roll, and a root beer to wash everything down. We ate outside which lend to be a mistake because of the high winds. After that it was to Saks Fifth Avenue, to look not to shop. No I'll pass on that $2,000 dollar leather jacket thank you very much. Well just being in the store makes you feel wealthy. It was then off to a candy store, Barnes and Nobles, and Starbuck's for some iced tea.
No still not done shopping, off to Faneuil Hall on the Green line. We went into the station waited and waited and ten minutes later a train shows up. OK stop, stop, where are you going. It must have been an express, as it did not stop. Well less than a minute later a local showed up to pick us up. The train was packed. We made the 15 minute or so journey to Haymarket where we got off.
Abercrombie and Fitch was the first stop for some new clothes. This store is huge with four stories of clothes. They were having a massive fall clearance so the place was packed. I bought a pair of pants for $44 and no more as I was kind of short on money and dinner was still waiting. We ate at Cheers. I had a Blue Cheese Burger, which was not at all what I expected. I thought it would be a burger with a slice of American cheese and some sort of Blue cheese sauce. Instead it was a burger with some very sharp, crumbled blue cheese. I just put the cheese off to the side and ate the rest.
We did a little more walking around a street performer pulling melons and oranges out of hat. I then purchased a necklace and after that it was definitely time to head back to South Station. We walked up Capitol Hill and over to the Government Center Red Line station. We jumped onto to the first train that came in and were off to South Station, so we thought. Well no one was announcing the stops so before we knew it we were one stop beyond South Station. So with two heavy bags in hand we had to cross platform and wait for another train. 5 minutes later one did show up and in a flash we were back at South Station.
At South Station I got a bottle of water, some gum, and went off to check out some Amtrak action. The Lake Shore Limited #448 had all ready arrived from Chicago and it was only 7:00pm. Way to arrive 20 minute early LSL. I could only see two P-42 locomotives in Phase V up front as the train began to pull away. Acela Regional #88 was just arriving from Newport News. I was able to get its full consist:
- AEM-7 Phase III - Amfleet I Acela Regional Coach Class - Amfleet I Acela Regional Coach Class - Amfleet I Acela Regional Coach Class - Amfleet I Coach Phase IV - Amfleet I Acela Regional Coach Class - Amfleet I Acela Regional Coach Class - Amfleet I Café Phase III - Amfleet I Metroliner Coach Phase IV (Business Class)
#88 backed out into the yard and no sooner train #67 the southbound Twilight Shoreliner backed in. Oddly though, the departure board inside the station called it a Northeast Direct. The Shorelines consist went like this:
- AEM-7 Acela Scheme - MHC Phase III - Viewliner Sleeper Phase IV (dead head???) - Heritage Baggage Phase III (fitted with bicycle racks) - Amfleet I Acela Regional Coach Class - Amfleet I Acela Regional Coach Class - Amfleet I Acela Regional Coach Class - Amfleet I Club Car (for Business Class and Café) - Viewliner Sleeper Phase IV
I tried walking on the platform the Twilight Shoreliner was parked on, but in good old South Station fashion an Amtrak employee came out and escorted me off. I don't see the big deal. You can walk on every other platform but the one Amtrak pulls into. Oh well. In the mean time and Acela Express pulled in from Washington and then it was time to board the 8:15 #1041 back to Kingston. As coming in-bound, the consist was the same going outbound and again only one car was open. This time the conductor made the announcement by yelling from the door that she was standing at to let people on and off, this made for less confusion, as you can barely understand anything over the intercom. She was really nice and ended up talking with a few passengers. Usually the conductors will go and hide in the crew/cab car. Once we were at Kingston she even stood by the door and said good bye to everyone just as an airline attendant would do at the end of a flight.
The rest of the ride was quiet and relaxing. There is something about being on a commuter train at night that is very appealing. You just get lost in time since you can't see out the tinted window and the fluorescent lights blaring. Kingston called on time and the car was safe and sound. Thus ends a great day in the city of Boston and a great day of commuter riding.