things the T is doing well

Today being the first workday under the new fare structure my observations indicated by and large that things went well during the morning rush hour. A major reason for this was the fine work by the Customer Service Agents deployed at the stations. The CSA’s armed with a stack of CharlieCards in their hands did their best to make sure nobody was forced to pay the extra fare by not having a CharlieCard. The T got this right.

I rode outbound to Chestnut Hill on the B line and I found the drivers were incredibility patient in trying to explain to riders that they now must pay to go outbound. Some riders were understandably grumpy by this as this changes a system that has been in place on the Green Line for at least 30 years.

The fare inspectors I observed on both the B and D lines were very polite in dealing with riders. I observed one potential problem that the T will need to address. A rider got on the train at Copley and at Harvard Avenue he was asked to show his proof of payment and he produced a CharlieCard that had no value on it. He explained he paid $1.70 at Copley but the scanner on the inspectors wrist only showed that their was no value on the card. My best guess is that the inspectors will be instructed only to ask riders they see getting on the train above ground.

I would suggest to the monthly pass holders on the “D line” who have their pass on the CharlieCard to use the validators which are located at every stop as you will be issued a receipt will prove you have paid. Riders who are paying a single fare by either CharlieTicket or CharlieCard can also use the validation machines which deduct the fare and issue a recepit. Monthly pass holders who were given a CharlieTicket have no reason to use the validaters for now but expect this to change once the Commuter Rail switches to CharlieCard. When that occurs all monthly passes will then be on CharlieCard system wide.

There is a major learning curve for all of us in this switchover but today was an indication the system will work once riders get used to it.



Filed under CharlieCard, CharlieTicket, Green Line, MBTA, Orange Line

5 responses to “things the T is doing well

  1. The green line might be okay, but the Orange Line was a mess. I went to use my Charlie Card this morning at Malden Center and the machine refused it, telling me to “See Agent”. Problem being that there was only 1 agent in a crowded station lobby who didn’t stand out in the least. When I found her, she was muttering about how she wasn’t going to help anyone else who had problems with their cards and walked away. I yelled out to her that my card wasn’t working and she got immediately hostile and said she wouldn’t do anything about it. I snuck through an open gate only to nearly get arrested when I yelled at the T agent they had posted wandering the platform (which is precisely where they are NOT needed to help people get onto the through the fare gate). The staffing is completely inadequate to deal with the changeover, and it looked like the fare vending machines weren’t working right, either. I’m glad the Green Line wasn’t the disaster it looked like it would be, but the rest of the line may well have suffered for it.

  2. While a vast majority of the Customer Service Agents have been doing a fine job there are some that are really angry about being forced out of their token booths and having to deal with patrons. These are the workers who used to spend their entire time in the booth chatting on the phone and would glare at you if you wanted to buy a token.

    However one CSA that really sets an example is a woman down at Braintree. She has been at the station for 24 years and loves being outside interacting with customers. She is so happy the dreaded exit fare is gone.

  3. In my mind there are two kinds of CSAs. You have the ones who used to be token sellers who now hate being out of the booth and then you have the ones hired since the AFC rollout. Those were hired knowing that they would be working with people and they generally do a fantastic job. There are exceptions and some of the old timers are genuinely happy to be out of the booth and dealing with people though. I had a really nice and friendly CSA at St. mary’s street on the C line yesterday morning who chatted with me while I waited for the first train of the morning. Gave me a nice hearty good morning and was pleased that at least some people had charliecards and understood the new system.

  4. I’ll admit, as upset as I am about the way I was treated, this agent wasn’t getting the support she needed, either. That she was the only person staffing the station during rush hour on the first business day of the month with not only a new method of fare/pass collection but a fare increase as well is inexcusable and its nothing she had any control over. Responding with hostility to anxious riders isn’t acceptible, but its far worse that she was left there alone. That was a foreseeable problem, and the staffing wasn’t even remotely appropriate to deal with it.

  5. Anonymous

    Re proof of payment:
    Holy crap! How can they have roving fare inspectors, when they don’t tell people that they need to have proof that they paid?

    If someone gets on the subway with a $2.00 ticket and then throws it away, what exactly is supposed to happen when they’re accosted by an inspector?

    And I’ll say it again: this was supposed to be *Automated* Fare Collection, so it’s ridiculous that they have to pay so many more employees to check and validate fares on the Green Line.

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