Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Hard Knock Life for T drivers

A trolley driver for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was allegedly punched and yelled at by an individual Sunday, according to an article in The Boston Globe.

The suspect allegedly approached the driver, yelled at her, punched her in the arm and called her a racial slur, according to the Globe.

The MBTA has had its share of difficulties during 2012. The T collisions and fare hikes have lowered public opinion of the service. Sure, there have been steps taken toward making the T more user-friendly — an app that allows riders to purchase tickets on their smartphones, for example. However, with a mounting deficit, it is unlikely that public opinion will improve soon.

While it is unclear what the individual’s motives were on Sunday, it is no overstatement that emotions run high on the T. Riders become frustrated when their trains are delayed, and they expressed dissatisfaction upon learning that they have to shell out an extra few cents per ride (for some commuters, a few extra dollars for every trip). Looking for someone to blame, some riders blame the drivers.

For riders, the drivers are the most visible extensions of the T. But just because they are accessible, does not mean all of our anger and frustration should be directed at them. Some things are out of their control.

Without the drivers, where would we be? Because of them, we have increased mobility. We can travel in and out of the city without having to worry about finding a parking space or navigating through Boston’s hectic streets. In spite of the delays, in spite of the rising costs, T drivers take us from point A to point B, and for that, we should be thankful.

We should consider how stressful driving the T must be. Drivers have to deal with commotion on board — people refusing to pay, blocking the doors or harrassing other passengers — combined with the traffic on the street. Just as the T frustrates riders, think of how aggravating unruly people or hectic traffic must be for the drivers.

The MBTA’s service could be improved. Stations could be cleaner. Trains and buses could run more frequently. Some drivers could do without yelling as much. However, when it comes down to it, the T enables us to move us around the city. And the drivers, the underappreciated faces of the T, deserve our respect.

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