Catching the Type 9

Back in March of 2019, I took a trip on the Green Line to see if I could catch a ride on their then-new Type 9 trolley. The T needed a couple of dozen extra cars to fill out the fleet once the Green Line Extension opened. (It’s been delayed, but the first branch opened last spring, and main branch will open next month. Finally.)

At that point, there were only a few of the trolleys in service, and one Saturday I saw one was out and about, so I decided to see if I could see it. I still remember excitedly watching its progress towards Kenmore on the B line, while I approached Kenmore on the D. I finally managed to position myself so that I was just ahead of it as it came back outbound, only to have it run right past me; it was not carrying passengers.

The COVID happened, and Mum’s stroke happened, and I’ve been busy, and I haven’t had a chance to try again. In the meantime, the rest of the order has arrived and been accepted. This past Saturday, I finally had a free afternoon, and decided to try to catch it again. I succeeded, and was able to ride #3904 from Riverside to Union Square.

Like the Type 8, the Type 9 is a “low floor” car, meaning that the center of the trolley is low, and you can board without climbing steps. The T has been obliged to buy low floor cars to accommodate wheel chair users. The Type 9 is laid out mostly like the Type 8 — bench seating along the sides of the car. I’m not a fan. You end up looking out the window behind the person across from you and can’t really see much. Along much of the car, the seats are on a raised platform that you have to step up onto from the low floor, while there are a few foldout seats available in the low-floor section.

I do like the interior of the Type 9 better than the Type 8. The Type 8 has a kind of light mint green interior that always reminds me of a bathroom. The Type 9 has warm light grey walls — almost a beige — green seat pads and enameled yellow stanchions for standees. It’s quite attractive. All of the signage aboard has been updated for the new extension. (The same cannot be said for many of the stations). The seat pads have a flat green textured surface that looks like they might be soft vinyl, but they are unfortunately hard plastic.

The train looks nice, and the on-board displays are nice, but still, I think I prefer the Type 7s with their transverse seating and beige and faux-wood interior. The entire Type 7 fleet was recently overhauled too, and they’re still the workhorses of the line. The Type 8s have never been particularly reliable; hopefully these new cars will be more so.

Sunrise at Castle Island

Today is the last day of Daylight Savings Time for 2022. The trouble with the tail end of DST is that sunrise is really late – 7:24 this morning, It been really sucking on workdays for the past few weeks; I normally get up at 7 on days that I work from home, and 6:30 on days that I go into the office, and I hate having to get up in the dark.

This morning though, I figured… If I get up a little after six, I can be over at Castle Island before 7 and be there before the sun comes up. I did not set an alarm; if I blew the wake time I figured no big deal, but in fact I did wake up around six, and hauled myself out of bed and onto the road.

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Crowd Crush

I’ve been reading a little about the Seoul Halloween Crowd Crush. There was a holiday celebration, the first after social distancing from COVID, and many more people showed up than expected, the layout of the streets funnelled them into a small area, and at least 156 people were crushed to death and at least 172 were injured.

It brought back memories. In October of 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Boston. There was a big temporary canvas covered altar set up on the Common. It was beautiful. Back then, I was 20 years old, active in the church, and had been invited to be in a special youth section up front, right in back of the VIPs, but in front of the vast masses covering the rest of the Common.

I got there early afternoon, and at first, it was great. I was close, I could see the altar clearly. When the Pope arrived, I was close enough to see him, and hear him say, “America the beautiful, beautiful even in the rain.”

But then the pushing started. Gradually, the folks behind us started trying to get closer, and started pushing from the back. We started moving forward, but there was only so far we could go because of the barriers in front separating us from the VIP section. It was scary, and I decided right there and then that I never wanted to be in that big of a crowd ever again. I can only imagine how the people who died felt at the end.