Whoopsie: MBTA says it goofed - new Brighton commuter-rail stop will have same fare as subways

Gintautas Dumcius reports that after creating an uproar yesterday with new schedules saying the new Boston Landing station would be in Zone 1 - and then compounding that by replying on Twitter to angered commuters that that was the case - the T says this morning the station will, in fact, be in Zone 1A.

The difference means a ride to or from Back Bay or South Station to the new station at the New Balance complex will cost $2.25, rather than the Zone 1 fare of $6.25.

The station is scheduled to open on May 22.



Free tagging: 


So when will they be revising

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West Rox & Roslindale's fairs as they are the only locations in the city currently zoned as Zone 1. (and HP, but they have a Zone 1A two blocks away)

Hey O'Malley make yourself useful for once.

Not a Boston service

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As has been posted many times on these threads before, it's about distance not town lines. Walsh, O'Malley have bupkis to do with these fares.

Really you should be referring to Sen. Rush and Rep. Sanchez as this is more of a state thing, but we all know they are useless so I understand why they didn't come to mind.

Well, sort-of

Walsh, O'Malley have bupkis to do with these fares.

Walsh and O'Malley have a degree of public visibility and public influence that makes them more effective at negotiating with the MBTA than, say, you or I would be.

Disagree on O'Malley

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The powers that be at the MBTA should care less what a largely powerless Boston city councilor thinks. I'd rate his public influence as very low.

Walsh with the Boston strong mayor system and regional prominence should have more sway but then the Legislature seems designed to reduce Boston's rightful dominance of regional politics (see licenses, liquor)

Ignorance is Bliss

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1) Walsh has no authority. It is a state organization. At best he can whine in the press.
2) O'Malley? Really? It's McCarthy's district (Roslindale and Hyde Park. O'Malley doesn't factor.
3) Sanchez? Only in part. Hyde Park is under Scaccia (Rep) and Roslindale has Reps Malia, Sanchez, and Scaccia taking a piece each.

Try to know who has skin in the game.

It's unlikely the T will ever change things unless there is serious pull at the STATE level. Fares are done by miles travelled. If they cit a deal with Boston (which they have done by the way) then all of the other cities and towns will want a deal, the T looses money, and it falls apart.

The deal cut for the Fairmount line is tied to urban redevelopment. There are several hands in that pie and the fare reduction is only a temporary experiment

West Roxbury

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Is in fact represented by O'Malley and has 3 commuter rail stations that outrageously priced.

Authority and Influence

1) Walsh has no authority. It is a state organization.

That's technically correct, but he has a great deal of influence, and in politics, influence and authority are somewhat interchangeable.


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So that leaves Hyde Park, Roslindale, and W. Roxbury the only Boston neighborhoods paying Zone 1 and 2 fares to get to work.


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Make a zone 1AA at $3-$4 - that seems a reasonable fare for that ride (Forest Hills plus a little).

At $12.50 it usually makes sense for me to just drive to Rozzie from downtown most hours of the day.

Yep, this

Call it 1AA or 1B or whatever, but paying three times the fare to go an extra mile is really discouraging. The bus to Forest Hills would be fine if it didn't take 20 minutes to go that one mile, but people in Roslindale face the choice of an extra $4 or an extra 15-20 minutes for our commute, which kind of sucks when you only live five miles form downtown.


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There's about 8 different bus routes that will take you to the Orange Line at Forest Hills.

I can say this as a fact

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Nowadays, the buses typically take less than 15 minutes to get from the Hills to the Square.

This is as opposed to 5 or 6 years ago, when I would be passing your bus while walking home. The flow has improved.

And on the other hand, the Orange Line, even with the annoying single track operation, is still more frequent than the Commuter Rail, so adding in waiting time and considering bus traffic, the Orange Line usually wins.

I don't know

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The outbound problem was at Firth and Bexley, but I don't see how anything at the light and turn changed. I walked home leaving Forest Hills at about 5:25 this afternoon and traffic flowed well. School buses can snafu the street, so the could have been a change there.

I haven't gone inbound after 8 in a while. That could get slow, but not slow enough that I was ready to ditch the bus altogether.


I guess you missed the part where I specifically talked about that and explained why it was inadequate.

Do you know

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How commuter rail fares are calculated?

If not, welcome to the Universal Hub.


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But the MBTA never instituted the promised Charlie Card scanners on the Commuter Rail, so pass holders can only get the promised ride if they have an "old school" monthly pass rather than a loaded pass, right? And you can't use fares loaded on a Charlie Card/Charlie Ticket, right?


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You'd need a zone 1A commuter rail pass, which costs the same as a subway pass, but has the zone info printed on the back: either a paper one from a Charlie machine, or a card if you get if you order your pass by mail each month.

You would not be able to use a pay-per-ride ticket or card, and if you pay cash on board, you won't get any transfers.

Thanks for that link

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I buy a monthly LinkPass but occasionally take commuter rail between South Station and Back Bay (it's free inbound but Zone 1A outbound). I don't want to give up the convenience of a card that you can tap since the majority of my trips are on the bus and subway.

Can you reload the commuter rail CharlieCard monthly at a machine or do you have to order by mail each month (which would still be a pain, but worth having the tapping convenience and not worrying about tearing or the machine eating it)?

You cannot load another month

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You cannot load another month's pass onto the cards. (You can only add pay-per-ride value.)

But ordering online is super fast and I've never had a problem receiving the pass in the mail one time.

and the reason...

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The reason you can't reload the monthly CR tappable card is because one side is printed with the monthly pass. Commuter Rail conductors can only check tickets or passes visually - they have no way to 'read' anything electronic. So you need a new card each month with the actual name of the month printed on it.

And it's a shame they can't

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And it's a shame they can't live up to the promise they made at the origination of Charlie Cards that they would have hand scanners and you just needed to load everything onto your Charlie Card forever.

There are no free rides on

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There are no free rides on the commuter rail, so you're actually a fare evader. Even if the conductor never actually collects your ticket or gives you an opportunity to pay. Which just goes to show how silly all the worrying about fare evaders can be.

Well, "free" meaning that

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Well, "free" meaning that Monthly Pass holders have CR in Zone 1A included in their passes. By having an awkward collection system, the T isn't allowing all passholders to use the service they have paid for.

I'm confused...

Sorry to be dense, but I have a Monthly LinkPass on my plastic Charlie Card that I use on subways and buses, and reload online every month for $82.50. I've never used it on a Commuter Rail train (the only Commuter Rail trips I've done have been far outside of Zone 1A or Zone 1). Are you guys saying that these cards can't be used on the Commuter Rail even within the Zone 1A because there are no scanners?

Correct. If you buy a monthly

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Correct. If you buy a monthly LinkPass for $84.50, or load a new pass onto the same card each month, you will not be able to use that pass on the commuter rail. The conductor has no way to verify what pass is loaded onto the card.

If you buy a zone 1A commuter rail pass for the same $84.50 from a ticket machine or at North or South Station ticket windows, you will get a pass on CharlieTicket stock with the pass month and 1A zone printed on the reverse, which you can insert into fare boxes and gates, and flash to the commuter rail conductor. But it's on relatively flimsy paper stock.

If you order the same pass at http://www.mbta.com/fares_and_passes/rail/ you will get a CharlieCard pass in the mail with the same info printed on the reverse, that you can tap at fare boxes and gates. You cannot load a new 1A pass onto this card the next month. You'll have to order a new pass each month.

Welcome to the backwards world of T fare collection.

But it's on relatively flimsy

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But it's on relatively flimsy paper stock.

Agree the CharlieTickets are flimsy paper. However, in all the years since they introduced AFC, I've never had a problem with my Zone 2 CharlieTicket pass lasting until the end of the month without tearing or shredding, and I use it for the subway twice a day, five days a week.

Have you ever run into the

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Have you ever run into the dreaded "Smart Card Only" message on Charlie gates that I'd often encounter when I had my pass on a ticket?

The basic problem with the "Smart Card Only" message

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- apart from the fact it demonstrates the T's unwillingness to properly maintain their fare collection equipment, and speaks volumes to the poor design of the equipment in the first place - is that there is no indication that the faregate won't accept paper CharlieTickets until one is about to enter the faregate and notices the message on the tiny screen.

That, and ...

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The fundamental lack of access to getting a charlie card in the first place.

Another problem is that

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Another problem is that CharlieCards have a name, and it isn't "smart cards".

Thank you for the terrific explanation..

...of a horrific system.

A brand new plastic card shipped by snail mail each month? What a waste of time and money! Give the conductors those handheld tap pads they sometimes use at crowded streetcar stops on the Green Line at rush hour to pre-clear Charlie Cardholders. Easy!

still amazed...

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that because my employer doesn't offer transit as a benefit that I need to call - not email or order on line - but call each month to order my monthly CR pass. What a waste of my time and the T's!

Conductors having hand-held

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Conductors having hand-held readers is not the solution either. Compare the time to flash your pass to the conductor with the time to reach over from the window seat to the aisle and have the conductor scan your card.

Tapping on and off and/or some sort of proof-of-payment system is the answer.

You can't register it either

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So don't lose it!! I've lost like 3 in the last 3 years and have had to replace it or load more $$ on my Charlie Card to pay for fares one way for the rest of the month (depends on when I lost it). If they won't add readers at the entrances to the concourses so that they don't have to issue new cards each month, why can't they issue sleeves instead of new cards? That way, they could be registered in case of loss as Charlie Cards, loaded automatically each month per your order method (I get from acct dept at work), can be used on readers on buses and subways, and the new monthly sleeve could include the text needed for the conductors on the commuter rails. Or is that too easy? Either that or let me punch a hole in the damn thing so I can put on my house keys or something - too easy for it to slide out of the pocket in my purse as it is.

The current fare system

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The current fare system contract is coming to an end relatively soon and pretty much everyone agrees they're going to switch to a new system (CharlieCard was rolled out really early in the whole RFID tech lifestyle, other systems have taken it and made improvements at this point, the software is proprietary instead of off the shelf, maybe we'll move to PoP). So no, they're not rushing out to buy scanners for the CR.

Would you invest in new tires if you're going to buy a different car at the end of the year?

They wouldn't need to buy

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They wouldn't need to buy scanners for the CR though - they already have them. That's why the T has all the handheld scanners that are sometimes used on the Green Line - they bought them intending to roll them out on the CR, but couldn't get the conductors' union to agree to have conductors carry them.


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That's the first I heard of it being a union issue. And I doubt there are enough Green Line scanners to give one to every Commuter Rail conductor.

Ticketing Technology

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Conductors Union did not object to the use of a scanner, they objected to the design of the original tap-scanner for legitimate safety reasons. The device was going to be velcrod'd in place on the back of a Conductors hand, tethered by a "robust"cord to a device on their belt. One mistake with the cord while getting on or off the train at a staton could result in said Conductor getting hung up and dragged. They ask the MBTA to look at either blue tooth technology or a smart phone device (Amtrak Conductors use such a device)

Lots incorrect

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OysterCard rolled out in 2003. All of London uses it and everyone basically loves it.

CharlieCard rolled out in 2006. It learned nothing from London (or any other smart fare system in Europe). It tried to do everything on its own. It has never lived up to its promises.

But all that indignance

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We had such a good thing going in the other thread... what are we gonna do now?


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1) Get someone to propose tolls on bike paths
2) ????
3) Adam profits on page views.

great idea, if only there

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great idea, if only there were bike paths to toll.
a faded white line with cars double parked on it is not a bike path.

sure, there is!!!

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The Francis W. Sargent / Thomas M. Menino Memorial Southwest Bike Tollway!

I suggest 25 cents for Canton to RCC, 75 cents for BPD HQ to Cass Blvd, and $1.63* to cross Tremont Street at Roxbury Crossing.

* EZPass available at the other two toll points, but an outrageously high, odd, cash-only, exact-change-only amount in the middle - just to make sure it doesn't accidentally become convenient or attractive.

All revenues go to

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All revenues go to maintaining the path?

You weren't paying attention. Something like that might be construed as making the path "convenient" or "attractive". Can't have that.

I'd put the revenue (net after payroll, taxes, healthcare & pension for the tolltakers, of course) into... oh, I don't know - a tandem tractor-trailer terminal someplace. Anybody know of any underused piping plover nesting grounds that are just begging to be converted?

Readville is Zone 2, a

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Readville is Zone 2, a monthly Zone 2 pass is over $200.00 per month. They are looking at adding 3-4 apartment buildings in the area around the Readville Station and advertising it as a commuter area... But with a monthly pass of $217 you are going to get more drivers then commuters. That area is already a traffic nightmare and no amount of street lights can support a hundred more cars.

Bitter much?

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Come on, you've been here long enough to know I don't take commuter rail, so they could charge $10,000 a ride and it still wouldn't affect me.

But don't let your anger blind you too much to the fact that the new station didn't cost billions because a) it's on an existing line and b) a neighboring property owner put up most of the cost.


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Finally, you tacitly admit that you are such a rich trust fund kid that 'they could charge $10,000 a ride and it still wouldn't affect me.'

[disclaimer for the dimwitted: this is a joke]

No one ever said That cost billions

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It goes like this: T has no money. Fares for the CR are used as a tax because it is imagined that only fund managers from the burbs use it. People who are not rich get charged that fare. Anger and confusion ensues. Next we have people insisting that billlions be spent to create a new subway to their hood, so that only Other people pay the higher fare. ( see Sin, City of). Back at the top the T has no money. This was our conversation.

Btw, I am not "bitter much" or an angry little man, but I would appreciate the chance to defend myself when I am accused of being a horrible person for not supporting the circular thinking above.

Well, the MBTA believe it or

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Well, the MBTA believe it or not, says it has more money in its capital plan than it knows what to do with/can spend. The operating budget and capital plan are different things. Also, commuter rail costs significantly more per rider to operate than the subway. The average per rider subsidy of the Commuter Rail is $5.25 a ride. The subway is 61 cents, and light rail is $1.39. The commuter rail stop in question (which was paid for completely by private money) isn't in the suburbs, and by the MBTA's own zoning standards (which go by distance) should be 1a.

Also, a Blue Line extension to Lynn would be huge for connecting more blue collar/working class people to Boston with reasonably affordable housing, and it would have pretty high ridership (compared to what, a hundred or two for the $2 Billion South Coast Rail and would provide actual rapid transit (which again is much cheaper per rider to operate). This also has benefits to people in other "hoods" in that it will reduce cars on the road and traffic for those not living in area around the extension, among other benefits. Is it your thought that money shouldn't be spent to expand rapid transit just because it only directly benefits one area?

Break the circular thinking

Why does the T have no money?

One side says it's because of ridiculous featherbedding, and deals that allowed employees to retire at age 50 with 100% of their salary as a pension.

The other side says it's because of some accounting sleight-of-hand that Charlie Baker pulled off when he was Secretary of Administration and Finance, that stuck the T with the cost of Big Dig cost overruns and debt service, to the tune of about $1B per year in funding shortfalls.

Whoa! Kids!!! Stop fighting, you're both right!!!

In any case, it's lousy public policy to pay for the excesses of the Big Dig and the excesses of past MBTA labor practices by squeezing service and increasing fares. We need to suck it up, pay for our past mistakes out of general funds, put in place mechanisms to limit similar abuses in the future, and move on.


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For the record, the pensions were reformed under Deval that you need to be at least 55 years old with 25 years on the job, and I think 80% is the full pension now.

OK, but...

.... I don't believe the reform was retroactive, i.e., we will continue to pay out for decades to those who retired pre-reform.

N.B. I don't blame the retirees or wish them ill -- a deal's a deal, they filled their end of the bargain and the MBTA is obligated to fill its end. I just think the MBTA negotiated a phenomenally poor deal on behalf of us.

Ah, yeah, I do not believe it

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Ah, yeah, I do not believe it was retro active, just pointing out that it was reformed. But, yeah, for current retirees, they did sign a contract and the MBTA agreed to it, so it would be kind of shitty to attempt to break said contract. The MBTA should and can negotiate better.