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‘2 trains, 4 buses’: man rides public transit from Cambridge to Northampton and tweets about it along the way

Lane Turner/Globe Staff

It’s a heck of a way to see Massachusetts.

Anthony Thomas, 26, took public transportation all the way from Cambridge to Northampton — spending about seven hours on what could have been a roughly two-hour trip by car, all in the service of his enthusiasm for transit.

“I love public transportation," Thomas, who works for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority as a community outreach specialist, said in a phone interview Monday afternoon, shortly after he arrived in Northampton to visit a friend. "I love what it represents. I love that it maybe gives people an opportunity to get places they couldn’t go.”

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The journey included two trains and four buses provided by three transit authorities, he said.

“I thought it was going to be a tough trip, and then when I got up and saw the weather I thought it was going to be a really tough trip," Thomas said. But it turned out to be relatively smooth, he said, with only one 15-minute delay. And because his initial commuter rail ride was free to him as an MBTA employee, the whole trip cost him a grand total of about $4.

“It would have been easy to hop in a car and come out here, but for environmental reasons and for other reasons, I think it was important for me to come out here and experience it this way,” he said.

Thomas posted extensively about his story on Twitter, beginning a thread at 7:49 a.m.:

“Starting my journey from #Cambridge to Northampton via public transit!” Thomas wrote. “2 trains, 4 buses. @MBTA, MART, FRTA! Missed the photo at Central cause the train was arriving, but here’s my [sic] at Charles!”

He later wrote, “On time departure of Train 405 to Wachusett! Thanks @MBTA and @MBTA_CR for getting this started right! Most transfer windows are long but there are a couple tight ones, so everything needs to go well!”

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Looks like it did, at the outset.

“Arrived perfectly on time at Wachusett Station!” Thomas later tweeted. “10:45am estimated departure on MART’s Wachusett shuttle to Gardner!”

So far so good, as Thomas’s journey and enthusiasm continued unabated.

“First bus/shuttle arrived a few minutes early!” Thomas tweeted around 11:25 a.m. “I’m glad because it was cold in the shelter. Holding until 10:45am, used my CharlieCard to pay, and I’m the only one onboard.”

He later noted a “quirk” during the journey.

“Wonderful shuttle ride,” Thomas wrote. “Interesting quirk was that I could have gotten off wherever along the route I wanted. But my stop was the transfer point between the shuttle and the Gardner-Athol bus, at Gardner City Hall. Perfect place to warm up before my estimated 11:40am departure.”

Later he hopped on a bus.

“And we’re off!,” Thomas tweeted at 11:46 a.m. “Heading from Gardner to Athol! Bus number 2! We’re in for a 35 minute trip on the G-Link.”

It’s important to note that Thomas reported a slight hiccup during this part of the trip.

“Arrived in Athol a little late because of the crash, but this is my longest layover so plenty of time to kill,” Thomas tweeted at 12:44 p.m. “Gonna grab lunch at a nice local pizza shop!”

Thomas didn’t provide details about his pie but still kept the updates coming.

“Was worried about missing my 32 -> 31 transfer, but the Bus Operator just told me he’s interlining, so this bus and driver will be taking me all the way to Northampton!” a delighted Thomas tweeted at 2:52 p.m. “He just has a quick layover at the JWO Transit Center and we’ll be on our last leg!”

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Then at 3:01 p.m., Thomas tweeted that he was on the home stretch.

“And we’re off on the last leg!" he wrote. "See you in 45min Northampton!”

Thomas’s daylong journey was over by 4 p.m.

Ask Google how to get to Northampton from Cambridge on public transit and it tells you to just use a Peter Pan bus. But not Thomas.

Thomas’s tweets caught the attention of the Globe’s transit reporter, Adam Vaccaro, who tweeted that Thomas’s thread “has given some rhythm to my sleepy mid-holiday Monday.”

It wasn’t just Vaccaro who took notice.

Robert Kearns of the state Sierra Club chapter tweeted at one point to Thomas, “Have you taken the Lake Shore Limited from Boston? Also the Valley Flyer on the Connecticut River line? They are nice trips.”

Thomas responded succinctly, with more exclamation points.

“I haven’t!” Thomas tweeted. "I’ll have to try it!



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him @jeremycfox.