How many times have you gotten to the T only to think 'Damn, I could really do with an iPod?'


People arriving at Forest Hills station today were puzzled by the sudden appearance of a vending machine selling digital cameras, iPods, GPSes, Bose headphones and video games (and, of course, portable devices to play them on). Knots of people kept congregating around the new "Best Buy Express" machine to gawk.

And then the questions started. "What's that doing at Forest Hills?" one guy exclaimed as he walked by. A girl went up to one of the T cops hanging around by the old information booth to ask how they'd keep people from getting jumped after they'd just bought, say, a $300 digital camera.

The guy who installed the thing this morning actually gave me and the kidlet a brief tour of its security features - from the special anti-smash-and-grab plastic film he'd put on the front to the way it uses a robot arm to grab your selection, located relatively far away from the front. He added there's now a similar machine at Alewife. And then we impressed, OK, bored, the kidlet with tales of our youth, when all you could get from vending machines were bottles of Coke and cigarettes.

iPods await



Free tagging: 


Why do we need these?!

I can understand why these have popped up in Macy's stores and airports, but T stations? This has got to be one of the dumbest ideas ever. I give this machine a week, MAX, before it is smashed and looted.
And as the subject of the post implies, if you can't last a T trip without some sort of electronic glow in your line of sight, it's just kind of sad.


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Yes, I suppose no one NEEDS to listen to music on the T, but what's wrong with enjoying a few tunes? Not sad at all, it's great! I'm sad you think listening to music is sad. That's a depressing outlook on life. Might want to consider adjusting your attitude for a more pleasant experience.

The problem, of course, is

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The problem, of course, is that the iPods don't have music on them yet.

I understand the idea of selling people impulse iPods. I just don't know what one would want with a non-Touch iPod at the beginning of a trip.

just does not seem

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like such a great idea at Forest Hills station.


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It's one of the HQs for MBTA transit police.


Thanks for the laugh. I needed it to get me through studio today before the break. =)

This is such a ridiculous idea. It's as if someone joked "let's put a BB Express vending machine in Forest Hills" during the crime report meeting and it got taken seriously.

I suppose it is just in time for the holidays, so if Dec 24 comes around and you still haven't bought your wife anything, you can pick up an iPod on your commute home. There's no guarantee that you'll actually make it home with it though... ;-)

makes total sense to me.....

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makes total sense to me..... they put them in the major commuter interchange stations, I imagine Back Bay, North and South Stations are getting them as well? Half of the hassle of Christmas shopping is figuring when I can get somewhere to buy stuff, if I were buying someone an ipod for xmas I would have absolutely zero qualms about buying it at a T station, in fact I'd be more inclined to do it.

Does this make sense in April? No, but it's not April. I bet they're gone in january.

I walk through Forest Hills everyday with an iphone, a nice leather briefcase, a wallet with multiple credit cards..... i pull out my phone to take or make calls, take out cards to buy my t pass, i pull my wallet out to buy a banana or a cup of coffee--this is not bizarre behavior as far as I know. Just because you are afraid of the scary subway doesn't mean everyone else is. I bet these will be very profitable for the next month.

I can understand the downtown

I can understand the downtown stations/interchanges, but just by looking at the crime history of Forest Hills and the adjacent neighborhood, it's cause for concern.

No one said anything about being afraid of the scary subway. I commute on the T daily with my gadgets too. We're simply looking at location and history. Time of day is also a factor. Forest Hills is pretty nice during the day and throughout the commuter times.

Ruggles would be an interesting case study. It's a dangerous station, but the large volume of college students passing through as well as commuters might outweigh the negatives if the MBTA police can keep a close enough watch. Nothing is guaranteed once you leave the station though.

How can you call buying a

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How can you call buying a $250 iPod an impulse buy? A lot of the people going through the station don't have the money for that kind of impulse. I've seen these at airports, but I have to assume they take in more money from electronic accessories, like headphones and chargers, rather than the electronics themselves.

Stocked with common buys?

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From Forest Hills, you have to get to South Bay or Fenway before you could buy any of these things from Best Buy. I'm seeing this primarily as a way to get people to buy their electronics from Best Buy without having to get to the nearest Best Buys.

However, these things are going to sell me Best Buy merchandise and I don't have to answer whether I want an extended warranty... or that I don't want to signup for AOL... or that I already have NetFlix??

Are we sure these things are actually put out by Best Buy? THE Best Buy??

I dont think it's actually

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I dont think it's actually about selling anything, it's more like a giant billboard that can potentially make a sale.

Wouldn't it be nice if instead of plastering Kenmore with Absolut vodka ads, they instead had a vodka vending machine?

So, between six months and a year from now

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Best Buy will realize these machines are neither generating sufficient sales nor are a good enough advertising ploy to lure throngs of people into their stores.

With the result that the machines will be pulled out, Best Buy will cancel its contract with the T, and the T's admen will have to find somebody else gullible enough to fall for their sales pitch. And which only goes to prove how misguided T management's reliance on advertising revenue to keep the trains running is.

And if you don't believe me, ask yourselves this question: When is the last time you saw a company that has bought into one of the T's "station domination" ad packages (like the horrendously idiotic vodka ads currently in Kenmore and North Station) repeat similar campaigns at T stations more than once?

What a wonderful opportunity

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What a wonderful opportunity for Best Buy to capitalize on stolen credit cards! You get mugged on the Orange Line or nearby the Forest Hills T stop, and the thief can instantly capitalize by cleaning out the Best Buy machine with whatever you had in your wallet/purse.

Maybe I should give credit to the MBTA/Boston Police for setting up a sting, but I don't think they're nearly that smart or innovative to have thought of such a trap.

What Next

Will they use the same face recognition software used by Japanese drink machines to load up a selection of songs based on your presumed age and gender?


I wouldn't expect you to

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I wouldn't expect you to believe me, but you do realize that such machines are novelty items in Japan, right? No one is going to take the recommendations *seriously*. They are meant to be funny. And yes, people will be more likely to use those machines for this very reason. Is that so crazy?

Um, yeah ...

I travel internationally, so I am aware that these are "novelty" things. I haven't yet encountered one, but I would definitely corral coworkers and see what would happen if I did.

I was also joking about the possibility of adding this feature to these vending machines. I thought it would be, well, an absurd answer to the "problem" of the iPods not coming loaded with tunes. Share and enjoy!

I actually know some UHubbers IRL, and had a lot of fun imagining the potential for mismatch of tunes and person based on simple presumptions about gender and age.

LOVE these things

I used one at the Mineapolis Airport over Thanksgiving last year... I had just bought a DVD and wanted headphones so I could watch it on my laptop. I bought a pair of iPod headphones, the machine rumbled, I grabbed the box that came out, put it in my bag with the receipt, and didn't look at it until the plane was in the air.

That's how I got an iPod for $19.99.


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Now there's a thought Adam

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If we're willing to accept the idea of having self-service in T stations, I wonder much revenue the T could pull in if they allowed Coke or Pepsi to install soda machines. In addition to the "occupancy fee", consider having the vendor bump the price per can or bottle up by an extra nickel or dime, with that amount going to the T.

Now that would be encouraging impulse purchases.

Yep - at some stations

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A lot of the stations already have places to buy drinks. Forest Hills has at least three.

It seems like a good idea at

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It seems like a good idea at face value, but what happens when the idiot middleschool/highschool/drunk college/sports crowd starts throwing readily available cans onto the tracks and around the stations? Right now the rotten lot probably isn't going to walk into a station with a can in hand to cause trouble, unless they are already drinking from it. Introducing vending machines to many stations is only going to induce more loitering, littering, and mischief from the same little bastards living out a Burgess novel.

Another example of why we can't have nice things because of uncivil people.

So, let's put soda machines in only a few stations

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at first and see if your predictions of dire doom and gloom and general collapse of society come true.

And there's an easy way to minimize the loitering problem. Put the machines within the paid fare area, if not down on the platforms themselves.

As for littering, I don't see how this would be any worse than the current problems with free Metros, or people who already bring food on the trains - whether they get it from an in-station vendor or somewhere else.

Still having this discussion?

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For the love of god, go to the Harvard Square stop. There have been Pepsi machines there for years. On the platform. Miraculously, the republic still stands.

Coke and Pepsi machines on the T

I recall Coke putting machines in many stations with special pictures celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boston subway. So that was back in 1997. A few years later most of the Coke machines came out and Pepsi machines replaced them.

Fix the Orange Line

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Who cares what they have in the Lobby fix the Orange Line so people are not waiting around in the lobby doing their Christmas Shopping.

I would like to see the ratio of breakdowns per week now. Everyday they have multiple breakdowns.