Wicked Good Guides / Boston Subway Stories /

Red Line

NOTE: Here are older Boston subway stories. For more current T tales, see Universal Hub's MBTA pages.

Compiled by Adam Gaffin

No leg to stand on

William Sainato writes:
One time on the Red Line heading inbound from Davis Square, my father (who has a prostetic leg) went to stand up so we could change for the Green Line at Park Street and his leg fell off. One old lady was so shocked she started to gag. I was only about seven at the time but my brother and I thought it was the funniest we ever saw. His pant leg was dangling and every thing.

Politics on the Red Line

Ben reports:

A guy got on the Red Line today looking a little drunk and wearing a top hat with the words "Manifesto Heterosexual Holocaust" (huh? those words all mean something, but I couldn't figure them out as a sentence.) He sat quietly for a few moments before he started yellingat us all "They let homosexuals parade around the Common!" and on and on, something about this about being the end of heterosexuals and something about how they wanted to violate us all. He seemed pretty upset about it. ...

Dan says:

So I got on the T from Kendall to Central after hitting the Ghettoria and I saw this flier. A photocopy of a G.W.Bush picture with the word ASSHOLE above it. I was yeah, right on. Its protesting Bush's $2000 a plate dinner at the Park Plaza Hotel. ...

Sick of (and on) the Red Line

Ben writes:
One winter day on a blisteringly hot train from Quincy to Boston, the train pulled into Washington St. I was riding one of the older Red Line trains. The car was jammed.

All of a sudden, a woman who had been standing and reading, holding on to a pole, bent over and threw up on the floor. Everyone scattered. The woman straightened up, and went back to her book like nothing had happened.

Sea chanteys

PM writes:
About 10 years ago, there was an older woman on the Red Line who would sing what sounded to me like sea chanteys. She was tiny and blonde (dyed, I'm pretty sure), usually wearing red, and she'd sit with her legs crossed and bounce her leg forcefully while she sang.

When she had finished her song, she would open up her hand to a "shake hands" position and bite the flesh of the V between the thumb and index finger.

I mentioned her to a friend one day and she said, "Oh, her! I switch cars when I see her!"

Wonder if she's still around. And I wonder what the hell it was she was singing.

The Red Line delivers

Discuss the woman who gave birth on the Red Line.

The Mattapan line

Round the yahd

San Francisco has its cable cars. Boston has the Mattapan High-Speed Line. A historical anachronism that still carries real passengers to and from work, the line features refurbished 70-year-old "PCC" trolleys that wend their way between Ashmont and Mattapan Square through woods, marshes and a cemetery and past backyards and old mill buildings.

The line attracts railfans from around the world:

Railfans love 'em
MORE... "The Mattapan line"

Complete darkness

Kingdafy writes:
I got on the T after work one day and the train had barely pulled out of Alewife when it stopped. After a minute the air turned off. ... then the lights went out except for a couple of emergency lights. There was no announcement about what was going on. The train sat there for at least five minutes with no air in almost complete darkness, then everything started up and the train moved on as if nothing ever happened.

Air guitar

An anonymous rider writes:
So I'm going to work early one morning (about 6:45am) and I get on the train at Davis. There are only about six or so other people in my car and I sit down. At the next stop (Porter Sq.), this huge guy gets on with sunglasses and a walkman turned up REAL loud. It was so loud that I knew he was listening to "Jump" by Van Halen. Yikes.

Anyway, because there are only a few people in the car, there were about 10 seats that separated each person sitting in the train. Needless to say, there were plently of open spaces to stand without violating anyone's "comfort zone." So this big guy walks onto the train and stands DIRECTLY in front of me so that both of my knees were literally touching his. Creepy. It gets better...as the train starts to pull away, this guy starts making some strange hand movements. I look up and realize that he is looking at himself in the reflection of the window and playing the air guitar to "Jump!" This went on for a good five to ten minutes. I had to laugh at the fact that there was some guy standing right in front of me with sunglasses and blatently playing the air guitar in public. Needless to say, I moved seats.


Kingdafy writes:
I was on my way to work this morning, and the driver forgot to stop at Harvard Square. We had passed through the station when the train stopped, then it backed into the station. I'm used to trains backing up a few feet when the driver overshoots a station, but I've never been on a train where the driver just forgot to stop.

Stuck on the Red Line

Angela Maria Lobefaro writes:
On March 8th 2003, I took the Red Line.

The rubber on the steps of the car was not glued well (where the yellow is painted on the border of the steps), my shoelaces got stuck in that hole.

I tried twice to pull away my foot - with other passanger behind me trying to get into the car, but my foot was still stuck. I turned to see what was holding my foot and pulled my foot even more strongly, people were waiting to get into the the car, and the car moved and I felt badly on my right shoulder, right hip, right knee, right hand.

My doctor yesterday came to visit me and wrote me 15 days of rest then physiotherapy. I had no time to complain in Boston as I was flying back to Italy on March 9th. And my flight ticket was not changable, not refundable. I will write to the T and send them my doctors prescription. A friend of mime was on the car with me, and also many other passengers have watched the scene. I am astonished at these serious problems the Boston T has; if I wer 70 I would have broken my hip. I am lucky just to have pains in my whole right part of the body.

Alrighty, then

J Slick writes:
Riding on the Red line into Harvard from Kendall. Black man across the aisle, well dressed, beret, folded handkerchief in his sport coat chest pocket... could have been a professor, I thought. I was the only other person in the car.

As the train slowed into the station, I noticed the other guy grumbling about something. Being a non-New Englander, I asked, "what's wrong"?



I was on the Red Line once going to a job interview on a packed train. This girl in front of me vomited everywhere and it was rolling back and forth along the floor. I am sure that isn't that uncommon but some acted like they had not noticed and some people just watched it slosh back and forth. It was weird.

Some people just shouldn't take the T

I was in the Harvard sq. tunnel once when the car broke down and the lights went out and this woman began screaming (She was claustrophobic)..

She was screaming so loud someone had to hold her down.

Very weird especially when you can't see what's happening in the dark.

Rail splitter

Once had a man stand next to a me and start mumbling that the metal rail was nice and solid, and he would pay up to $5 for it. He became more and more enthusiastic about the rail and its quality, and eventually began beating his head against it until he began to bleed. I couldn't get out of the seat because there was a crazy, bleeding man blocking me in. Fantastic!

Also have seen: nose picking, booger flicking, fingernail clipping, toenail clipping, vomiting, used condoms, and someone hock a loogie and spit it onto the floor of the train. After spending a half hour on the train to get to work, I usually feel like I need to be hosed down. However, after hearing tales of NY's subway system from my brother, I feel blessed that it's as tame as it is.

Gallant knight

Nurse Jan
I was riding a very crowded train one hot summer afternoon. standing holding on to a pole with multiple people. this little man very close to me.When I felt a touch on my private parts.I looked down to see him looking at me. I was embarressed so I just glared angrily at him. A few minutes later, he did it again and I said in a loud angry voice, "stop that!" This other man who was sitting near watching it, rolled his Herald up and stood up and hit him a few times on the head. Man to my rescue. Boy I have lots of Red Line stories, I think I attract all the weirdos!

Falling on the tracks

I was on my way to work one morning, and as I was waiting for a train at Downtown Crossing, I saw an older man (probably in his late 50s) walking with a cane fall down onto the tracks on the other side. He was not pushed or anything, he just wasn't paying attention to where he was walking. Luckily for him, there were no trains coming. A bystander jumped down, helped him back up, and gathered some of the stuff he dropped. His cane landed underneath the third rail and nobody wanted to get it. The man was limping but seemed to be okay.

Pull ups

Many years ago now I was coming home on the Red Line after leaving school early. It seemed like a typical day on the Ashmont train until we reached Broadway station. A very average looking man boarded the train. Once the train started to move, the invisible crazy demons went to work. He looked agitated and started to pace up and down the train before removing his shirt and dropping it on a seat. The fitness buff in him suddenly took over and he spent the next two stops doing pull ups on the moving train. He didn't seem to mind that there was a woman sitting directly in front of him as he grunted and groaned and yanked himself up and down in his barechested glory. As the train lurched to a stop at JFK, he snatched up his shirt, put it back on his body, started to button it up and left.

The stranger response may have been the fact that on this semi-full train, only about 12 people looked up long enough to acknowledge the freak in our midst before they went back to their afternoon naps and newspaper reading.

In the soup

Fred Sennott
Years ago police officers were allowed to ride and just had to flash their badge or be in uniform. This wasn't a gimme but was a benefit given to police depts. in the cities and towns the MTA served. Well this guy used to come through Harvard Sq. every day and flashed what looked like a gold badge. One starter kept trying to get a close look at it because he didn't recognize it. So he finally grabbed the guy and the tin was a soup can top. He admitted in court to using it for over ten years.

Zip it, bud

A couple years ago I was on the Red Line and glanced over at a tall man wearing a jogging shirt and baggy shorts. He was sitting just across, and diagonal from me. I noticed that he had his legs spread somewhat wide, and his "manhood" was hanging out of his shorts leg.

In my naivete I almost got up to whisper in the man's ear about his inadvertant exposure -- not thinking immediately that this was indeed for the shock value to the young women sitting directly across from him (and his own perverse gratification).

Somehow word was leaked to the conductor of the train, because at the Harvard stop, two policemen boarded the train...

The offender, ran down the interior of the car, his "manhood" trapped outside his shorts opening still, and flapping, as he ran to escape the policemen.

Certainly a story I'll never forget!

A real prick

I was heading home from an evening class at Umass-Boston, this was probably about 3 years ago. I was sitting on an end seat near the doors, and a guy wearing jogging attire/loose shorts was sitting directly across from me. It may have been the same guy that has been mentioned here already. His thing was hanging out of the shorts leg, but this time, since a female was sitting across from him (me), he was playing with it. Staring at me with a goofy smile, and jerking off. Needless to say, even though it wasn't my stop, I was off the train by Broadway.


Fred Sennott
Way back when I was a motorman in the Cambridge Subway (now the Red Line). I was doing the last westbound train to Harvard and we used to stop at Washington and Park St. stations to meet with the other last trains on the Main Line and Tremont Street Tunnel. I was sitting in my cab one night and i heard a train whistle and thought I was hearing things. Then I heard it again but just a little different tone. So I got out of my cab and there was a guy sitting on a bench with a whistle like device and he had an audience. His hobby was traveling around the country and recording train whistles on different railroads and then making these whistle things to imitate them. He could even duplicate our whistles.

Dirty men's underwear

I got on the Red Line at Braintree with a bunch of my girl friends about 3 years ago. I was the last one on and there was one seat left, but as I began to sit down I realized there was something on the seat so I just stood there. My friend kept telling me to sit down but I refused. So, she got up from across the car and picked up whatever was on the seat.

Turns out it was dirty mens' underwear that was once white but no longer. ... everything imaginable was on it and I mean everything! She picked it up and clenched it in her fist, and after realizing what it was, she placed it on the suitcase of the man riding next to her. She assumed it was his because she assumed he was homeless, although after some thought she realized he was probably just going to the airport... He didn't notice so she sat down in that seat and I took her seat.

My friends and I were crying from laughter at that point and the man sitting next to me suddenly leans over to me and says in a flamboyant voice, "Oh my god! Did your friend just touch dirty mens' underwear?!?!" I ended up talking to that man about dirty underwear until we got to Park St. I must say that is one train ride I will never forget.

Good old Harvard (station)

I was in Harvard station a few weeks ago and was walking from the lower bus tunnel up the stairs to the upper one and I smelled something when I got to the stairs. Then I walked into the stairwell and there was a pair of boxers with a dump in it lying there on the bricks.