Citizen complaint of the day: Why do people who need to add value to their CharlieCard always get on the bus first?

A delayed citizen asks why the T can't have two card readers on every bus - one for normal people and one for the first-in-liners whose CharlieCards come up empty. The city will no doubt forward this to the T.

Ed. note: A couple weeks ago at Washington and Cornell in Roslindale, I saw a most amazing thing - a guy waved other people onto the bus before him because he knew he had to add more value to his card and he didn't want to hold everybody up. You go, good sir!

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I'd never actually file a passive-aggressive complaint like this

...but I always *love* seeing people wait at an actual bus/T station for 5 or 10 minutes (with pay stations aplenty) and wait to add value to the card until they are getting on the bus at the fare machine on board. Come on, folks-- you can't take two minutes to do that while you're sitting on your big butt waiting for the bus in the first place? And if you know you need to add value, why not wait until everyone else is on board so we can all get going? Oh, well. C'est la vie.

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or digging in their purse

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I feel the same about the ladies who stand at the stop for 5 minutes, and only when the bus pulls up do they start digging through their bag trying to find their card, pull one out, no dice, dig for another one, repeat. A related species are the ones who walk into a subway station, stand right in front of the turnstile to do said digging through the purse. You didn't think before leaving your house, "oh, I'm going to need this card, just like I do *every single day*, so maybe I should make sure it's handy"?

Wasn't part of the T's original budget proposal to have a $10 minimum for on-board charliecard reloads? Does anyone know if that's in the current plans?

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'cause we all know

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... that men NEVER do this with their backpacks or 47 sagging pockets full of crap.

No. Not ever.

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Yeah

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How about instead of two fare machines, the drivers could be trained to remind people of their manners if they're filling their card with others still waiting to board? Isn't part of being a transit operator making sure things move along?

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how dare you

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Who do you think you are, telling me what to do.

But in all seriousness, yes. It should be policy to tell them to go tho the back of the line and do their housekeeping last, while in transit. buses have scheduled, and holding up the line is holding up the scheduled.

It's as simple as that.

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I hate this, too. It is

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I hate this, too. It is especially annoying when we've been waiting for 10 or more minutes at Sullivan or Harvard. I think they do it in hopes the driver will wave them on without paying.

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hah

Nothing irritates me like the person who runs to the front of the line, cutting off everyone who's been waiting, only to get on the bus and have to reload their card. This person generally has crumpled bills or change, effectively making the process of being a complete jerkoff even longer.

x1000 angry points if its raining/snowing/windy/-20deg out

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fare machines at bus stops

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How about installing fare machines at the most popular bus stops (like Central Square), so you can reload while you're waiting?? The D line has managed to install these outside in proper shelters, so I don't see why they can't have a smaller version for bus stops.

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They will still be some who

They will still be some who just don't plan that far ahead. Though it would alleviate a good bit.

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How 'about a little sign?

At the front door of the bus: CASH TRANSACTIONS PLEASE BOARD LAST. Is that so hard?

Of course, to maintain the T's signage standards, it would have to be hand-scrawled. In Cyrillic.

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What's the difference?

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None of you are going anywhere until he/she adds value and boards the bus. Going for or last doesn't make a difference. If there's one seat left on the bus, and he/she was first in line, then why should they let others on before they get on?

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Because the bus can keep

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Because the bus can keep going while that slow person is standing there adding value to the card once everyone else is in and seated.

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Not nesccesarily.

Bus drivers frequently pull away and start driving while people are still up front paying their fare or adding money to their card. Now, whether bus drivers are supposed to be doing this is another issue, but... it happens.

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Federal law

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Federal law prohibits the operation of any bus while a passenger is standing next to the farebox. There is a white line marked on the floor, about a foot behind the driver's seat, and the law prohibits the operation of the bus while anyone is standing in front of that line. The law also requires the posting of a sign, which states the law. Look for such a sign above the bus windshield the next time you take a T bus (or Greyhound, Bolt, or Fung Wah, for that matter).

I pay my T fares with a Charlie TICKET because my commuter rail pass doesn't come on a Charlie Card. (I ride the bus much more than the commuter train, but a Zone 1A pass costs the same as a subway-bus pass.) It always takes the farebox a l-o-o-o-ng time to read my pass and the driver often starts up while I'm waiting for the pass reader. I have a bad knee (injured by falls on slippery stairs at a subway station) and as a result I can't walk on a moving bus without reinjuring my knee. When the driver does start the bus while I'm at the farebox, I have to grab the rail next to the farebox and hang on for dear life until the driver stops again.

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I don't think I've seen such

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I don't think I've seen such a sign on T buses. Could the law only apply to buses with interstate operating licenses?

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Look again

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Look again, more carefully. It's there on all T buses.

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Since making that post, I've

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Since making that post, I've ridden 2 T buses. One had the sign, and one didn't.

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If I am boarding the bus and

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If I am boarding the bus and I know I need to add funds to my card, I board last, and expect the driver to start towards the next stop while I'm loading the card.

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Better Yet

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How about a less cumbersome way to load the cards and some instructions on the fare box so you don't have to guess what "ugh grunt um gurgle grunt mumble mumble" from the driver means.

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Ban loading cards on buses at subway stops

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They should toss people off the bus who try to load their cards on the bus when they're at a subway stop. Make them load them at the machines, even if they miss the bus. It might teach some of them to plan ahead. OK, I know that's asking too much.

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T fare collection system

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I've never been sure if this whole new fare collection system of the past several years is actually an improvement over the old one. Remember the old boxes where you just dumped the change in the hole? I'm not sure that was so great either, but it was faster.
And I have never liked those sliding doorway things at the entrance to T stops as opposed to the old turnstiles. Half the time they don't work. And naturally, when they don't work there isn't a T employee in sight to rectify matters.

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I was going to post something

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I was going to post something similar.

For anything other than a valid CharlieCard, the new fareboxes are much slower than the old ones.

I can't believe the T's procurement managers approved this farebox design's stupid coin slot. Fast coin funnels had been in fareboxes for decades.

And why is dollar bill acceptance so flaky? These fareboxes were supposed to show a picture of the bill to the driver, who would press a button to accept it. So it wouldn't keep spitting back bills like a soda machine. But bills get rejected anyway, even while the driver is pressing the accept button.

I think there's a workaround if you insert a bill face-down. Many drivers tell people to do this. The machines are supposed to take bills in any direction. Maybe face-up triggers the buggy auto-accept software, and face-down goes automatically to driver approval.

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What's worse

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What's worse is how many people load exactly $1.25 onto their CharlieCard on the bus just to pay for that fare. Not only are they taking longer to pay than just using cash alone, they are getting a discount for paying with the CharlieCard ($1.25 instead of $1.50). I've actually seen bus drivers encourage people to do this! The T needs to set a $10 or $20 minimum to load your CharlieCard on the bus. Allowing someone to load exactly one fare onto it defeats the whole point of having the CharlieCard at all (to save time and speed up bus service!).

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The T needs to set a $10 or

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The T needs to set a $10 or $20 minimum to load your CharlieCard on the bus.

Wasn't the T as part of the latest fare hikes/service cuts proposal considering instituting a minimum value to be loaded on charlie cards?

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Here's the solution: Stop

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Here's the solution:

Stop accepting ANY payment on buses along key routes. On these routes make two types of stops - those that have Charlie machines at the stop or close-by, and those which don't and instead have an arrow pointing to the nearest stop that has one.

Bus #1: Harvard, Central, Hynes, Symphony, Mass Ave OL stop would all be of the first type, and arguably Charlie machines should be installed at points such as MIT, Beacon Street, Newmarket, etc. Stops like Main Street would have an arrow pointing you to Central Square if you want your Charlie refilled.

Exceptions only for disabled riders.

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Or just put fare machines at

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Or just put fare machines at every bus stop in the urban core.

London did this a decade ago.

(It's too bad the Charlie machines cost $300,000 each.)

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There will always be people who...

...can't plan ahead to load money on their card before they get on the bus.
Yes, of course it makes more sense for them to let prepared riders board first (exceptions for: elderly, handicapped, pregnant Moms, etc)

...don't step to the right, and move their stuff along with them while on one of the T escalators, to allow walking traffic to flow past them.
Yes, if they 'forget' it should be acceptable to say 'can you step to the right please?' while coming up behind them, and have them not be a sullen jerk about it.

...talk over the noise of the train, on their cell, regardless of how ridiculous their phone conversation is, and ignore fellow riders, but still swear confusedly when their call gets cut off by a tunnel.
Yes, they should also take in stride requests to tone down their chat or acknowledge that their phone reception issue is normal.

In short, a lack of common sense and an abundance of inconsideration my continue. That's not something the T can fix.

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because the world is not optimized to serve you

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same reason when you go to shorter checkout line at grocery, the person in front pays in pennies or splits the order between EBT, cash, and debit cards...

Actually, these annoyances don't happen that often, but they really burn us when they do, so we exaggerate their significance. Kind of like how we might start to get annoyed at folks who post such complaints on Citizens Connect...

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By product of cashless society

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All of this is a by product of our current cashless society. Things moved much faster when busses were a strict cash only policy. No filling of cards, no nonsense. Correct change or get the hell off. Likewise in supermarket lines. Someone ahead of me in line at a convenience store recently paid for a 99 cent bottle of water with a card. This is absurd behavior. What on Earth is so distasteful or complicated about carying around at least a little cash for small purchases? People now act like they have never seen or used actual cash in their lives.

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Um, what? The problem here is

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Um, what?

The problem here is that bus fareboxes are too slow at accepting cash.

Someone who wanted to go cashless wouldn't stick $1.25 in coins into a bus farebox. They'd have a CharlieCard with money or a pass on it. With the auto-reload feature, it's easy to go cashless.

(I don't think there's anything wrong with using cash. The T should be set up to include people who are ready to pay with good old U.S. currency.)

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Poorly designed electronic payment

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Might be worse than cash, but well done electronic payment is much faster. At the convenience store near me, it takes approximately 5 seconds to pay by credit card, and that's just because they still swipe it. I used to pay cash there until I realized it was slower to fumble with change than to just hand over my card.

The Charlie Cards with RFID are much faster than any other means -- until they run out of balance. But the answer to that isn't to give up on them, it's to find a way to refill quickly or unobtrusively.

For example, Bay Area Clipper Cards let you setup an auto-refill amount. If you dip below say, $10, then it adds a preset amount to your card, charging your credit card automatically. Obviously, that requires some setup ahead of time. Other places setup small refill kiosks in convenient locations near bus stops. Something to think about.

And all of this might become moot if they start combining credit/debit with transit passes. I believe there are some efforts to unify the systems, that let you tap your new RFID credit card on the fare gates, and have everything just work.

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Huh?

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Likewise in supermarket lines. Someone ahead of me in line at a convenience store recently paid for a 99 cent bottle of water with a card. This is absurd behavior.

When I do so it takes me 10 seconds and I'm out the door. Conversely, having to count out 99 cents, having the cashier check my counting out, and getting my receipt takes longer.

Don't get me stared on checks, EBT (because they're trying to see how far they can scam it), ect

Debit/Credit is the fast way possible. Faster than cash. That is unless your a technological lout, and can't figure out the button presses, as many of the older generation are.

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Ugh.

Don't get me started.

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Very annoying

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They should consider hand held card readers so when boarding at a station during rush hour one of the so called inspectors standing around chatting with the driver can assist in loading the bus from the rear. Instead you have to wait while the one reader jams or can't read the card slowing down the loading process. Next the bus is late leaving the station and the driver drives like a maniac with standing patrons holding on for dear life while falling over.

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The problem is the

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The problem is the technology.

You can't change the behavior of thousands of people.

But you can implement efficient technologies. Too bad the T didn't.

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As a twelve year MBTA Bus

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As a twelve year MBTA Bus Operator, I have contacted management countless times to inform them of the enormous amount of fuel that is being wasted when the bus sits idling while a long line of passengers develops as people are storing value on their smart-card. I'm at the point now where I won't even call that Charlie thing. It has cost the MBTA millions over the past 7yrs since its launch!
Also this system has been plagued with technical malfunctions as well as just human interaction with it, I notice people are unable to grasp the overall concept!

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What if all fare collection

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What if all fare collection paraphenalia were eliminated including turnstyles; as well as all of the people maintaining the machines and all of the people helping people to use the machines. Wouldn't that be the least expensive way to run the T and wouldn't the T run more quickly.
The T could be supported from general state revenues.

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Proof of purchase

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Small systems such as the MBTA probably pay more for supporting fare collection and segregated fare control areas than they're worth.

That's why they should just go to 100% proof-of-purchase, which will require legislative support to give it real teeth when inspectors catch someone dodging.

Of course, it'll never happen, so whatever.

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