Question: How many MBTA workers

does it take to diagnose a problem with the faregates at North Station?

Answer: No fewer than seven.

As I came into North Station subway this morning about 8:35, the faregates were really screwed up. There were very long lines waiting to get through, even though all but two of the gates were open. Even though none of the gates I could see read "Smart Cards Only" (which is an absurd concept in and of itself, given the number op people coming from the commuter rail), the gates were still randomly rejecting tickets and passes.

Finaly got to a working gate, which accepted my pass and gave it back to me. As I was waiting (over 30 seconds) for the gates to open, I noticed a group of at least seven T workers watching what was going on, with a CSA trying to explain to them what the problem was.



    Free tagging: 


    It's almost as if electronic

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    It's almost as if electronic computerized fare gates might have multiple points of failure, leading to hard to diagnose problems that would require more than one expert on site.

    If the first guy can't fix

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    If the first guy can't fix it? Absolutely. Moreso if it's a piece of lab equipment with both computational and mechanical parts.

    Generally they haul it back to their service lab, where everyone can see it. But yeah, every tech support job I've ever worked at, or had performed for me, has involved a team. Same with car repairs and serious medical procedures.

    wasn't the commuter rail

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    wasn't the commuter rail supposed to get the smart cards in 2007, a year after the system went into effect for subways? What happened?

    Commuter Rail Passes

    Why weren't there open gates with people checking the visually-marked passes as people waved them to speed up the process? Oh. Makes too much sense and no SOP for such "never happens" events ...

    Here's a clever twist on

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    Here's a clever twist on fare gates.......... In Tokyo, to speed things up, fare gates are usually open. They close only when you don't use a fare card. To enable this, the fare gates are longer than the gates we use here.

    Similar issues at Central Square

    I've been going to Central Square for the past couple of weeks and using Charlie tickets so I can be reimbursed easily. Besides gates sometimes running the ticket back and forth 6 to 8 times, there have been a couple of times after I take the ticket upon popping out, it took a full 5 seconds before the gate opened. And there was the one time that the gate stayed closed, said "see agent," and I discovered had deducted the fare anyway (I was at the side entrance, where there is no agent -- so I just paid for another trip. I'm doing my part in keeping MBTA revenue up).

    Charlie Card Passes

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    With the monthly pass on a Charlie Card, once or twice a month the gate fails to open and displays "See Agent" or "insufficient value". My theory is that its the part of the fare gate program that is intended to stop the second use of a pass by locking it out for twenty minutes after being used for access. (This is the MBTA's favorite meme, namely that its customers are crooked)
    From observation I believe the gate reads the pass again before it has time to open the gate and initiates the block. I stopped keeping value on the card after I realized that sometimes the card wasn't using the pass, but (with a valid monthly pass on the card) deducting value to open the gate.

    Starting with May, I now have to use a

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    Charlie machine-generated ticket for my pass instead of a T-issued one (my employer changed their benefits provider in early April). I can't use a tap card yet, becuase I take commuter rail.

    Although I have yet to have the 'ticket' pass rejected by a faregate, I can see and hear that it takes longer for the 'ticket' pass to cycle through the gate than with the old ones. May not seem like much time for an individual, but when you add it up, the cumulative delay can be quite large.

    South Station

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    I'm glad I don't have problems at South Station, so far thing go very smooth there and the people there are nice