Big-head mascots urge everybody to take the T late at night

Big-headed mascots and the MBTA

Photo of local and state officials and big heads by Eric Haynes, Governor's Office.

Late-night MBTA weekend service starts tomorrow night, with trains and select bus routes running until 3 a.m., as part of a year-long pilot to see if we really want later service on weekend nights.

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    Comments

    That DD Cup

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    Looks like his been hitting the crack pipe.

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    Because the Red Sox is

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    involved, and Dunks is apparently the official provider of lukewarm coffee and stale day old donuts for the team (perhaps that explains the 2012 season).

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    I happened to be at JFK this

    I happened to be at JFK this week, in the JetBlue Terminal. The coffee at the Dunkies there was blisteringly hot--in other words, good. I had to let it cool off a bit before I could sloooowly sip it. Wonderful. I almost went up to the counter to thank them, but I thought that maybe there was some kind of malfunction and they didn't mean to let the coffee get so hot.

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    Super Hot Coffee Is the Worst

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    That's horrible. Even at DD I need to ask for at least an ice cube to two in the hot coffee so it is only the right temperature and not the same as the Earth's mantle. Coffee is meant to be drank at close to room temperature so you don't burn yourself.

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    Seriously. I usually just get

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    Seriously. I usually just get iced coffee so I don't have to wait a half hour to drink it.

    Why DD? I'll tell you why

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    Why is Dunkin involved with this?

    'cuz when you drink a lot of coffee, you are up late and more likely to use the T's late-night service.

    That's why.

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    I'm guessing DD has employees

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    I'm guessing DD has employees who work odd hours and will now be able to use the T to get to work AND so they can stay open later.

    Happy, happy, joy, joy.

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    As I have said before, I think that this is great. Let's hope that people use it - because otherwise it's going away for a good long time.

    As an interesting side note, I wonder when we will have numbers on what this does to the late-night taxi business - presumably it is going to take a big hit.

    In any event, I feel obliged to say that I would much rather have had this crew together with such big smiles because they were announcing a new revenue stream and commitment to maintaining a good state of repair with 99.5% on-time performance as the standard. A guy can hope.

    Lastly, how do you think Marty felt about this photo op/announcement being in Cambridge? I was around state government long enough to know that this is a message. I just haven't figured out what it is, who it's for (can Marty already have pissed someone off?) and why it's being sent. (It can't be as simple as not wanting to do it in front of a closed Gov't Center, and Park St. seems like it would have been very convenient for everyone in that crowd).

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    Happy too

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    I do think this will work out better than the "night owl."

    I never used that service because it didn't get me home. Now that they started adding more of the bus routes this time, I plan to use it.

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    Maybe it's the fat tech expansion there.

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    I can't figure out what Kendall did to deserve it otherwise.

    I wonder if they checked the broken Matisse music contraptions while there.

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    Late Night T Service

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    This has been tried before. It didn't work then. I doubt it will work now. More money being thrown away. As far as so called corporate sponsorship goes, it will ultimately be the taxpayers and T ridership that will end up paying for it.

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    Late Night T service didn't work before

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    because MBTA management didn't want it to work. As for corporate sponsorship, it is a totally unreliable way to secure long term funding for any endeavor. Shame on the MBTA and the state for falling into the "easy revenue from advertising dollars" trap.

    Advertising and corporate sponsorship are also very insulting to the fare paying passengers and the taxpayers (and if you disagree, take a walk though the "NOAH" - er - North Station subway concourse).

    And if it's so acceptable as a revenue source, then why can't I put a sign advertisng McDonald's on my house so they can pay my property taxes?

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    Advertising

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    Roadman, I don't. its PUBLIC transit. I'm surprised we aren't bombarded with ads everywhere on the T. Floors. Ceilings, Walls. Every inch should be covered in advertising, the more the better.

    Look, I don't like advertising as much as anyone else, but do you have a better way to subsidize the T outside of service cuts and fare hikes? (and for the sake of the argument, let's not talk about employee aspects either, i.e. Pensions, Pay, etc etc). Because once you eliminate those three, you are pretty much out of options besides advertising.

    I do not believe its also a trap. Companies keep paying for it. If it did not have a good ROI, companies would stop paying for it.

    A small retail shop I contract work for every so often (office help), paid for advertising on the T (the bus lines near the shop), and it was a big success. We had so many new customers come in and use the discount we offered on our posters. The ad and the printing was very reasonable (The T did our printing for us at a cost to us). We are so satisfied, we're thinking about doing it again this year for our summer promotion.

    So it's not a crap. It does work.

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    The True Cost of the Ad Offensive

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    "Look, I don't like advertising as much as anyone else, but do you have a better way to subsidize the T outside of service cuts and fare hikes?"

    I just want it to be made perfectly clear, so that everyone knows, just how much of a fare hike the T would need to actually cover 100% of the lost revenue from ending the ad offensive and eliminating all ads system-wide.

    All figures are from here: http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/About_the_T/Financials/FY2014%20Operat...

    • Projected FY14 Farebox Revenue: $569.2 million
    • Projected Advertisement Revenue: $14.3 million
    • Ratio of Farebox Revenue to Ad Revenue: 39.8 to 1
    • Projected Total Operating Revenue: $614.6 million
    • Ad Revenue as Percentage of Total Operating Revenue: 2.3267%
    • FY13 Ridership: 391,902,586
    • FY13 Advertisement Revenue ($12.5 million) per FY13 Rider: $0.0319

    So, while I do have a better idea for how to the subsidize the T (land value taxes and allowing the MBTA to buy, sell, and lease real estate - every single profitable transit agency in the world makes its profit on real estate), since the T has committed to regularly hiking fares and the first of many routine fare hikes to come is already more than triple what the fare hike to replace lost ad revenue would have to be, no, I wouldn't be very upset at the truly massive 2% fare hike the T would need to replace ad revenue.

    I would, on the other hand, be extremely upset to have to live through the kind of crap the T would need to pull to multiply ad revenues by a factor of ten. Fortunately, diminishing returns would kick in long before that and I very much doubt the T will ever be able to extract enough cash from ad revenue to satisfy anyone who's paying attention and isn't an EVERY PENNY COUNTS political arsonist.

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    Still

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    it's still 15 million the T didn't have. This turns more into a "why not" kind of thing, as long as it doesn't cost $$ to run the program (meaning its end result is a gain, not a loss).

    Plus it gives you something to look at when the cell network is overloaded and can't surf/play candy crush while you wait for your delayed train.

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    Paper stuff on walls is dying.

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    It's just another dull variation on the theme of the world changed.

    Subway car ads are usually the equivalent of low cost public service announcements or hack diploma mills, medical test options and other low value junk.

    Every now and then some agency genius pitches a wallpaper thing for some corporate mega chump like Microsoft that has money to burn, especially for South Station.

    But most eyeballs are epoxied to five inch screens with intense and anxious determination while some sonic slop flow washes through ears. A few traditionalists work on books and newspapers.

    So that thing is a pretty flimsy revenue stream.

    Maybe they could combine it with a new line of scratch tickets.

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    Scratch Tickets

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    Maybe they could combine it with a new line of scratch tickets.

    That's a good idea. At least then one would notice the small pile of ads left on the seat before one sweept them to the floor.

    Maybe the T should sponsor a scratch ticket

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    Get a "T" symbol, win that prize automatically....however...

    ...get a "SIGNAL PROBLEM" or "MECHANICAL FAILURE" or "SCHEDULE ADJUSTMENT" symbol, then if the ticket's a winner there will be a (slight?) delay in being able to cash that ticket...

    ...even worse, get a "BUSTITUTION" symbol, the ticket's an automatic loser.

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    T slot machines!!!

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    Put em next to the Fare Machines with appropriate symbols like 3 Charlie guys for a jackpot.

    Hey, it's money

    It's money that the general public doesn't have to pay.

    As for corporate sponsorship, it is a totally unreliable way to secure long term funding for any endeavor. Shame on the MBTA and the state for falling into the "easy revenue from advertising dollars" trap.

    Advertising and corporate sponsorship are also very insulting to the fare paying passengers and the taxpayers (and if you disagree, take a walk though the "NOAH" - er - North Station subway concourse).

    Everybody likes to brag about Europe every time transit comes up, so I'll bring it up this time.
    Have you seen the ads on European transit systems??

    Just sayin'

    A few

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    Very few.. far less than we do here.

    However, keep in mind that transit systems in Europe are even more subsidized than they are here, so there's no real need, they aren't hurting for money like the T does.

    Plus ridership is much higher there than it is here, because Europeans do not see public transit as "something for the poor" like many Americans do. In Europe, people *want* to ride public transit and have it built near them, vs here its always an uphill battle to get stuff built, or to get additional funding for it.

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    Last time the issue was that

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    Last time the issue was that the unions wouldn't allow the late night to be treated as a regular shift. So every employee was pulling triple overtime. That has changed in the Night Owl v2.0 Mk1 r1

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    It worked until the 1960s

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    It worked until the 1960s when it was discontinued. As someone who tried to use it last time it was revived in the early 2000s, it was not customer friendly, and its very different this time now that you can check by smartphone or text when the next bus or train (other than green) is coming and now that trains, not just buses, are included.

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    The Night Owl service was

    The Night Owl service was ridiculously cumbersome, and designed to fail. MBTA didn't want to do it. "We're not going to run the trains, but we'll run a bus system with poorly placed stops somewhere around the subway stations." I think I've mentioned before that I met someone who was very active in Boston (Whose name has long escaped me. He wasn't a politician, but more like a business leader who had money and influence to toss around.) One of his causes, 15-16 years ago, was getting late-night service on the T. His group thought it would be a good selling point for the city. Apparently, the MBTA stonewalled them. For every suggestion his group made, the T had a "Yeah, but..." I think the Night Owl was as far as they could push the T on this.

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    The secret Night Owl

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    I once casually knew someone who worked for the T. I mentioned in passing one day that I wish the T ran later. She said "why don't you take the Night Owl?". I told her I didn't know about it. She told me point blank "they (the T) don't WANT you to know about it". It was clearly designed to fail. Let's hope this new initiative has a better fate.

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    The MBTA web site from Sep

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    The MBTA web site from Sep 2001 featured the night owl logo at the top of the page:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20011008235900/http://www.mbta.com/
    and had a lot of information about it
    https://web.archive.org/web/20011018140313/http://www.mbta.com/schedmaps...
    Note that the 2001 web site said it would be a one-year program, although they actually didn't drop it until 2005

    My recollection was they actually made a pretty big push to promote it when it first started, they placed the night owl logo on all the bus stops that had night owl service.

    The 2001-2005 service wasn't a complete failure either. The B-Line bus and the "Red Line" bus to Alewife were always very crowded, the other buses were usually close to empty.

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    Charlie

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    Charlie from the MBTA would make a good match with Meryl Davis.

    I Have A Feeling They're Making Way Too Much Of This ...

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    ... it's only ninety minutes of more service, only two nights a week. They're gushing over it as though it's a really big deal, but it's rather insignificant. It won't be much help to employees who work in clubs that close at 2:00; they'd never have enough time to close up and then catch the last trains that leave at 2:30.

    Any extended service is welcome, and I'm glad the Ⓣ is at least trying. My concern is that because the new extended hour-and-a-half of service is so limited, it's not going to be useful to enough people to make a difference. After the trial period, I'm afraid they'll just give up again and say later hours on the Ⓣ will never work.

    Well, we'll see. In any case, I'm definitely looking forward to trying it tomorrow night!

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    It's a start

    Sometimes, before you commit to a huge chunk o' money, it's a good idea to put a feeler out to see how well an idea/service/etc. will go over. So, you throw something out there and see what the reaction is. It's a smart move, really. Is it going to make everybody happy, and solve everybody's transit issues? No, of course not, and that's not what they're shooting for.

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    Charlie

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    I looked at that photo probably ten times before i finally realized that that was the Charlie mascot, and not just a guy wearing a hat. Amazing attention to detail.

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    Why Things Are Different

    This will be better than Night Owl service for a number of reasons...

    1. Buses will not substitute rail service

    2. Service will be just like the rest of the day, as in -- in conjunction with #1 -- there are no deviations in routes (oddly placed bus stops with a lack of directional signage)

    3. 'Key Bus Routes' will also be operating

    4. Tracking apps (you can see where these buses and trains are)

    5. Cab hailing apps (you can much more easily/cheaply complete the last leg of your trip)

    None of the above applied to the Night Owl.

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