Our first case of commuter-rail ticket civil disobedience

The Globe reports a fed-up Fitchburg Line rider decided he'd rather make a point and get arrested than comply with a "Fare is Fair" order that he go to the ticket window to get a replacement for his valid, if faded, monthly pass.

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Question

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When will drivers with those illegible green letter plates have to turn them in?

Until then, this is utterly stupid.

My buddy lost his green plate

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My buddy lost his green plate 10 years ago when the inspection station failed him. It's a shame.

Why is that a shame?

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They don't meet modern standards. Just get a new plate. Big deal. If you can't memorize a new number, you shouldn't be driving.

Why should people be forced to get a new registration number

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just because the state decides to update their license plate design? Other states seem to have no problem with both updating plate designs on a regular basis, and allowing people with existing plates to retain their registration number on the new plates.

As an example, my uncle - who lived in New Hampshire - had a general issue plate number (not vanity or 'special.'). From the mid-1960s until he died in 1993, he had the same plate number, even though the plate design was changed three or four times.

If a very frugal state like New Hampshire can manage to do that, why can't Massachusetts?

Why is that an issue?

In Oregon, where I grew up, you can't transfer a plate - the plate goes with the car, not the owner. Each time you change cars, you change plates and change numbers.

I've had a bunch of different plate numbers in my life - it has never been a big deal. When we turned in the Jetta Diesel, we had already purchased another vehicle (it was January), so we turned in the plates that we had had for 16 years. No biggie.

Are you saying that everyone is too mentally challenged to handle a change in plate number? That would be odd. And sad.

Why shouldn't a person be given the option

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to keep their registration number when plate design changes, even if they have to pay a fee (as is the case in NJ, CT, IL, and MN, among other states.

Of all the people I know who still have green plates, everyone has stated that they woul be willing to upgrade to Spirit plates if they could keep their current registration number, even if they had to pay a fee to do it.

If the RMV can spend all that time and money playing musical branch offices every year, surely they can figure a way to let people who want to keep their old number at a plate change if they want to.

Either that, or go to the "plate stays with the car" system used in Oregon, California, and the UK.

Because

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That is costly and silly.

Costly?

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Not if you charge a fee for it.

Silly? I know several people who would disagree with ypu.

Oh there is a way

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It is called a vanity plate.

Because that is what it would be - a vanity plate, custom printed for you, and paid for as a vanity plate.

Except that the RMV rules will not allow

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you to reserve a number-letter combination that is in a general issue series. They also require that vanity plates be either all letters or all numbers.

How do I know this? Because, before I opted for my current ham radio plates, I investigated both options. Was shooting for either 961-SCT (general issue) or SCT-961 (vanity).

New Hampshire policy change

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New Hampshire changed their license plate numbering system at some point in the 1990s and must have eventually required all holders of the old numbers to change over to the new system. It used to be a combination of letters and numbers, now all numbers, issued sequentially so they're now up to somewhere above 400 0000.

No front plate required

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Having no front plate requirement for green plates is the ticket. Unless you have a truck who wants one of those ugly brackets on the front of a nice car.

Oh the Horrors!!!!!

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I have to have a license plate on the front of my car. Call out the WAAAHHHHbulance.

And have you looked at cars lately? Because they all have accommodations for front license plates neatly built into the bumper or grill.

We're not talking your parent's 1971 Skylark with the cheesy frame attached to an equally cheesy bumper here.

As I've said in other posts

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There is a demand among people to keep their current number when upgrading plates;

These people are willing to pay a fee to keep their current plate number;

Other states seem to have no problems with allowing car owners to keep their current plate number (usually for a fee) when changing plate design;

Allowing this option to people is consistent with the RMV's goal of phasing out "greenies" in a positive manner, as opposed to the current manner of threatening failure of the annual inspection.

In short, introducing a program whereby drivers can keep their existing number when plate design changes, provided they specifically request it AND are willing to pay a fee for it, is consistent with the RMV's stated goals of improved customer service.

If the RMV can spend time and resources on their annual "low number license plate" lottery, they should be able to figure out how to allow people to keep a registration number.

hm

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Is it though?

There are solutions to this too

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Registry will not exchange single green plate for same numbers (mine all numbers) in new red plates; I would have done that for my previously faded green plate, if offered.

Therefore, to keep my numbers from a faded plate, I found a helpful person who repaints them in a manner satisfactory to law enforcement and inspection stations. Problem solved.

Another foolish RMV "rule"

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Most other states (including New Hampshire) routinely change number plate design, and will issue people new plates with their existing license number.

Everyone I know who still has a "greenie" has cited the fact they cannot retain their current number if they upgrade to the new plate design as the reason they haven't done so.

But once again, the RMV puts their convenience above the demands of the people they serve.

Holy shit dude

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Most other states (including New Hampshire) routinely change number plate design, and will issue people new plates with their existing license number.

Citation please.

Maybe this is true in the quaint realm of New England, but outside of your idyllic paradise, this is not the case at all. When the plate design changes, congrats, you just got new plate numbers.

How often do you actually need to know your plate number and can't just go look it up somewhere? Is it such a gross inconvenience that you need for the state to spend thousands of dollars manually sorting/shipping out all the plates to the RMV office nearest to where each number owner lives? Can you possibly imagine how much of a burden that would be, how easy it is to get wrong, and how much someone like yourself would howl at the government for wasting tax dollars when that happens?

Give me a break.

Yeah, since I'm from another

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Yeah, since I'm from another state, I really don't get this obsession with keeping your license plate number. Even if it's one of those hereditary low numbers, which gets you absolutely nothing except self-declared prestige.

In other states, every few years you get a new plate with a new number.

Seems like a lot of effort

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For something so utterly trivial.

ps - get a new car and you will have to turn it in.

Nope

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Ever hear of transferring a registration? For one thing, it's cheaper. For another thing, a faded plate may flunk you at inspection, but it won't prevent you from transferring the plates when you buy a new car.

The numbers have changed

Ever hear of transferring a registration? For one thing, it's cheaper. For another thing, a faded plate may flunk you at inspection, but it won't prevent you from transferring the plates when you buy a new car.

The official government-approved designation for your vehicle's registration plate number has changed. Stop living in the past and accept the new designation.

It's a moot point for me

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As I traded my greenie in for ham operator plates in 2003.

But, as silly as it may sound, it IS an issue for enough other people. So perhaps the RMV should come up with a way to accommodate their requests instead of demanding blind obedience. As I've pointed out, other states manage to do this - the RMV should be able to as well.

"blind obedience"?

accommodate their requests instead of demanding blind obedience.

Is that like demanding blind obedience to the government-approved highway designation numbers, even if you've been using a different, more specific highway designation for decades?

Continuing to refer to the old route number

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after the roadway has been redesignated for over FOUR decades is the blind obedience here. Especially when the exit numbers, mileposts, and highway signs have long since been updated to reflect the current designation.

I think he got you there

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Since there are only a few things that need updating when you change your plate.

Which reminds me. I should probably tell the insurance company that my plate number changed. 4 years ago. And yes the plate was green before and yes I was bummed (except they for some reason let me keep the old plate) but it isn't worth my getting worked up about. As opposed to when the federal government made me start referring to Route 128 as I-95. I will never, ever, ever get over that.

Green plate

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Cannot be transferred. That's how I ended up with new plates years ago.

when you buy a new (or used) car-

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-you have to get it inspected when you purchase it.

Car dealers on the RMV's Drive Plan will not pass a greenie, because the Registry is on a mission for everyone to have red plates (so they can track you coming and going). The Drive Plan rules are quite tough, dealers are subject to spot checks and absolutely no dealer wants to be banned from the Drive Plan, which enables them to issue plates, stickers and registrations from the dealership so the customer (or the dealer) doesn't have to go to the Registry.

Source: I used to sell cars, the RMV didn't even want the salesperson to pull the car into the inspection bay. Even attaching new or transfer plates on the car while it was in the inspection bay was a big no-no as well.

The quasi legit ticket controller...

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.... should have advised the rider to exchange his ticket as soon as possible and let him board if he preferred to exchange it another time. If the rider wanted to take a chance the legitimate ticket taker on board would refuse it, that was his choice.
This only demonstrates that Keolis is not in the business of providing service or maintaining good relations with the public. Keolis is about making money without any investment in good business practices.
The clueless judge should have dismissed the case. No where have I seen any sign at North Station stating that one cannot be on a public transit platform without a ticket. Riders descending from the trains generally do not have tickets because the ticket takers usually punch them and take them on the trains.

The MBTA's claim that he

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The MBTA's claim that he could have obtained a replacement pass at the North Station ticket window is inconsistent with their own fare tariff, which states:

If electronic or printed fare media is unreadable by MBTA staff or MBTA fare equipment, a receipt from an MBTA Fare Vending Machine, Retail Sales Terminal, or an MBTA website must be presented in order for a replacement/exchange to be provided. Damaged CharlieCards or Tickets may be replaced at the CharlieCard store if they can be determined to be valid.

And then from the tariff's glossary:

Exchange: The act of exchanging a damaged or malfunctioning CharlieCard or Ticket for a new one. This may only be done at the CharlieCard Store or at a Commuter Rail ticket window with a receipt of the original purchase.

So the tariff is inconsistent about whether he could do so at the ticket window or only at the CharlieCard Store, but the MBTA's official policy is that he would have needed a receipt, which I highly doubt he had. I know I don't ever bother getting receipts from the machines.

When CharlieCards were new, I

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When CharlieCards were new, I didn't trust that mine would keep working all month. Since it wasn't human-readable, I'd have no proof of anything if it stopped working at the turnstile. So I kept the receipt in my wallet.

I think it's time to start doing this if you ride the Commuter Rail.

statement of fare

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Here is the latest version of the statement of fares, dated December 19, 2016:

https://d3044s2alrsxog.cloudfront.net/uploadedfiles/Fares_and_Passes_v2/...

"Fare is fair" violates the T's published fare rules.

Cash is accepted on the Commuter Rail, but a $3.00 surcharge per ticket applies to all Commuter Rail tickets purchased on -board in the following cases:
* On all outbound trains at all times when departing from a station with Fare Vending Machines
* On inbound trains on weekdays (non-holidays), when departing from a station where tickets are sold onsite. A list of locations of where tickets are sold is located on www.mbta.com.

No mention of having to show a valid ticket or pass before boarding.

I also have to wonder if these "ticket verification agents"

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actually have the legal authority to challenge those trying to board a train. Last I knew, the only people who can actually challenge the validity of a fare, or challenge those who try to ride without paying, are the conductor and his/her assistants on the train itself.

The transit police arrested a

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The transit police arrested a paying customer for trespassing, yet if a driver goes onto the tracks and hits a green line train and causes damage and delays hundreds of people they are not arrested. Such dumb priorities around here.

Perhaps if their 35 do-nothing

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"ticket verification agents" (official MBTA term) weren't allowed to act like they are the sole authority and presume that every commuter is trying to cheat the system out of a ride, it wouldn't have come to this.

When a lowly "agent" thinks they can override a conductor and block passengers from boarding a train (as happened to me and others a couple of weeks ago), there is something seriously wrong with your "verification" system.

And don't even get me started about the time that some of these "agents" went and got pizza, then sat down at the bar in the North Station waiting area after the train they were screening left.

Time to end this wasteful, pointless, and insulting farce now.

Not allowed to have lunch/ break

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I believe these people work split shifts, and like you, are entitled to breaks at a certain frequency. Does your boss complain when you get something to St?

Recognize that these are people trying to do what they have been hired to do. They are generally not the real decision makers.

Fair point

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However, when I go to break or lunch, I notify my boss that I'm doing so. There was no evidence these "agents" did so , as they just walked away immediately after the train left.

OK, I'll conced they were on an authorized break. However, perhaps they should have been a little more discreet about it - like not all seven going to get pizza at the same time. After all, they are in a very public place and being observed doing a job that many commuters consider to be a needless waste of time and resources.

You have no idea if they did anything wrong.

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I very well may be that their break was scheduled for after that train left. (You like to complain that there aren't enough trains in the middle of the day when you go home.) How else are they supposed to have breaks but where the train schedules allow? Somehow you think an entire crew walked off the job unauthorized, or are galled that they had the temerity to eat in front of you. We all have our problems with the CR, but come on man.

So, if someone sees a half dozen police

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on detail for a parade or a Bruins game or whatever walk away from their posts and go into a Dunkin Donuts, do you honestly think their first reaction would be "That's OK, they're all on break."

Similar situation here.

Making fares as inconvenient as possible

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I generally agree with the idea of checking commuter rail fares more frequently, but this is a great example of the T being as cumbersome as possible. To clarify: we have a CharlieCard system that doesn't work on the commuter rail (or ferry). Instead you have the option of paper ticket, printed plastic card, or app. If you order online, you can get a printed card that won't fade. But if you walk up to the T's very own commuter rail kiosk, you can't get a printed card.

He seems to have become a bit dramatic, but I'd be equally aggravated if I was told to go to the booth with a few minutes before the train left. Let me guess, there was probably one window open and a long line. Come to think of it, shouldn't this be an option at the ticket machines? (Reprint your pass; just put in your old one as long as magnetic stripe is still readable). Last Friday, at South Station at 5 PM, there was one working fare machine and a line of about 20 people at the window.

And let's not get started on the train probably having only two coaches open and those being located at the far end of the train from the station... (I don't take the commuter rail regularly, which perhaps makes me notice the ridiculousness of these arrangement each time I do ride.)

I ride the commuter rail five days a week

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And trust me, these arrangements are no less ridiculous to me.

There's also another issue that most people don't consider here. Because of the placement of the outbound platforms at many stations, the "board at the locomotive end of the the train" policy results in trains unnecessarily blocking adjacent street crossings as well. Melrose Highlands and Greenwood are particularly prone to this problem.

I would not agree to go to a

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I would not agree to go to a ticket window in this situation unless the staff agreed to hold the train for me.

What exactly should he have done differently, if he wanted to get home on time?

joke of fare evasion

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Could the T be at least consistent on fare evasion. They are all hyped about Keolis checking fares yet every day I see fare theft. I have tweeted, complained via web form and in person to no avail. Again this morning 3 people strolled through the open gate at DTX in front of the spiffy red shirted customer service no less as the gate beeped.. I asked is that okay and his reply was I can’t stop them. So I guess they are just there to say good morning? I counted last week and I saw 15 fare evasions on the orange line during my 5-day week. At least 30 dollars in un collected fares and a lot more in fines for fare jumping. Too bad no one at the T cares….

Green Street means free rides

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Green Street on the Orange Line is a regular place for fare evasion. No T staff. So folks just wave a bag on the other side causing the gate to respond as though someone is exiting.

But then the last time T staff was at the station regularly one staff person spent her time in the oval booth that replaced the original booth reading her bible. Apparently she was paid to read a bible instead of helping riders.

Another question: Why were the oval booths installed? To make fare attendants seem like customer service agents? Customer service agents who read bibles and then subsequently were not longer assigned to stations.

MBTA is a run by odd people. They spend money on projects that are used little or never. Such as the objects that were attached to the original booths (one is at Green Street) and then are left covered. So spending money to install objects that are not used.

Strange group of people.

Gee

No wonder the governor wants to privatize them.

Vote Democrat again.

Regarding the oval booths a.k.a Customer Information Centers

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Originally, the electronic fare collection plan was supposed to be totally customer driven, and did not include provisions for the Customer Service Agents (CSAs). By the time MBTA management added the CSAs, principally as a concession to the union representing the collectors/token sellers, the seller booths had already been designated as the locations for the guts controlling the faregates and sales machines.

Because of this, adding the "Customer Information Centers" (to use the term that's emblazoned on the front of every one) at stations was the quickest and least expensive way to provide a location for the CSA to hide from passengers hang out at when not actually serving people.

And of course, they goofed it up. At several stations (such as Boylston), the CIC is actually inside the faregates, and not adjacent to the Charlie machines. Of course, this doesn't make any difference at locations where the T no longer provides CSAs.

You seem more obsessed

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With what she read than the fact she was not doing her job. Would it have been better if she read romance novels?

The T should have know what the end result would be when they installed the oval booths. When they got rid of the old booths, the line was that the people who staffed the booths would be more visible and thereby more helpful. To be frank, that didn’t happen. I remember being at Downtown Crossing on a Sunday morning and needing some help (okay, I was looking to get a Charlie Card). There was no one around but a sign that said (and this is from memory from 4 years ago) staff came in at noon. I feel for the good customer service agents that are being replaced by contractors, but the others made their own beds.

Staff arrives at noon

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How is that the fault of the ticket agents. They don't do the scheduling.

Sounds like a bit of an over reaction all around

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This sounds like a bit of an over reaction all around. If, as the Globe says, you could see that it said October 2017 on the pass, why did the agent raise the issue, particularly given that it was the end of the month, which might explain why its faded. Moreover, if the T is going to honor paper tickets at all, it should have to provide this level of deference when they fade. That said, telling the police "you will have to arrest me"? A bit over the top. Yet another reason to do away with all of the paper tickets, punch cards and other nonsense that create, in part, the opportunity for fare evasion. The real solution is, of course, to put in fare gate technology at the main hubs and handheld card tapers for the conductors. Then they could not only beat down on fare evasion, but could actually tell how many people really ride the trains!

Why not adopt a system ala

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Why not adopt a system ala many German or French subway systems? Immediate spot fine of 50 dollars/Euros if you're caught without a ticket. Beyond that, game on.

They are

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Proof of payment is going to be the next system replacing the Charlie Card/Ticket scheduled to be deployed by 2020 I believe. PoP would be on the CR and above ground/no turn style Green Line stations, and the CR passes/etc will be unified with the rest of the system.

I'll believe it when I see it.

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After all, the commuter rail was supposed to be integrated into the CharlieCard system by 2008. And we were supposed to be able to buy food and drinks at convenience stores with our CharlieCards by 2010.

To be totally fair to them,

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To be totally fair to them, literally zero people want to pay for stuff using their CharlieCard. And no businesses want to deal with it. It was a decent idea, "payment convergence," is definitely a thing. But how could they (long before 2010) predict that the smartphone would be invented, and then ApplePay/Google Wallet? We converged around the smartphone, to the extent that it's now a very popular way to purchase and store MBTA tickets itself.

It was a great idea that just didn't pan out. I'm not going to bash people for not following through on outdated ideas just because they said so 5 years ago.

to the extent that it's now a

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to the extent that it's now a very popular way to purchase and store MBTA tickets itself.

Really. How's that "use the mTicket app on the subway" plan working out for everyone. Oh wait, it doesn't exist. Like CharlieCards on the commuter rail, yet another promise that the MBTA cancelled because they decided they didn't want to do it.

As for fare card integration with private businesses - it seems to be alive and well in Hong Kong, a population that's hardly devoid of smartphone use, for one.

When did they promise mTicket

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When did they promise mTicket on the subway?

I think it's a good thing you can choose to save $10 a month if you don't need the subway.

When mTicket was first introduced

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and they had the big promotion campaigns at North and South Stations, they specifically indicated that mTicket would be expanded to also be valid on the subway within the following months as well.

NO EFFING WAY. When they had

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NO EFFING WAY. When they had the free day as an "apology" for the months of disastrous service during the Winter of 2015 all of the monthly pass holders were rightfully incensed. We were the people who were largely impacted - not the occasional train takers who gripe that it's too expensive. When you have free days and still collect the full amount of a monthly pass it's a slap in the face to the most 'loyal' riders.

Amen

I changed jobs at the end of that winter solely to get away from the Commuter Rail. Stranded for hours every night in subzero winds at Dedham Corporate Center (no building there, you just stand there in the damn snow), and the apology was a free day of what I already paid over $200 a month for.

Hello there

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Some of us only ride the T when the weather sucks.

You got a rebate on your pass - you were probably just too busy hating the world in a fashionably bored way to notice.

Suck it.

I hate to break it to the Commuter Rail

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but if fares are down, it is because people are driving in due to still and continually crappy service. Aside from that, my husband and I used to take the commuter rail into Boston when we have an event to attend. Now we drive. Last weekend, $14 bucks to park all day in a garage near Copley Square. And it was valet parking to boot.

I have yet to have the conductor check my pass on the Franklin train that I take each morning out of Readville (6:53pm I believe). And then we have the incident last week at South Station when the 5:20pm Franklin had brake issues and all those folks climbed in our train, the 5:45pm Franklin. Due to the clusterf*ck in the aisle, no pass check that day. And then you have the nights when you only have one conductor for the entire train.

T contacts

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Let the following T and Keolis contacts know what you think of being harassed to show your ticket before you board.

Ronan Coatanea
Customer Service Director
[email protected]

Ryan D. Coholan
Deputy Director of Railroad Operations
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
[email protected]

Maybe the MBTA could figure

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Maybe the MBTA could figure out a way to print on a piece of paper that doesn't fade to illegibility within 31 days?

They could also maybe find a way to have commuter rail passes on Charlie Cards, a thing that was supposed to happen at least 9 years ago.

A waste of money, but not surprising

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I used to buy a monthly Link Pass, which now costs $84.50/month. I used the same Charlie Card for more than six years, reloading it with the pass each month at a fare machine. No problem.

As part of my commute for the past year I take the commuter rail from South Station to/from Back Bay. Conductors didn’t like my Link Pass, which covered the fare from South Station to Back Bay (it is free from Back Bay to South Station), because there is no way to validate it onboard the train from any old Charlie Card. That’s the fault of MBTA/Keolis, but instead they instructed me to get a monthly pass from the website (I refuse to get a paper pass because of the inconvenience of using the fare gates and the fading issue).

So now I have to go to the website between the 20th and 22nd of each month to order a Zone 1A monthly pass, which is a Charlie Card with the commuter rail pass with the month printed on the back. Each month I get a new Charlie Card mailed to me from “New Town, MA” (a typo for Newton with the Chestnut Hill zip code) and have to throw the other perfectly good card away.

The MBTA continues to throw money at the wrong problems.

By far the largest reason fares are not collected on trains is because of a shortage of conductors and overcrowding of trains. At off-peak times, fare evasion is essentially zero.

The problem can be resolved by purchasing new coaches and hiring more conductors to cover rush hour trains.

Start the process of converting the commuter rail to electric operations with high-level platforms like Metro North. That allows you all-door boarding and unloading, quicker dwell time at stations, faster acceleration and quicker trips, better air quality with the elimination of diesel engines, quieter layover facilities, better safety and possible less congestion with better train design for potential standees. Run better headways, and more people will take the train, helping with overcrowded roads as well.

Is it insanely expensive to do this conversion? Yes, but it will benefit the entire region and being our rail network on par with the 21st century. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be, and our highways are quickly approaching 18-hour days of gridlock, which could cripple the region's economy.

Completely agreed. One

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Completely agreed. One nitpick:

So now I have to go to the website between the 20th and 22nd of each month to order a Zone 1A monthly pass, which is a Charlie Card with the commuter rail pass with the month printed on the back. Each month I get a new Charlie Card mailed to me from “New Town, MA” (a typo for Newton with the Chestnut Hill zip code) and have to throw the other perfectly good card away.

You can buy the pass any day from the 23rd through the 22nd of the next month, i.e. you can buy your January pass any time from November 23 through December 22.

And I wondered too about "New Town", but it's actually correct:

https://tools.usps.com/go/ZipLookupResultsAction!i...

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DNkxepVXkAAz5Pp.jpg:large)

Unless it's recently changed, it's always been my understanding

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that you can purchase monthly passes between the 21st of the previous month and the 8th of the month the pass is valid in.

And, if you ask me, issuing a new RFID card for a commuter rail pass every month is just plain silly. Then again, so is the basic design for accepting the paper tickets at faregates. When I rode Washington Metro in the early 1980s (at the time, I had relatives in DC I would visit two to three times a year), their faregate system worked this way:

1) Approach faregates
2) Insert paper ticket
3) If valid, gates open
4) Walk through gates
5) Pick up ticket on other side (ticket ejected on top of faregate)

An easy and simple motion to accomplish that also keeps people moving through the faregates.

Unlike how the T handles paper tickets:

1) Approach faregates
2) Insert paper ticket
3) Wait (usually 5 to 20 seconds) for ticket to do the cha-cha before the machine decides it's valid or not.
4) Grab ticket
5) Wait 20 to 40 seconds for faregate to open - provided the faregate doesn't give you one of the standard "messages of doom" like "Re-insert" or "See Agent", which for pass users who re-insert their ticket are usually followed by "Pass Already Used."

Compared to Washington Metro, it's not exactly the best way to maximize efficient movement through the faregates, especially when people with RFID cards are behind you.

Not quite

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The old top dispenser design had the ticket eject in front of the faregate, not after it. So you still had to wait for the gate to open AFTER you grabbed the ticket. On WMATA, you would grab the ticket on the downward side of the gate once you had passed through,

PS - thanks for reminding me how the Charlie fargates originally worked - I'd forgotten about that detail.

"3) Wait (usually 5 to 20

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"3) Wait (usually 5 to 20 seconds) for ticket to do the cha-cha before the machine decides it's valid or not.
4) Grab ticket
5) Wait 20 to 40 seconds for faregate to open"

Nope, sorry. Change your stopwatch battery and time this again.

Who pays for what

Trouble is that Keolis would have to pay to maintain an adequate number of conductors on the trains. If 'fare gates' are installed, they can get the gov't to pay for those...

Of course, gates would not be fair either. You 'pay' at the gate, run out and the train is pulling away. Now you've missed your train and you're out train fare (Remember T policy is no refunds ever...)

Heat-sensitive?

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I haven't used monthly passes before, but they appear to be printed using thermal paper. That stuff fades pretty quickly depending on environmental conditions. I think friction (e.g. in a wallet) and heat will degrade it, but even just time is enough.

Depends on how they started

A friend of mine had to put up with having her pass confiscated because some dumbass bus driver decided that it "didn't look right".

She took it to several media outlets who managed to put the screws to the T to give her a full refund for her monthly pass and discipline the driver.

She got one in the mail that was already faded due to a printer running low on ink.

T police statement lying in Globe version

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In the Globe's story, the T police claim the passenger had 10 minutes to buy a ticket, but that rings untrue. The T does not announce tracks until there's 10 minutes or less to the train's departure. I mean - the frickin' train is right there, but the 5 or 6 private employees there to "check tickets" (unless they apparently don't like them?) block access to the track. (And is the T property no longer public? Can the police arrest someone on public property for trespassing when they have purchased the pass to be there?) So passengers are bunched up in hoards around the supposedly correct track until the powers that be decide passengers can board the train that's been there all the time. And the boarding never happens until there's fewer than 10 minutes to departure. Because why let passengers board in a trickle when you can create a rugby shoving match instead?

Assuming the passenger here was the first to have his pass checked, he would have had under 10 minutes to get back through the crowd of people boarding, get to the ticket counter, and stand in that line and go through the whole shebang again. Not to mention that he did not need to purchase a new ticket - he had one already that the private employees the T hired failed to properly recognize a valid pass. And then the T police - state employees - misstated what likely happened to the Globe when they asked questions.

This entire thing is bull.shit. Isn't next year an election year? Maybe Charlie-not-on-the-MBTA can finally DO SOMETHING.

Heavy-handed

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I have to say I find the police presence at the "Fare is Fair" checkpoints to be a bit heavy-handed. Bad enough they want to double-check my pass, but the police officer on the platform really amps up the presumption of guilt. I felt similarly when the trains were failing in the winter of 2015 and I noticed extra police at North Station in case we riders got so frustrated we decided to riot. It's easier to call in the muscle than provide service that keeps your customers happy, I guess.

Meanwhile riders inbound from Lynn never have to pay the fare.

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They just keep spinning stories until the train gets to North Station. They just wear down the conductors until they wander off. Just this morning a woman was trying to sell excuses instead of paying, when the conductor insisted she changed from story time to "how dare you" indignation, until the kid conductor apologized and drifted off. Sure is an solid system they have.

Have Starbucks run the damn system.

Plastic cards at every store that you can buy and reload with cash or credit (This takes about 9 seconds), credit card machines that work 100% of the time at time efficient intervals (3 seconds or less). Phone scanners that work on APPS 99.9% of the time that is also time efficient.

All this happens while other employees are making taking 3 minutes to make double half/half goat milk espressos.

I have a feeling the bid process is what is making this technology suck so bad.