It all started with Alewife. I had no idea when this photo was taken August 5th, 2016 at Alewife Station that I was about to embark on years of countless hours of subway and bus travel. I was tricked. Outsmarted by a smart Alex— my 11-year old son who has had an obsession with the Boston MBTA (‘The T’) subway system since before he could speak.
Let me back up. A few weeks prior to this day we were in Boston on an excursion. We had come into Boston by parking at Wonderland station and taking the train to Airport station on the Blue Line. From there we rode the Silver Line into Boston because he had always wanted to take the Silver Line (which is actually a bus pretending to be a subway line). He thought the part where the bus shuts down for a minute and switches to electric power was the coolest thing ever.
After some time in Boston, he asked if we could visit Alewife Station before heading home because he had always wanted to see Alewife station. The idea of traveling all the way to the end of the Red Line just to let him see a station didn’t thrill me, but I reluctantly agreed. Unfortunately, we underestimated the time it would take us. One stop short of our Alewife destination, we realized we wouldn’t have enough time to catch the train home. We got out at Davis Square, turned around, and went back. He was really upset, and I was mad at myself for agreeing to try to do it in the first place. Who travels 45 minutes round-trip on a subway just to get out and see a station? My son, that’s who.
So back to that fateful day in August. My guilty conscience is at fault. I told him we would plan another day in Boston where we could visit Alewife Station. Even more, he could plan a day that was solely committed to traveling on subways and buses ALL day. I would let him lead the way. His eyes lit up. He was so excited to plan our day.
He was all smiles when we embarked on our adventure early that morning, leaving Salem on an MBTA bus right in front of our house. We’ve lived in Salem for 17 years and prior to riding with Alex, I had never been on that bus. The bus led us to Wonderland Station which connects to the Blue Line subway. We rode it to State Street, transferred to the Orange Line, and then transferred again at Downtown Crossing to the Red Line and up to Alewife. We got out at Alewife and he marveled at the modern cement structure.
I convinced him to walk outside for a bit and we found a fun seafood restaurant nearby, the Summer Shack, where we enjoyed an early, very nice lunch.
After lunch, I asked where we were heading next. This time, it was Allston Street on the Green Line (B). I thought to myself there probably isn’t much to see on a tiny little Green Line subway stop, but it was his day, so off we went. When we arrived, we got out, looked around, got promptly back on again at the next subway and headed back the direction we came.
Next stop was Andrew Street on the Red Line. I’m a little slow, apparently, because I still had no idea how he was choosing this interesting subway excursion route so I finally asked him. He said that we were doing all the ‘A’ subway station stops in alphabetical order. Alright, I thought, fine. It was his day so I kept my mouth shut.
We stopped at Andrew Street (which looked like every other subway stop to me) as he continued to study the map and grin ear to ear. We got out and turned around, headed back toward downtown, making our way toward Aquarium on the Blue Line after transferring at State St. We had already passed the Aquarium station earlier that day, when our destination was Alewife, but at that time I wasn’t aware of his master plan.
Next up was Arlington on the Green Line. By now it was late in the afternoon. We had already passed Arlington twice on our way to and from Andrew St. I was a little annoyed, but reminded myself that it was his day. We got out for just a minute and turned around again.
Our next destination was Ashmont on the Red Line, which was about a 40 minute round-trip ride, passing Andrew St. twice on the way there and back. I held my tongue as I got more annoyed. I kept thinking of all the other things I would rather be doing on this nice day. Summer is so short anyway and I work full-time! This has taken up an entire Saturday of my precious time. This is crazy! What a waste of day. I asked if this was still fun for him. Alex looked a little hurt. Of course. Didn’t I? Of course I did, I lied. Then he proudly announced we were headed to the last stop. My joy at that point was sincere.
And there we were. Assembly station on the Orange Line. We did it! We arrived at 6pm. I had survived riding on the ‘T’ all day with my public transportation obsessed son. I had to get a picture as it was a very proud moment. I was confident that completing this excursion would satisfy him for a long time. We were done. Finished. Finite!
We rewarded ourselves with some popcorn. As we were munching he told me how much fun he had. He looked up at me and asked, “When are were going to do the B’s?”
My heart sank. It hit me how foolish I’d been. What did I do? How many B subway stops are there? How many total are there? Did I really just commit myself to riding endless days and hours of the T? When would we get through them all?
Well, it turns out there are 141 subway stations, per the alphabetical list below that he decided to follow: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_MBTA_subway_stations
I’d love suggestions along the way as I take this journey with Alex. I started this blog to document each of our trips and I plan on taking notes of neighborhoods, the changing rider demographics as we pass one end of Boston to the other, total mileage traveled, and lots of photos. Anything else?