Among the many, many questions on the minds of frustrated MBTA commuters waiting futilely for delayed or canceled trains these days: How in the world did we ever get to this point? And so, courtesy of the MBTA’s own website, a quiz on the (sometimes) proud history of Boston’s public transit system:
1. The region’s first mass transit effort emerged in (A) 1931; (B) 1831; or (C) 1631?
2. What was the “omnibus” of the mid-19th century?
3. What sort of vehicle provided direct competition to the omnibus?
4. How many horses were employed pulling passengers on the local so-called street railway at its peak: (A) 800; (B) 8,000; or (C) 80?
5. True or false: At their peak of operation, electric streetcars could take passengers from Nashua to Boston to Newport, R.I.
6. In the early 20th century, Bostonians referred to the latest type of mass transit as “two rooms and a bath.” What were they talking about?
7. What was the origin of the famous folk song about Charlie on the MTA?
8. What 1980 crisis forced a restructuring of the MBTA’s governing board?
9. A mid-20th-century predecessor of the MBTA was the BERY. What did it stand for?
10. The development of the automobile and the construction of better roads created significant competition to public transit systems in the mid-20th-century. BERY was also hampered by another factor. What was it?