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The idea of setting a record for speed on the MBTA may seem incongruous, but it is exactly what Adham Fisher wants to accomplish. The 28-year-old from Leicester, England, calls himself a transit racer, and Monday is the big day.
He joined WBUR’s Weekend Edition to talk about his plans to travel through every single station on the Green, Red, Orange and Blue lines more quickly than anybody else, ever.
Sharon Brody: So did I get it right? Let us know exactly what you will be doing tomorrow, and what this record is that you’re trying to set.
Adham Fisher: The idea is to travel to every T rail station as quickly as possible. The Silver Line will not be included.
Describe your strategy. I mean, you don’t just get on and ride one line end-to-end and switch to another line, right? I mean, there are some calculations here.
The thing is the T is small enough that I think you could do that if you wanted to. I’m aiming to do it as quickly as possible, so in some instances there are lines on which you have to ride end-to-end. But I think there will be a few unorthodox changes involved, shall we say.
Have you been to Boston before?
Have you heard much about the T? I mean, what are you expecting from Boston’s transit system — you know, about the many charms of the T?
I never have any expectations about any kind of rapid transit system before I actually go there and physically ride it in person. I gather the T isn’t — it isn’t very highly thought of in Boston, shall we say, from what I’ve been reading on the Internet.
You are a master of the understatement. The system, you know, it has a lot of idiosyncrasies. For example, here’s a heads up: on the Green Line above ground, at certain times of day, everybody has to funnel on and off the trolleys via only the front door. So I’m thinking if you’re thinking speed, that could hang you up a bit.
Fair enough. I didn’t know that. So thanks for the warning.
When you're on trains as a civilian, when you are not transit racing, how is that experience different?
It’s different in the fact that I don’t write anything down. But I always want to be first on a train and first off, really. I do tend to transfer as quickly as I can. When I use the London underground, for example, very often, I try and beat the crowd up the escalator, for example. If I just miss a train, if I arrive on the platform and the train is just pulling away, then I think, that — that’s a train wasted. I always try and stay ahead of the game, really.
As people are riding the T tomorrow, can you give us a sense of what you look like so if people see you, they can cheer you on?
I’m black, about 5-foot-8. And I wear glasses. I have a small Mohican, and I have the T symbol ingrained into the right-hand side of my hair.
So it sounds like, in a way, subways and trolleys are sort of your playground. And I’m wondering if city leaders in Boston or elsewhere, where you’ve already been, have picked up on how much fun and kind of, forgive me, goofball flair, you inject into public transportation, and what that might even mean for urban life?
‘Goofball flair,’ I like that. As a Bostonian, you know only too well, everyone hates public transport. Everyone moans about it, and one or two people have said to me, ‘Why would you want to do it?’ from the point of view that no one wants to spend one second longer on public transport than is strictly necessary. But what one has to appreciate is that without public transport, cities would be crippled. So, I believe that most commuters view it as a necessary evil, and if there is a way to improve the image of it, then fair enough. If the MBTA or any city officials want to sign me up on a temporary contract to promote the T or something, I shall happily listen to some offers.
- Related: Transit racer Adham Fischer helped create this song about every station on the London Underground. He has made many attempts, but has never managed to set the Guinness record for the fastest time traveling through every station on the tube. He has claimed victory in cities including Paris, Barcelona, Toronto and Chicago.
This program aired on November 24, 2013.
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