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MBTA hears commuters who hate stuffing dollar bills into slots

The MBTA has begun experimenting with a system that lets commuter-rail and ferry riders pay for parking by cell phone instead by rolling up all those dollar bills to stuff into those tiny slots at parking lots.

The new system, at parking lots along the Kingston line and at the Quincy and Hingham commuter-boat terminals, lets riders set up accounts and then dial a toll-free number to have the day's parking fee charged to their credit cards:

Upon creating a free pay by phone account, customers call the toll free number from their mobile phone, key in the location and parking numbers, and the parking fee is charged to their credit/debit card.

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Comments

OK, I'm willing to give the MBTA an 'A' for effort on this one. But how much money are they spending on this system rather then... Say... Replacing the honor boxes facades with ones that have larger holes?

Also, does anyone here really trust the MBTA to guard their credit card information?

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How about how do you contest a ticket? Not so much as a piece of paper. Database dumps your info and you're SOL.

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...you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Come on. How many times has a charge company just had its "database dump your info" without any way to restore it, etc?

How many times has someone put their money in one of those boxes and had it fall between the door and slots or some other nonsense that led to incorrectly assigned tickets? Or someone had jammed the slit with gum or something?

Any "while I'm away" collection system is going to have issues. It's the nature of the beast. I'm guessing that there will be far fewer problems/complaints with a phone-in system that you can do on the move as you're late for the train than the current toll box system that seems more designed for coins or something than 4 $1's.

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When you get a bad ticket, and you want to appeal, you have to provide some proof. How's that proof going to come again? I'd want to see some planning for that. I did my benefits choices a month ago, and the db dumped all my data so I had to go do it again. What happens when your cell connection drops - did you click? Did you not click?

The way they do the parking in the Back Bay, with the little sticky tickets on the window, works well. There's physical proof, with time and date, of when you paid.

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I'm not seeing the problem here. The current system provides no paper trail whatsoever. The phone based system should at least theoretically provide one. Sure, things can go wrong, the data can be lost. But which is worse? Something with absolutely no chance of any data? Or something with only an unlikely chance to not provide data?

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...How do you appeal a bad ticket today in MBCR lots?

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I used to just write a note on the ticket envelope - e.g. "I already paid." It worked just fine.

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Do I get a receipt?

You can view all your transactions by logging into your account at paybyphone.com. All parking charges can be printed off in the form of a receipt if required. This is great news for customers with business expense accounts or those who seek a pre-tax benefit for parking costs.

How does the parking enforcement agent know I've paid by cell phone?

When you pay for your parking by phone, your parking space number and parking time are automatically displayed on a handheld device used by the parking agent.

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Most phone and credit card accounts have web log ins where you can get a summary of activity. I would think a transaction record that says that you paid would be sufficient.

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When I buy my LinkPass. I'd be more worried about a down-on-their-luck waiter copying my card info when I pay for a meal...and I'm not even worried about that.

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Bueller?

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Charlie Cards? What are those? Oooooh! You mean the Charlie Card I was supposed to get Summer of 2007 as a Commuter Rail rider and haven't even seen any sign of yet?

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Why can't the T do the job completely, instead of in its usual not-really-thought-through fashion? If they can do pay by phone, why not a system which allows people to use credit cards, cash or phone? There are people who don't carry a cell phone (yes, there are); there are occasions when someone might arrive at the parking lot and discover they have no cash and need to use plastic. I feel the same way about the parking garages at all the subway stations: why can't we use a credit card? It's really annoying and frustrating.

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