Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thirty Surprising things about Boston, Mass, and New England

I know some of this may not be politics and bureaucracy but worth including.
I will be sure to include some bureaucracy includes
Image:Boston Financial District.jpg
  1. In Boston Logan Airport individual Airport terminals seems small but the airport itself has a lot of runways indicating that it is huge. Therefore it is easy to walk around. It has a shuttle bus line "Silver Line" that actually runs normally around the terminals but runs underground like a subway into the city center.
  2. Taxi fares are automatically $20 dollars more expensive if flagged from Logan airport. However one can jump on the "silver line" and ride to the South Station for $1.70 and ride taxi from there at normal city rates usually within $10 within city limits
  3. The Boston T system is nearly a century old yet looks clean and not to much decay unlike other old systems.  I think T stands for Trolley. I guess it used to be named Boston Trolley. It has a very modern Charliecard electronic fare collection system and innovative fare gates. Though the only drawback the subways platforms are not heated which is surprising in such a cold winter city as Boston. I guess the platforms are rarely cold enough to justify heating as it is uncomfortably hot when it is cold outside during Spring and Fall.
  4. A very unique scene is that light rail Street cars have conductors sitting on both the leading and the following cars collecting fares and answering questions making it user friendly and not the honor system with rare fare inspections used in many other light rail around the country with outrageously expensive citations for those who make a mistake and happens to be unlucky but they never catch the real cheaters who understand the systems game.
  5. The Boston T system does not have a rule list  posted in its system or its website(i.e the no eating and drinking, no bare backs, no bare foot, no uncovered drinks, no littering signs found on transit agencies around country) in fact there is barely any rules to be found unlike agencies around the country yet compared to other systems its riders behave civilly and keeps the system very clean.
  6. Most unique thing about the T there is no ban on eating and drinking on the T or their subway system unlike other subway systems around the country or world yet there is no spilled food or drink to be seen. There are sometimes even coffee shops or Dunkin Donuts in stations.
  7. Fares are very low for a transit agency in US and buses fares are lower than subway. it is very rare for a single transit provider in US to offer separate fare amounts for bus and train.
  8. There is rarely automatic sliding doors on buildings or other types of automatic doors where there is usually there is only one set with the other set of doors ahead of it manual. Therefore it can be a very inconvenient to enter and exit buildings particularly for those mobility impaired and/or use crutches, walkers, and/or wheelchairs. The Logan Airport is the only place I find automatic sliding doors on both the outside and inside doors.
  9. People really don't like to push buttons in Boston or other parts of New England. Buttons for Walk Signals or automatic door openers are hardly ever pushed. Ironically it is actually illegal in Boston to push a button with no intention of crossing yet the buttons only give a illusion of control doesn't make a difference unlike in the West coast.
  10. The fine for walking/bicycling and crossing mid block is on the spot $1 but has not been enforced for decades. Same thing for walking or riding where prohibited by sign or red signal. This is rampant in the metropolitan area.
  11. Traffic signals seem to be mere suggestions. No red light cameras can be seen.  For every red traffic light there least one or two red light runners/jumpers this is not including those on non motorized vehicles who are almost guaranteed to jump the lights.
  12. The roads are as confusing there is no recognizable gird or any pattern. It is like a black widows spider's web or a haunted corn maze. Many in car GPS units would get confused like a compass meeting a magnet. It seems easier to navigate a corn maze than Boston area streets. Not surprisingly the easiest roads to remember and drive on are most likely hopelessly congested.
  13. Police might look like they are guiding and enforcing intersection traffic rules but they are actually looking for suspects. I saw one who jumped from the intersection into patrol car and went in hot pursuit with sirens and turning two corners right away.
  14. In Brookline it is very common to see police cars responding hot with sirens. A rare sight in other parts of the country outside of New York City and Los Angeles. However people often say Brookline is safe in terms of crime.
  15. Regarding crime info here are actually official city ordinances in Brookline and Boston that prohibits any company or agency other than the police department from stating or providing crime information. This is strictly enforced on housing agencies whether public or commercial, employers, schools and universities, and apartments. Even a mere comment on safety is prohibited under the ordinance.
  16. The state police cars not municipal police has super bright led lights looks like the ones used inside haunted houses for special effects.
  17. Many ambulances and police cars play "DJ" with their sirens or travel with very irregular siren patterns.  The only other place I know that does this regularly is New York City. Can catch people by surprise just like haunted house actors
  18. While driver don't seem to pull over for ambulances as with major California cities however unlike in California they would try to pull into the intersection against the light if an ambulance is stuck in line created by the red light and cannot find its way around them.  
  19. Like some states in the Northeast there are what is know as Turnpikes which is a weird term to people living in the West Coast. Massachusetts turnpikes have full service plazas with supermarkets gas stations and restaurants just like in China and around the Boston area there is a Shaw's supermarket and a Intercontinental hotel built directly above the Turnpike. Boston is also an expert at tunneling the Turnpike below the Prudential Center and downtown at a project called the big dig. Wish San Francisco and Los Angeles can do the same thing.
  20. An EZ pass toll transponder is not just a luxury of convenience through tolls it is necessary for survival. Toll booths encounters are very common.
  21. Boston seems like a Cultural Mosaic where individual cultures are respected and valued than a melting pot like in Florida, Texas, California and the southwest. Most of the population has well defined pedigree lists.
  22. There are many schools therefore many students however there is little of the wild uncivilized College town behavior on the streets.
  23.  There are plenty of "Melissa Joan Hart" or aka Sabrina Spellman the teenaged witch looking ladies walking on the streets. 
  24. There is a town named Salem about half an hour from Boston City Center. The name is actually short for Jerusalem. This is the town where the infamous Salem witch trails took place. There are tons of haunted houses within a half mile radius of city center and many activities in October and they are cheap. There are ones with both human actors and automated animatronics as well as full automated animatronics ones.
  25. There are actually official "trick or treat" streets in certain cities such as Cambridge where all houses and yards are professionally decorated as well as the public areas. These streets are decorated mid October and become pedestrian only "night markets" on Trick or Treat night(Oct 31) attracting children from all over the city.
  26.  Not surprising in this cold winter climate in MA landlords of apartments are required to turn on the heat to the building from Sept 15 to June 1 at 68 - 78F 20-25C degrees unless they include on contract that the tenants is responsible for the heating unit. In that case it is hard to get the landlord to correct problems with heating including broken window weatherstripping.
  27. In MA clothing is tax free and groceries generally costs considerably less than California for some reason.
  28. Speaking of groceries even though many people live within walking distance of supermarkets in Brookline not one shopping cart can be seen been pushed home unlike in various parts of California or Florida where supermarkets often contract "cart retrieval services" to bring them back even though there are no shopping cart wheel interlocks nor high poles to be found with local stores.
  29. The state of MA has a very low state deficit rate despite low taxes.
  30. In neighboring New Hampshire not only are there no sales taxes there are no income taxes as well and the only state with no seatbelt laws. Though it is mostly cars with MA plates that would be seen with occupants not wearing seatbelts.