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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, March 25, 2008

Hiding in plain sight

Dan Grabauskas can learn a lot from the Miami Herald.

Similin' Dan has been on a PR offensive lately, actually talking to the Globe and appearing on WBUR and NECN to lament the MBTA's financial woes and promising to make things better. And of course he's promising to spend money he doesn't have to prevent ridership from slipping even more.

Today's latest -- a crackdown on fare evaders.

While I applaud the T for going after people who don't pay, here's a suggestion. Just like the Miami Herald learned in its stakeout of Gary Hart, you've got to watch the back door.

The Herald formally introduced presidential politics and "bimbo eruptions" to the voting public. Hart's affair with Donna Rice was chronicled in the Herald with pictures obtained by an all-night stakeout. Hart insisted Rice didn't spend the night, but had left through the back door. No pictures could verify his claim because apparently no one was checking the back door.

While that may have been in dispute, there's very little doubt that the T is hemorrhaging money through the back door of the Green Line. And sometimes the front door too.

Hop on along Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street, through the rear doors, and chances are you will get -- at most -- an admonition to come up front and pay your fare. Many folks will simply raise their CharlieCard high. No test to see if there is actually cash on it.

The problem is obviously most acute along the Boston University stops. Lots of people jamming onto already overcrowded outbound trains. If the spirit actually moves you, getting to the front is impossible.

And of course, sometimes the lost fares are in front. Expensive fare boxes that fail to work, forcing trolley operators and bus drivers to wave willing-to-pay customers through. Or accepting CharlieTickets without the time-consuming slurp-in to the register the fare.

I suspect a lot more cash disappears through the back doors on the Green Line than through the turnstiles in the subway. And a lot more good will as people see free riders enter and leave without much of an effort.



Blogger Tomas said...

From one Massachusetts liberal to another: While I appreciate your intent, I wish we could just leave the Hart story alone after all these year. He and his (only) wife have been married now one year short of 50. It's time to let them live in peace. As you correctly point out, nothing was ever proved.

March 25, 2008 9:44 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Sorry Tomas it was an cheap and easy line about back doors. You have a valid point.

March 25, 2008 7:31 PM  

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