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    Starts & Stops

    An ode to the Government Center MBTA stop


    It is in moments of loss, it seems, that we humans most ardently turn to poetry. Think of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 30” — “I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought/ And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste” — or Pablo Neruda’s “A Dog Has Died.”

    And so it was that on March 21, as Government Center Station closed for it’s two-year overhaul, T staff charged with shuttering the station and erecting barriers around the entrances discovered a new swath of graffiti scrawled onto the wall, just beside the stairs to the Blue Line.

    It’s a lament for Government Center, written by one of the last subway riders to pass through the station before its long-term hibernation.


    Read, and enjoy:

    Rebuilding Transformation Gratitude

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    Dear Government Center

    Thank you!

    How many times have I passed through your halls?

    How Many Seasons?


    Blue Line to Green Line to work.

    Green Line to Blue Line to Home.

    Habit of my daily commute

    How many moments with family and friends?

    Returning with family after I ran the Boston Marathon.


    Heightened excitement on the way to the Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins game.

    So many comings and goings of so many people you have seen.

    Red Brick entry way, Landmark on City Hall Plaza.

    Thank you people who built Scolley [sic] Square and the Government Center Station

    Thank you people who are building the new Government Center over the next two years

    I look forward to enjoying your work of excellence.

    Thank you

    Love Sincerely

    A promise of street lamp repairs

    And yet not all Boston-area commuter are overcome with such fuzzy feelings for the state’s transportation infrastructure.

    Debbie Robinson of Newton Centre first wrote in December to register a complaint about a slew of broken street lamps that plagued her commute, both in downtown Newton as well as on the Pike.

    When she drives to and from Boston, she counts the number of lights in disrepair. Usually, it’s dozens.

    “The worst part is the exit ramp on the Mass Pike westbound, on the off ramp at Newton Corner, exit 17. There are 8 or 9 lights out IN A ROW,” Robinson wrote in a follow-up e-mail earlier this month. “The delay . . . in replacing these bulbs creates a serious safety hazard. . . . In all cases, these government agencies are ignoring their responsibility to protect public safety.”

    I passed along Robinson’s concerns to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the agency sent electricians to ride on the Pike from Weston to Boston.

    “Of the approximately 1,000 lights in this stretch, we found 202 lights out. We have been able to fix 35 of those lights on the eastbound side of the Pike between Interchanges 15 and 17. This leaves us with 167 to repair,” wrote MassDOT spokeswoman Sara Lavoie.

    Lavoie explained that, because of traffic, there is only a three- to four-hour window in the wee hours each night to perform repairs, and electricians are also hampered by weather.

    “This work is a priority; however the effort to restore these lights will take weeks,” Lavoie wrote. “Problems we have found so far range from lamps to ballasts to wider circuit issues that require more time to repair.”

    Good, Robinson said. But not good enough.

    “MassDOT has confirmed that even more lights are out than I reported. I respect their explanation of additional time needed to make repairs due to weather, ordering of parts, and the limited number of hours available per day,” Robinson responded in an e-mail.

    “I shudder to think, however, of how many highway accidents might have occurred, “affecting not only car drivers and their passengers, but also passengers on buses.”

    New report says parking
    in Boston really is that bad

    Few pleasures are as sweet as the comfort of knowing you’re justified in whining about parking in Boston.

    A new study from the personal finance website NerdWallet ranked Boston the fifth-worst city in the nation for the quality of parking, behind Chicago, Oakland, San Francisco, and New York City.

    The ranking was based on average daily and monthly parking costs and vehicle theft rates, but didn’t look at the real torment of Hub drivers: the ratio of on-street parking spots to cars seeking a temporary home.

    Still, NerdWallet noted that Boston does have some redeeming factors when it comes to parking. From its post:

    “Boston is one of the cities served by the Parker app, which provides information about spots and garages in the area. It costs $33.50 a day and $405 a month to park in the city. If you’re visiting the city, try going on a Sunday — parking meters are free that day.”

    “In Boston, you can register for ticket notifications, so you can get reminders when you receive a ticket and when you have to pay. You can also appeal a ticket in person, by mail or online. The city’s Department of Transportation keeps the public updated about projects for street improvement through the website Boston Complete Streets.”

    Motorists looking for the best deal on parking — low parking costs and few thefts — may look no further than Boise. But then you’d have to live in Boise.

    Martine Powers can be reached at martine.powers@ Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.