The Silver Line takes over the city

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The Silver Line takes over the city
by Alison Barnet Contributor
Tuesday Oct 20, 2009

It was confusing enough when we had two unconnected branches of the Silver Line bus: one to the airport and Design Center (SL1 and SL2) and one that ran down Washington Street between Dudley Station and Temple Place downtown. In October, the MBTA began running SL4 and SL5-SL5 to Temple Place and SL4 to South Station via Essex Street. There is no SL3, a number once reserved for a tunnel connection, now remedied (or so the T thinks) by a bus to South Station.

Pretty soon, SL6 will take us from Temple Place to City Hall, SL7 to the Old State House. SL8 will take us down Bowdoin Street to Government Center, and SL9 will begin running from Mass. General Hospital to Economy Hardware via Fisher College. SL10 will go from the John Hancock Tower to Horticultural Hall, while SL11 will run from Tent City to Berklee School of Music. If you want to go from the Cyclorama to the South Boston Convention Center, take SL12, from Castle Square to Castle Island SL13. You may not be able to get a seat on the SL14 from the Animal Rescue League to the Peters Park Designated Dog Run or on the SL15 to Blackstone Square (Dog Park), so plan ahead. The SoWa to SoBo, via SoHa is SL 16-don’t get on the wrong bus by mistake!-the Hatch Shell to Pleasure Bay via Symphony Hall is SL17. SL18 will provide, at last, a North Station-South Station link.

When the SL50, connecting the Harbor Islands, is inaugurated, it will be a banner day in Boston. Don’t buy a Duck Tour ticket by mistake; they’re more expensive. Board at Harbor Towers.

Here they come, a phalanx of unwieldy, sixty-foot, articulated, gray buses. They would careen through our streets with a purpose, taking corners at wide angles and squealing their brakes, if only they weren’t bumper to bumper with each other, hopelessly stuck in traffic. It’s just like those 1890s photos of Tremont Street with a pile-up of trolleys going nowhere. You could walk across their roofs and get there sooner. Stuck on the wrong SL, riders panic, but drivers won’t open the doors until they get to a stop, and it looks like they never will. Yikes!

There’s a bright spot in all this madness. With so many choices, the SL5 is practically empty, and I get a seat at last!

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