A Dog on the Blog

When I was eight years old, the teeth of the family dog managed to meet the face of the family daughter.  In other words, good ol’ Max couldn’t contain his animal urges and bit me.  I lived to tell the tale, but my parents had to get rid of our dog.  Which means I’ve wanted a dog for about 19.5 years.

Last Friday, I satisfied that need.  Meet… Charlie!

Charlie, as you can see in this very low-res iPhone photo (I don’t own a real camera) is adorable.  She’s four months old, about 17 pounds, a terrier mix (read: mutt) and has a mysterious namesake.  I picked her up on Friday night at the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem.  She. Is. Awesome.

….Even if she totally freaks out at the dogs, cars, and people we pass walking up and down Charles Street.  (namesake?)

Getting a dog definitely has changed my life in the city, even over these first few days.  Beyond puppy-proofing my apartment and doing a lot of obedience school research, I have to rethink my evenings.  I can’t disappear after work and stay out all night when I have a puppy waiting for me at home.

I also have to rethink my transit.  I don’t think Charlie is quite ready for her first CharlieCard (namesake?), but it’s good to know that it’s okay to have dogs on the T.  Charlie’s really looking forward to taking her first trip to Charles/MGH (namesake?) and having her 15 minutes of fame like the adorable pups highlighted on Dogs on the T.

The good news is, the T actually has a pretty cool policy about pets.  Give or take a snake.  (Snakes on a train!)  You can read it on their website, but here’s the deets:

During off-peak hours, non-service dogs are allowed at the discretion of T vehicle operators. Dogs must be properly leashed and are not allowed to annoy riders or take up a seat.

Sounds reasonable to me, and to Charliedog.  As Charlie always says, “Winning!”  Wait, that was Charlie Sheen.  (namesake?)


Boston: Home of The Cars!

Here at ONEin3, we talk a lot about how annoying the T can be and, once in a while, the hassle of neighborhood parking-space-savers, but I think we tend to overlook a major transportation inconvenience: driving.

I am one of those fools who lives in America’s Walking City and yet spends a fair amount of my April 1 through November 30 looking for an SUV-sized spot in the small, cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill.  I moved back to Boston from Hartford, which is decidedly NOT a walkable city, so I’m committed to my vehicle.

When do I need a car?  Well, as I mentioned, this is America’s Walking City.  But if you’re heading outside of city limits, sometimes the T isn’t enough.  In fact, there are a few neighborhoods within the city that aren’t even that accessible!

So if you’re trying to get around New England without a car, you can train, boat, and bus a lot of places.  For areas public transportation won’t take you, here are your options:

1.  Rent-a-car! Plenty of options here.  Zipcar, Hertz, Enterprise, you name it.  Zipcar is probably the most popular for this kind of thing, but pretty much any auto rental place can hook you up with a vehicle for a few hours.  I’ve had a few friends really enjoy the experience with Zipcar thanks to the number of locations, possibility for a monthly plan, and hourly rates.  Pretty awesomely convenient.  Not to mention, it began in Cambridge.  So, props to regional entrepreneurship.

2.  Buy-a-car! Not for the faint of wallet, but there are loads of car dealerships in greater Boston, not to mention a pretty good Boston Globe Sunday car section.  Do it old school style: buy a Sunday Globe, make yourself breakfast, and sit at the kitchen table with the paper fully open and blocking out your spouse.  There are some things that technology ruined, and using the newspaper to ignore your loved ones is one of them.

3.  Skip-the-car! Where exactly are you headed?  If you’re going to Provincetown, this might not work.  (Not to mention, there’s a ferry.)  But if you’re just looking to get to a T-ignored neighborhood, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a sedan.  The commuter rail goes a long way out of town, so as long as you’re not traveling during peak commuter times, you’re probably cool to bring your bike on board. Check the rules before you board though!

4.  Steal-a-car! Alright, I’m not saying steal.  Just borrow!  But do you remember college?  There was always one kid on the floor who had a car on campus, which made him or her unnecessarily popular.  They say the city is a real college town, so might as well live it up in the most mundane way possible.  Befriend a neighbor by helping him dig out.  Fill the car up with gas if he lets you use it.  Don’t hit anything.  Don’t pester.  But if you’ve got a willing friend or neighbor, make it happen.


Does #MBTA = #Danger?

Sometimes, #mbta means more problems than just a delayed train:  On Monday evening, a teenager was stabbed on the Red Line around 5:15 at Park Street.  There are pedestrians hit by trains, bus drivers throwing coffee at other drivers, and closing train doors that make riders fear for our lives, but what happens when it’s not the T, but passengers putting others at risk?

On a visit to Singapore a few years ago, I saw signs on the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) advising riders and resident to “Let your hair down, not your guard.”  Agree to disagree (or agree to agree) on Singapore’s public safety measures, but the fact that the government believes it has to advertise the possibility of danger?  Seems ridiculous.  One would think that the residents and public transit-riders in a major international city(-state), one would think alertness and awareness of danger would be second nature.

So, during my brief time in Singapore, I laughed at those signs.  Similarly, I chuckle at other such signage.  Apparently ignorance of crime is an international problem!

And yet…

On the rare occasion that I ride the T, I rarely think about safety.  I’m not throwing my wallet around or seeking out dark alleys or anything, but I’m hardly hyper-conscious of my surroundings.  I consider Boston a safe city.  I feel comfortable walking through the Common at night, I don’t think twice about hopping on a train or a bus.  Are there neighborhoods and alleyways and places I am less likely to venture to alone and afterhours?  Of course.  But are T stops those places?  Nope.

So, I’m going to take a moment to remind myself (and others) that my most-used T stop actually had the most reported crime last year.  Sure, T crime in Boston is down from years past, but we’re still in a major city.  Want to lower some of those crime rates?  Be more alert.  Be safe!

Do you feel safe on the T?  Do you have tips for other riders?  Suggestions for the T?  How can we be safer on the T?  How about in Boston, generally?


Start a Love Train!

Yesterday being Valentine’s Day, you may have noticed that the ONEin3 team didn’t do much pink/red/heart-shaped anything for you.  Well, we don’t want to move too fast.  But now that we’re past all the mushy love stuff, I think this is worth a look.

Yesterday, @TransitMatters shared the most adorable link via tweet:  love seats!  On buses!

Alright, so it wasn’t that adorable.  In May, a Danish transport company introduced a brief test run of red-upholstered designated “love seats” on more than 100 buses  to encourage flirtation and romance among the city’s passengers.  Sitting in a “love seat” opens you up to more interaction with your fellow passengers, whether you’re married or single, looking or not.

A two-week test to see if people are interested in sitting in seats designated “flirt-friendly” isn’t exactly Casablanca.  More Strangers on a Train.  But if you’ve ridden the Red Line lately and seen the guy who lectures riders on how we need to speak to each other, maybe you’re interested.  (If you’ve heard him serenade riders with the Backstreet Boys, you’re probably seriously considering alternatives.)

But can we find friendship and romance on the T?  Semi-unrelated story: shortly after I first moved to Boston in 2005, I rode on a T with a couple who claimed they’d met on the Red Line, gotten engaged on a Braintree train, took wedding photos on a train, and then were naming their kids after T stops.  Since then, I can’t hear station names and not picture some poor child starting kindergarten with a name like Wollaston Alewife Smith. But I digress.

I couldn’t find any follow-up to last May’s Danish endeavor, but I’m still wondering how well something like that would work in Boston.  Could we shake our reputation for unfriendliness if we gave people who like to chat an opportunity to come together?  I mean, #mbta leads me to believe you’re all spending 40% of your day sitting on trains, so why not make it worth your while?

I know we’d all rather the MBTA focus its attention on more efficient service, but what if we could designate certain parts of trains as Meet & Greet trains?  Or put in a few love seats?  We’ve been packed into ol’ Big Red like sardines and I haven’t heard many matchmaking stories there, so I don’t see why we can’t make our own moves.  Let’s say during non-rush hours, first car of every train is a Meet & Greet Car.  I don’t care, call it what you want.  Would that encourage more interaction between Bostonians?

Tell us what you think.  Will friendly faces and good conversation make you like your transit more?  Would love seats or conversation cars make you more likely to engage with others?  Will anything make you stop hate-tweeting @MBTAGM?  We need answers.