Standoff on the 65 bus

Alexandra Horowitz reports on an incident this morning on a 65 bus headed towards Kenmore Square:

Lady couldn't pay fare, everyone on the bus paid for her. Driver 65232 wouldn't go till she got off.

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    Good...

    By on

    If you don't have the money, you don't ride. End of story. You wouldn't walk into a Starbucks without any money, so how is a transportation service any different? Public transportation means that anyone can utilize it, not that it's free.

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    I have never seen a bus

    I have never seen a bus driver force someone to get off because they couldn't pay, usually they tell them not to forget it next time. I can absolutely understand if they are a constant offender but seriously even after someone else has paid for them?

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    Kudos to the bus driver!!

    By on

    I'm so tired of these jerks who think they don't have to pay the fare like everyone else. The T needs more bus drivers like this one!

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    No they don't.

    By on

    No they don't.

    Never mind what it does to the person who gets stranded -- I don't want my commute held up because a power-tripping driver makes an issue out of $1.50.

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    They're not all vindictive

    They're not all vindictive assholes. On my way to work one time on the 41 I was searching my pockets for my Charlie Card and the nice driver told me not to worry about paying. It wasn't until after I finally produced my Card that I realized that because of my (usual) somewhat down-and-out-looking attire the driver must have presumed I was homeless. He didn't try to embarrass me, or humiliate me. He was very discreet.

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    MBTA Drivers

    By on

    Thanks,

    I know several MBTA drivers, and most aren't vindictive assholes.

    However, what folks don't understand about being a MBTA driver is that a tough job. Unlike your 10 minute ride on the bus, they are in that bus for a good chunk of their shit. So imagine dealing with rude customers, strollers, wheelchairs, screaming babies, people screaming into their cell phones, slow old people, and every single MBTA annoyance out there, everyday, all day. After a while, I wouldn't be a very nice person after a while either.

    Sure it's easy to say "then if you hate your job, get another one". Easier said than done. Plus like any job, there is always going to be difficult people (either users, customers, or fellow employees). And keep in mind, for bus drivers, I'd take a guess to say that the MBTA has a high turn over rate because of the customer interaction (remember folks the newbies get the crappy routes, split shifts, and weekend work long before they get the cushy routes like we all see the MBTA-lifer bus driver get)

    I've been riding the T for well over 15 years now, and yeah I've had some total asshole-ish drivers, but for the most part, most aren't that bad. If you aren't acting weird and/or give THEM a hard time, they'll be nice back to you also.

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    Bus drivers

    A couple of years ago I began the practice of saying "Thank you!" to bus drivers as I exit the bus. It's been a very interesting experience in a number of ways:

    1) The drivers almost always respond graciously.

    2) Other passengers exiting at the same time also thank the driver.

    3) My own perception of the trip is improved by the pleasant interaction at the end. Even if it wasn't a great trip for whatever reason, I feel better about the experience if I just thank the driver, who is generally doing their best at a less-than-pleasant task.

    On rare occasions I'll have a driver who acts like a jerk throughout the trip, and I don't thank them, but it pains me every time to have to decide not to.

    Our family has followed the same practice....

    ... for many years. On our most often taken route (50), greeting the driver on entering (and thanking him on leaving) is now pretty routine by all regular riders. I have sometimes gritted my teeth over forcing myself to be nice to a new driver who initially seems ""mean" -- but most of these have sooner or later (mostly sooner) gotten "nice". (There _was_ one older lady driver who started out vicious -- and stayed vicious -- she was from West Roxbury, according to an inside MBTA source).

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    Things like this makes it bad

    By on

    Things like this makes it bad for other T employees that are nice. There is a young lady at Arlington T station, very sweet, always smiling and actually witness her dealing with passengers who didnt have enough fare let them on, but let them know next time try to have your fare for your ride and tell them to have a good day with a smile. That makes me happy to know that not all t employees are mean

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    I would speculate that when

    I would speculate that when the person revealed she couldn't pay the fare. I won't be surprised there was a chain of escalation. By that point, even when someone pays in place of the person, it wouldn't defuse the issue. There's a lack of context of what exactly transpired. It would look a lot more vindictive if the driver wanted her off as soon she show she can't pay. It would look far less vindictive if turned heated then both sides started being rude to each other then someone paid.

    Based on my experience, I would lean to the latter more the former. I seen hostile passengers then to be quite direct. Hostile bus drivers tend to be a bit more subtle. So I have a hard time going with the outrage sentiment with a desire to complain about the driver. If it was the latter, one could say he should have kept his cool better, but I still have a hard time going against the driver. He is still within his role to kick her off.

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    I've seen a driver kick a passenger off the bus....

    ... for being 10 cents short -- when other passenger offered to kick in the missing dime.

    This was several years ago (and no -- racism didn't enter in -- as both driver and passenger were of the same race).

    My sense is that -- at least on the buses I use -- the average driver today seems much more friendly and courteous than those of 10-15 years ago.

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    ?

    (and no -- racism didn't enter in -- as both driver and passenger were of the same race)

    It is 100% possible for people to be racist against people of their own race.

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    I disagree

    The driver's job is to drive the bus and collect fares. The fare was collected. Then drive the bus.

    Pretty simple.

    I take it that you have never "finished" a fare for someone, or handed someone a couple of dollars to complete a transaction at the grocery store because some harried person didn't realize that EBT cards don't cover tampons or other reasonable items and didn't have enough cash to cover it? I have. I have also ended up with a snarling, contemptuous clerk for doing so - even though I just made their job vastly easier and saved a substantial bit of my own time and that of those behind behind me for my contribution.

    Certain types of workers seem to get a certain measure of job satisfaction from feeling "better" than "those" people. They won't be deprived of an opportunity to humiliate another human being, if they can help it, even if they have to go to great histrionic effort to preserve it.

    To hell with that.

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    I have paid someone fare

    I have paid someone fare before thinking back. If my memory's correct, it went down that the person had no money in their card and I don't remember the trouble with refilling (no cash or machine issue). I jump in with my wallet and paid, the driver shrugged and we all kept moving.

    I can also recall an event, late at night, one person had no money and when the driver said "I need you to pay" the passenger immediately flip their ****. Offers to cover the fare by that point could have defused it and kept moving, but I have to admit I was more annoyed at the tantrum rage of the passenger than the driver regardless another can pay in that person's place.

    I have also seen bus that stop 10 feet after starting to take off and let me on. I have been inside the bus and watch the driver ignore passengers tapping at the door and kept going after the light turned green 10 feet from bus stop (technically he told me it is against the rules and would get cited).

    I never covered someone at a cashier line. Though I had been a cashier and used my employee discount to cover someone short. Yes, that's a wrong in its own way and it did came back to bite me.

    The driver in this context could have been your cashier itching to ruin someone's day. Or the driver could have been those drivers not willing to risk breaking the rule to open the door. Or the driver after the passenger exploded. Or even just the driver who usually open the door, but done it a dozen time that day.

    There's a lack of context. From my experiences, I been let on the bus pulling away more than left behind with me tapping at the door (or watching from the inside). Please don't start your argument saying I "'never' finished a fare for someone" like I'm some stingy prick never willing to donate a dollar. Thinking back, I am remembering enough behaviors from drivers and passengers. And if I have to fill the context with my own experiences, I'm leaning more to the driver than the passenger.

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    Oh yeah. I've been on the 39

    Oh yeah. I've been on the 39 when it's ground to a halt because someone couldn't pay and the driver wanted that person off the bus. Driver wouldn't budge until that person got off the bus or T Police arrived.

    I wonder if this person was a constant offender, and was essentially relying on holding the rest of the riders hostage to get the money to ride the bus.

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    If a person refuses to pay

    By on

    (for whatever reason), wouldn't it make more sense for the driver to let them on, then inform the Transit Police so they can detain them further down the line.

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    there's a racist lady who always tries to force her way on

    By on

    I was riding the 39 one day when I saw a woman stop the 39 by wandering into the street in front of it...and then getting on, and when she tried to just stroll on the bus driver demanded she pay. "The n****ers and the jews took my money" over and over, was her response. Bus driver told her to get the hell of the bus.

    A couple of weeks later, evening commute. Bus rolls up to a stop, driver opens the doors, and then says "OH HELL NO, YOU AIN'T GETTING ON MY BUS", snaps the doors shut, and steps on the gas.

    The mostly-white crowd looks completely horrified and I said "Fare evader who says a lot of anti-semitic and racist stuff. I can't repeat some of the things she's said."

    Bus driver says "No, but I CAN! That woman called me a n****er. She's not getting on this bus."

    "Damn straight", I replied.

    Basically: there are a handful of people in every neighborhood who pretend to never have change, or have a hopelessly mangled "bus pass" that actually expired a year ago, etc. The bus drivers know exactly who they are. You don't.

    I fully support bus drivers who put up a stand and refuse to enable their behavior.

    And no, swirrrrrly, people don't "suddenly" realize that WIC/SNAP doesn't cover tampons. They're just hoping to sucker the cashier or another person in line, which is why the cashier got pissed at you - you enabled begging behavior. The same people who "can't afford" tampons hop into their car and drive off talking on their $70/mo cell phone plan.

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    Enabling

    I fully support bus drivers who put up a stand and refuse to enable their behavior.

    So was I "enabled" when I forgot my express bus pass at home and I was allowed to ride inbound for free, and when I told an inspector in the busway in the evening about it all, did he "enable" me by telling the bus driver to let me on? Was I also "enabled" when I left work early to run to the CharlieCard store (to see if I could use my receipt to cancel the pass I forgot and simply get a new card -- I was told they couldn't do it) and then needed to get on the Orange Line and the nicest CSA ever let me through? No, I wasn't, because it was a mistake and I still buy my monthly passes and don't get free rides.

    Mistakes happen. And I'm grateful that I didn't have to shell out $10+ in fares that day. Also, I feel as though if I wasn't both white and dressed for work, then I would've been turned down. God forbid we "enable" any "deadbeats" like myself.

    On Valentine's Day, my credit card company froze my card out of error, and my fiancee were stuck in a restaurant on the phone for at least an hour trying to get it sorted out. The manager said not to worry about it, no need to leave an ID or anything, just go and come back another time. *Gasp* A private business "enabling" someone?! That's the job of wasteful government! No -- it's good customer service, unless you know someone has pulled this trick before. (And to finish the story, I finally got someone on the phone who could reactivate my card just a few minutes after being told I could leave without paying)

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    Sure...

    By on

    But if you ever have it happen again and someone tells you "no, you can't ride for free", then the next words out of your mouth had better not be "Oh, come on, but they let me do it last time I forgot!".

    Sure, sure, you'll post here about how that thought won't even cross your mind because you're a good person that just makes mistakes sometimes. But, yes, you've been enabled. You should have paid $10 in fares as a negative reinforcement to not forget something like your express bus pass that gets you $10 bus rides every day for much less than the cost of the pass.

    The rest of the stuff about leaving work early and having a messed-up Valentine's Day is immaterial.

    Also, I should point out that some enabling is fine. It's grease for social interactions. Do I care that they enabled you to forget your card one day? No. However, you have no evidence that this was the case in the original situation. You have no evidence it wasn't either. We need more context.

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    Customer service ???

    By on

    Unbelievable!!! Do any of these drivers get training in customer service? Clearly, the fare was paid for the woman so the T is not out any funds. Why should the driver care who actually paid the fare? I've seen plenty of times when someone was short of money to pay the fare and the driver uses their discretion to let them ride. It has happened to me when I have forgotten to renew my monthly pass and had to take the bus to the nearest subway station.

    This reminds me of another incident last year - it was the same day as the truck was overhanging the Zakim (8/9). A person, who was clearly down on his luck, possibly homeless, got on a bus at Haymarket. He had a handful of wrinkled ones and tried to pay his fare, but the machine would not accept any of them. The driver refused to let him board and he refused to get off. He kept insisting that he had money to pay the fare and it was not his fault that the machine would not accept the cash. So the driver called for the T Police and the bus, full of passengers at evening rush hour, sat there for more than 20 minutes - I got off and got on the next bus. A few people tried to pay the guy's fare by exchanging his crumpled bills with fresher ones, but the driver wanted none of it and insisted that the guy get off the bus. I reported the incident to the T, but the driver still drives the route.

    It's bad enough that the T is limited in what it can do by its finances, but the lack of customer service is not related to the budget. These "entitled" employees send the message to all of us, riders and taxpayers, that they are overpaid hacks that don't deserve to be employed. These unfortunate incidents overshadow those T employees that do help riders use the system.

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    Customer Service IS affected by budget

    By on

    One of the things the T would like to do is more frequent "secret shopper" type evaluations, where someone unknown to the bus driver observes their behavior. But there is no budget for this. By now the drivers know all the supervisors, so they can be on their best behavior when they know they are being observed, then back to their normal behavior on the next trip.

    There are definitely drivers that are known to be rude to customers, but when the union can get someone rehired after crashing a vehicle while high or drunk, imagine how much frustrating it is to get someone successfully fired for simply being a jerk to customers, especially if there's no paperwork from an official observation.

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    It's not a budget issue.

    By on

    It's not a budget issue.

    The T has plenty of inspectors. The problem is they don't do anything.

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    This is NOT a budget issue.

    By on

    This is NOT a budget issue. There are plenty of complaints filed by riders and not much ever happens. I, myself, have filed a handful of complaints about drivers and have never even been contacted about the issue. Personally, I think the complaints about T employees are buried by their fellow union members to never see the light of day. If the T never bothers to follow up on a complaint, do you really think that they are taking consumer complaints seriously? And the drivers know that they'll never be disciplined since their first response to any complaint directly to them is to tell me to STFU and call the complaint line.

    I want to be clear that there are T employees that are helpful to riders, sometimes going above and beyond. But their efforts are lost in the morass of dreadful drivers that think that there job is to drive the bus or train, and not move and assist the people inside those vehicles.

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    It's not a budget issue

    It's not a budget issue. The T has made it clear, by paying bus drivers $90K per year, and covering full pension and medical benefits for employees who retired at age 49, that they're fricking rolling in excess money.

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    MBTA

    By on

    Why don't they review the feedback they already receive from passengers, instead of paying people to pretend to be passengers? I attempted to file a report online once, found it annoying and they wanted unnecessary personal info of mine, I chose not to file.

    Requirements

    The only thing they ask for is a name and email so they can get back to you for follow up if necessary (and to confirm they received the complaint). They're not trying to sell your email to spammers. If you actually have something concerning to raise, just give them the email. Give them a fake email if you're paranoid about it. Hell, nothing stopping you from giving a bogus name, too.

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    Touche! I don't trust them! I

    By on

    Touche! I don't trust them! I may have to come up with an alias. If I recall, I had just arrived to work and didn't have time. I will follow through next time!

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    Passengers should not have

    By on

    Passengers should not have enabled her and helped the bus driver shoo the deadbeat off.

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    Grace of God

    But for the grace of God, there go I. Nice to see everything is going great for you. Your compassion for a fellow creature is profound!!

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    Not enough info

    Don't we need to know the passenger's race before jumping to further conclusions as to who was reasonable / unreasonable here?

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    Jeez, I find it hard to

    By on

    Jeez, I find it hard to believe that a company that turns huge profits, such as the mbta, would tell someone they can't get a free ride... Greedy mbta.

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    Decent people PAY FOR

    By on

    Decent people PAY FOR SERVICES RENDERED AND DON'T RELY ON STRANGERS TO PAY FOR THEM.

    The selfish woman refused to pay and held up people which did pay. How is that worthy of compassion?

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    Mind your own business

    Clannish, hateful bullshit.

    What these people choose to do with THEIR MONEY is their own business.

    How dare you call names at people who chose to make life easier for others - jealous and hateful, much?

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    I can see both sides

    By on

    And I've offered fare to people who need it on occasion. But I can also understand the frustration--there is definitely a core of people who do this habitually and rely on the combined frustration/compassion of the driver and passengers who just want to GO to pay their fare. Obviously on some routes this is rare, on others it's very common and refusal on the driver's part to let the fare slide can result in some very hostile reactions--adding in another calculation: do they want to risk getting screamed at, spat on, etc? So while this exchange sounds ridiculous, I'm sure it's not happening in a vacuum.

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    Once The Fare Was Paid, The Driver Should Move On

    By on

    More from Alexandra's Twitter feed about the incident:

    So sad. We were just trying to help and now this woman is completely humiliated.

    We've all been there before where we forgot our money or something.

    Why should the driver care who paid the passenger's fare? Once a fare has been paid, it's paid. He should have moved on.

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    What law?

    Does the law demand that my kids show evidence that they earned the money they use to ride the T?

    No.

    The fare was paid. The bus should move. It is that simple. Who paid it? Not the driver's concern. Not yours, either.

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    I think the anon's point was

    I think the anon's point was he didn't appreciate that your counterargument is based on calling the anon hateful and jealous. That post argued to dismiss the anon for the anon is full of hate than say "if the fare is paid, the rule is met, origin should not matter".

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    Have you ever misplaced your

    By on

    Have you ever misplaced your money or thought you had more? Have you ever been surprised by the cost of something when you go to pay for it? These things all happen to decent, everyday people - sometimes even on the bus. To be honest, I'm not sure what the cash fare is for a bus, because I use a Charlie Card. I wouldn't be a deadbeat if I attempted to board with 6 quarters when the fare was $1.75...

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    So it's my job to subsidize

    By on

    So it's my job to subsidize your irresponsibility? I work to hard for my money.

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    Who asked you?

    By on

    Nobody was being forced to pay this woman's fare, least of all some grumbly anon who has clearly never been down on his luck because he's so wicked smart and stuff and works hard for his money, so hard for it, honey.

    So you don't want to help this woman out? You think you're being scammed? Bully for you! Nobody said you had to help her. But that doesn't mean other people can't make a different decision.

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    Come on now, don't call

    By on

    Come on now, don't call people out for being anon like the rock n fitness guy did. Hey I left the rose colored glasses at home today okay. I think we all should help/enable others. Maybe we can help Elliot get enough money for that can of fix-A-flat so he can get his sick kid home from hospital. Or SSG can finally get enough money to get that train ticket to Worcester to see his grandmother/probation officer/rehab/ etc. You wouldn't walk into a store with no money, don't get on a damn bus. Ultimately I supposed I shouldn't care if these people are able to separate a fool from their money, but it sure ain't happening to this guy.

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    Needs more context

    By on

    It is possible that the person being thrown off the bus is known to the driver. I have previously witnessed a person who would regularly catch the same bus as me. He would get on and not have the fare and he was also well known to the driver. Someone who didn't regularly take the same bus would offer to pay the fare so we could get moving. This was like clockwork for a few weeks. I don't know where he was going (would get off after I did) and I don't know why he stopped taking the bus at the same time. But nearly every day for about 2 weeks, he relied on someone random to pay his fare and the driver just accepted it.

    I can see a driver getting frustrated and not accepting it any more and not wanting someone on the bus to have to keep paying for someone who refused to drum up the $2 to ride the bus before boarding. It's panhandling by kidnapping since we can't move until someone pays or they get off. They won't get off unless the cops come to make them and that takes time. It's rigged and someone ends up breaking because it's "just $2". But it's always "just $2" and it's always someone different who doesn't know they're in the middle of a regular scam.

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    I saw a woman pull this on

    By on

    I saw a woman pull this on the #66 a few times. When the driver told her to pay the fare, she just shook her head, said no, and sat down on the bus. She seemed like maybe she didn't speak much English but still knew what she was doing.

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    So What If It's Another Form Of Panhandling?

    By on

    The city has always been filled with panhandlers. Some people would rather buy someone a cup of coffee or sandwich than throw money in a cup. Other people may choose to pay the bus fare for someone less fortunate than themselves. So what?

    The difference is holding a bus full of people hostage

    By on

    The city is full of panhandlers shaking a cup of change at me. But that is not what is being described here. This is a person telling an entire bus full of people that they will have to wait 15 minutes (for transit police to arrive) to move unless someone puts $2 in the cup.

    Imagine a panhandler standing in the middle of a one way, one lane street, refusing to move unless a driver paid $2. Is that an acceptable form of panhandling?

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    If you're the irregular rider

    By on

    If this is your first exposure to the scam I was witness to, then to you it appears the person just didn't have the $2 that day. To someone more familiar (like the regular driver on a regular route), it's quite clear they have no intention of having the $2 and know they can rely on one of the non-regulars to pay up just to be nice/keep the bus moving/pay it forward/etc.

    They don't get on the bus and yell out "alright, suckers, here's the deal, I'm not moving until they throw me off or you pay $2, hope your day is ruined!".

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    ha.....

    What if they did do that though Kaz? Would the same people here think the driver should just keep moving once the $2 ransom is paid?

    (Off topic story: I remember was a kid trying to put as many nickles into the coin slot as possible and doing it slowly so the driver was forced to pull the change lever and not catch on that I didnt have enough money!).

    Sometimes the old drivers would just take dollar bills before they were allowed to. Thinking back i bet they pocketed it.

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    At what cost?

    By on

    Well, then why should any of us pay? I'm sure some kind soul will always be ready to pay for us if we inconvenience them enough. I'm sure with enough time and effort you could determine the breaking point wherein the kind souls to moocher ratio breaks down and is unsustainable however in practice it will never reach that far.

    Is this only a non-issue for you because it only happened once that you've become aware of? What if it happened at every stop on a line? How many delays would riders have to be subject to until it's too many? It may seem innocuous to you now, but if you're going to allow this instance, then you're going to have no argument against the next one or the repeated and regular use by the same person you've allowed to do it.

    Should we also require the drivers to keep a cache of donated monies whereby the kind souls could keep a bank of donations ready for the moochers instead of having to wait and delay everyone while the kind soul moves to the front to pay for the moocher? After all, it'd be additional revenue they wouldn't otherwise collect, and everyone gets where they need to go, so your checklist is complete again!

    If the MBTA is to allow anyone to get on, pretend to be missing their money, and essentially shake-down the bus for $2, then they become complicit in the panhandling.

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    It's a possibility. But I

    By on

    It's a possibility. But I think it's far more likely that this driver is just a bad apple.

    If the driver knew this woman was attempting to get a free ride every day, the driver should have told the other passengers.

    Also a possibility

    By on

    Thus my title: Needs more context. I wasn't making any judgements. I was making people aware that 5-6 tweets doesn't exactly make one side of the story, let alone two.

    My taxes go up every year to

    By on

    My taxes go up every year to subsidize people who refuse to pay their fair share. Let em all ride for free, hell I'm the only idiot that thinks it's right to pay for a service you receive. Funny how a lot you bitch about commuter rail conductors not collecting fares. That would save me a lot of money every month if I could not buy a pass and pay my fare with a bullshit story.

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    I'm not sure what the T's

    By on

    I'm not sure what the T's policy is, but most agencies have a "ask for the fare and move on if it's not paid" policy in place mainly for the safety of the drivers and passengers. They'd rather than than worry about escalating the issue.

    Then, of course, there is this 1980s-era bus training video from the Bay Area which is fantastic watching if you have 20 minutes. Just stellar.

    I was out in Minnesota this winter riding a bus on a weekday evening in a blizzard. I was standing up by the driver and chatted a bit with him and watched his interactions as people got on. A few got on with the "I forgot my fare" face or were short. He shooed them on to the bus, told them to remember next time, all in a Fargo-esque accent. Then as he pulled out of the stop he muttered something under his breath about them. It was very midwestern.

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