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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Riding that train...

I'm thinking of pitching a new reality TV show: Transit Terror. Join Mary and Donna and Bill and Robert as they ride the mean streets and underground of Boston, forced to make split-second decisions on how and when to pay, where to get off (and avoid being told where to get off).

T general manager Dan Grabauskas and the Globe's Mac Daniel join Simon Cowell and the gang in judging a rider's agility and savvy negotiating the obstacles and the people who make up the nation's oldest transit system.

The theme song is easy.

The spurt of creativity was prompted by this news flash: the T has a boarding policy on the Green Line. The experience recounted by Sue and Katie are par for the course one month (almost) into the new fare system. Shouting, rude drivers in particular.

All doors now open in both directions (except of course when the operator opts to open the rear doors selectively outbound, deciding your stop is one of the losers because heck, it was just opened a stop earlier). Doors that stayed closed on inbound runs now open at every stop -- whether there is a validator or not.

Let's set the show on the B Line (home to BU's finest). Will they open the doors? Won't they? How many get actually jostle and bump to get in the front to pay their fares? How many people get a free ride? Do you wave your pass by the reader or do you tap (after being greeted by the "friendly" personnel?)

Will the brakes burn out and stack people up like cord wood waiting for the five trains right behind? Will the rear door open to the wall in Kenmore forcing you to run to another door before it slams shut and carries you away? Will you be crushed on the wooden railing in Copley Station?

And of course, there are the Charlie Cards themselves. Will it register your fare when you wave, tap or otherwise throw the device at the reader -- or will it record single or multiple fares? (Mrs. OL wonders how she can run through $60 so quickly when she doesn't seem to be riding the buses as much.) Why does the T think change is not valid legal tender?

And of course there's the monthly challenge about to be faced: will you be able to do anything with your card on the first day of the month when the monthly payroll deductions are supposed to be recorded? Or do you have a an expensive, worthless piece of plastic that will enable the operator to yell at you to pay cash or get off?

All of this without a major snowstorm or Red Sox game. We can keep this running for years! Stay tuned, we'll be back for more, right after this word from our sponsor: Toyota.



Blogger Suldog said...

I definitely like this! I posted something to add over at U-Hub.

January 30, 2007 2:50 PM  

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