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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Charlie sez...

It takes a cold day to bring out the true T riding experience.

I've been holding my fire on the Charlie Card until I could get a reality check. After all polite "validators" scanning my card at a Green Line stop that had been a "Show and Go" station is unexpected. Particularly when it is sunny and balmy (for January).

You need Boston at its best (or worst) to see how the T really operates. And it doesn't fail.

Reports of frozen fare boxes just add to to list of ways passengers get a free ride.

How about opening all doors at a stop (without a "validator") both outbound and inbound? People are dribbling on board -- especially when snappish operators are busy berating passengers to actually tap the card instead of just bringing it into proximity of the reader. (Is that another thing that happens when they freeze?) Nothing like a good hot temper on a cold day.

And sorry Charlie, but I don't think those big signs telling passengers to pay their outbound fares are going to earn back the cost of production any time soon.

Bone-chilling cold is also a good time to ask: where is everybody? Green Line trains I've ridden seem like ghost towns. I normally ride early, a habit I picked up early to avoid the rush hour crush. Yesterday, even though the stop was fairly crowded, I was able to maneuver the skinny Breda aisles without a great deal of hassle and only got one backpack in my face.

Of course I could have ridden in luxury if I had waited a few more seconds for the two-car train that pulled up right behind, as we were leaving the station.

And what was especially revealing is that most of that traffic got off at the major BU stops. Does that means lots of people called in sick to work yesterday?

Or does it mean commuters are abandoning the T for their cars?

I have a co-worker who did just that. Tired of hassles with commuter rail and navigating the mass of humanity that is North Station (not to mention Green or Orange Line connections), she dropped her card and opted to car pool with her husband. Arrives earlier and happier (and richer) than before.

I am eagerly awaiting the first reports on ridership loss from the new fares. And I would be equally interested in someone enterprising Globe transportation reporter did a survey of parking garages around town to see if more people have joined Dan Grabauskas in using the Personal Line to get to work because the T is not worth the hassle -- financially and literally.



Blogger Ryan Adams said...

The T needs serious reform.

I can barely stand it nowadays. We really need to invest in it big time - and reduce fairs to at least a dollar - to start to gain the trust of the public.

Charlie just doesn't get it. It's not about turning a profit; it's about getting people from point a to point b convienantly, easily and cheaply. It's about saving the earth from greenhouse emissions and being a real public service.

January 18, 2007 3:58 PM  

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