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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

T is for tone deaf

Green Line commuters, get ready for the eight-hour homebound commute. You may as well stay at work.

Avoiding a discussion about what the MBTA has or has not done to upgrade the system into a reliable mode of transportation, let's focus on what the decision to charge outbound fares along streets will do for speeding up the homebound commute. The word improve does not immediately jump to mind.

The odd system in place today reflects the reality of streetcar service. More people get off the trains going out, so you need to open more doors. To accomplish that, once upon a time the MBTA charged a double fare on the Green Line inbound. One fare was for the surface, the other for the subway. Travel along the street only, pay only one fare.

A corollary to that was the lack of fare outbound on the street. The reason? All the doors could be opened if you didn't have to collect a fare.

The system being proposed by T general manager Dan Grabauskas (who doesn't ride commuter rail because it's not convenient) reflects what happens when people who don't use whatever system for which they are designing "solutions." It is, in a word, unworkable.

Collecting outbound fares mean only the front doors will open on the sardine cans that pass for vehicles. That means passengers must climb up and down the stairs along the narrow clogged aisles of the Breda cars, shoving past backpacks and hoping the itchy fingered operators, desperate to keep something close to a schedule (hah!) don't close the doors in the faces.

The MBTA is an antiquated and incompetent system that fails to provide service on any of its lines. Trolley and subways cars are jammed beyond belief. Buses are also so poorly designed that getting out the door is a challenge. Schedules are non-existent and T employees are for the most part surly and insulting. Why? After all, they have a place to sit.

Promises were made before the last fare increase that things will get better. The T has put together a glossy PDF talking about all the wonderful things they have done.

What executives have not done is ride the system. Red, Green, Blue, Orange. Silver or bus. That reality does not match the brochures. Schedules are a fantasy. Trains arrive one after the other, then nothing for 15 minutes, stacking up bodies on platforms like firewood. Until something approaching service is provided, commuters are better off paying outrageous gasoline prices.

Fight the fare increase. Get Danny off the MTA.


Anonymous Kristine said...

AMEN! I wouldn't mind paying higher fares if they were making serious efforts to improve service. I take the green line from Newton and the trolleys are old, slow, and wobbly. I can't justify spending MORE money to travel to Boston on those horrible trolleys. The red line isn't so bad but the green line leaves much to be desired. The MBTA needs to make some incredible improvements.

May 01, 2006 3:23 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Ostrander said...

I agree with the green line comments. My commute home is 15-30 min longer than it is in the morning and I can only see this making it worse. You should talk about the abomination that is the ultra-inefficient Silver Line Waterfront. It takes me 20-30 min to make a 1/2-3/4 mile trip to South Station

May 02, 2006 10:26 AM  

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