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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, December 29, 2006

T to Green Line Riders: Stop Whining

It appears the only thing wrong with the MBTA is that Green Line riders have been getting a free outbound ride since time immemorial -- and that's about to stop.
T officials say the overhaul will make the fares equitable for all riders. "If you get on the train, you should know that it's $1.70, and it's the same as if you're on the Red, Green, Orange, Blue, or Silver Line," Daniel A. Grabauskas , general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said yesterday. "It's a simplification of the system."
So said the man who doesn't ride commuter rail, let alone know the joy of having a backpack in your face as you squeeze into the narrow aisles of the Breda lemons, er, cars trying to make your way to a door.

The T promises the hand held "validators" will enable them to check fare cards at the middle door of the three-door train. Of course this is the same T management that promised three-car trains on the Green Line would speed service and that eliminating four stops on the B Line would speed service.

This is also the same T management that has never addressed the crush caused by the fare-paying Red Sox fans who jam onto trains at Government Center and Park Street during rush hour -- leaving little room for regular fare-paying commuters to sandwich in.

And it is also the same T management that has come up with scheme after scheme to try to collect fares except for the one that would have worked best: make sure cars operate with adequate headway so that 100 people don't jam up at a street level platform during the morning rush and force drivers to open all doors to avoid a riot.

The end of outbound "free" rides will slow an already slow homebound commute, particularly on student-heavy lines like the B and E trains for what is probably only a marginal number of riders (mostly those same students who will probably walk the three-five blocks now that they will have to pay).

A couple of asides to Mac Daniel: the system of no outbound fares dates at least to the 1970s, when inbound fares were doubled on the Green Line. The principle is still in play on the D Line, where you pay the full $3 inbound, for a ride that averages $1.50 if you didn't have the proper pass (and that included everyone with a subway pass).

And the reason few people are complaining -- except of course for bloggers here and here -- is because people know that it will fall on deaf ears.

A requirement for the next T general manager should be living somewhere s/he must use the buses and "rapid" transit system to get to the office. Find out what it's like to build extra commuting time to wait endlessly for a bus or Green Line car only to have them come in bunches.

Find out what it is like to walk to the office on exceptionally hot or cold and snowy days because the stop is not in the garage underneath your building (what is the closest stop to 45 High Street?)

Then perhaps complaints will be heard. And that there's no such thing as a free ride.


Blogger Brian said...

The notices they have up on the Green Line are little more than a cruel joke. Yeah, keep saying it will make everything faster and easier. I guess if you keep saying something, it just becomes true. Worst was their promise to demand proof of payment on exiting the MBTA. Sure, its "random", but I guess this really makes their use of "Charlie" as their mascot completely ironic.

January 02, 2007 9:51 AM  

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