T revises Green Line boarding policy again

The mailbag at charlieonthembta@gmail.com indicated some confusion on Show-n-Go on the Green Line in recent days. First we hear from Sue in Newton

They don’t seem to have made up their minds whether we still have “Show and Go” at Newton Centre or not. Usually they open the back doors but then the driver howls at you to come up to the front to pay your fare — whether you have a Charlie card, a Charlie ticket, a “validator” or anything else. Then, of course, you lose your seat …

This will be fun when they interrupt D Line service during Red Sox season.

What’s the official policy, if any?

Hmmmm The T had signs at all the D Line stations that “said” what the policy was supposed to be but they don’t seem to be following it.

Then this afternoon we got a long letter from Katie in Brighton who after a bad commuter morning last week decided to complain to the T and got a response back from them. It appears that the rules have changed once again.

I wanted to share a recent CharlieCard experience and pass on some information I received from the MBTA.

Last week, I witnessed a T driver shout at a passenger on the B line boarding at Long Ave. The passenger had a monthly pass on a CharlieTicket—the kind that still has the month clearly identified on the ticket. The passenger felt that this should allow him to enter at any door and “Show and Go”, as did I. This is in agreement with both the signage on the B Line and with the internal driver-instruction memo posted on your blog a few weeks ago. The driver, however, disagreed, forcing the passenger to insert the CharlieTicket as well as responding to his comments that his pass “says JANUARY on it” and that “this is taking longer and people are cold” with by shouting “We don’t do ‘Show and Go’ anymore. If you’re cold, you should wear more clothes.”

Since the new fare system was introduced, I’ve noticed that the drivers are terribly inconsistent about whether they open all doors (as someone who gets off above-ground on the B line both in- and outbound, this is a particular concern for me as I’m less willing to move all the way to the back when only the front door will be opened at my stop), however, this combined with the incredibly rude behavior and a bad morning was enough to inspire me to register a complaint with the T. (I’ve copied the letter and full response below.)

The most surprising thing about the response (other than that I received one at all) was that it states “Therefore, operators are opening all doors in stations and at stops where a fare monitor is present with a hand held validator. The Fare Monitor is able to verify payment on their hand held validators.

At station stops and locations where no fare monitor and or fare validator is present, Green Line operators are instructed to open front doors only and board passengers through the front door ensuring proper fare collection” (emphasis mine). This is in direct contradiction to everything else I’ve read and might answer some of the questions I’ve seen people raise about this policy. I think the T could really decrease problems with the system is there was a bit more transparency on these boarding and payment policies. And, in any case, the drivers should be trained to be as polite as possible to the customers.



Mode: Subway

Line: Green Line

Incident Date: 1/23/2007

Incident Time: 8:20 AM

Topic: Employee Complaint

Sub Topic: Rude/Abrasive

Route: Green Line

Vehicle: 3138

Additional Comments: This morning on a Green B train, I overheard the driver shout at a passenger. The passenger was carrying his T pass on a

CharlieTicket– the kind that still has the month written on it in large letters. He attempted to board the train without inserting his pass into the fare box– just holding it up in the “show & go” fashion. When the driver told him to go back, I believe he made a comment about the cold weather and slow boarding. She shouted that “We don”t do Show & Go anymore. If you”re cold, you should wear more clothes.”

While I think it’s inappropriate for her to shout under any circumstance (and really not what I want to hear during my already unpleasant early-morning commute), I believe that the passenger was in the right. Per all the signage adorning the B line that explains the “faster, easier boarding” policies (which I was unable to fund on the website to quote directly), the drivers are to open ALL doors at ALL stops on the Green Line, whether there’s a validator at the stop or not. It also says that passengers with monthly passes (I assume this refers to the exact kind of pass the passenger was carrying and not to, for example, my Link Pass which is on a CharlieCard and thus indistinguishable from stored value) can board at any door as they could previously. It then says that other passengers can board ALL doors and come to the front to pay their fare.

If I am reading the signs incorrectly, please let me know. However, from all indications, drivers on the Green Line should now be opening ALL doors at ALL stops. As someone who gets off above-ground on the B line, this is a welcome change and overall I’ve found the change to the CharlieCard to be a good change. Though this is not the first time the drivers have refused to open all the doors– perhaps they are not being adequately trained in the new procedure– this is the first that I have heard a driver treat a (legitimately) confused passenger with such disrespect.

Thank you for your time.

Name: Katie

City: Brighton

From: Feedback [mailto:mbta-fb@mbta.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 12:54 PM
To: Katie
Subject: Re: Fwd: MBTA Customer Comment Form: #070123521

We apologize for the confusion with our new fare collection procedures

on the Green Line. We appreciate your taking the time to write and

request further clarification.

In order to make the transition to the new fare collection procedures

as easy as possible, we are installing new signage and training all

personnel and customers in the new methodology. All passengers are

required to pay a fare when traveling in both directions on the Green

Line. Therefore, operators are opening all doors in stations and at

stops where a fare monitor is present with a hand held validator. The

Fare Monitor is able to verify payment on their hand held validators.

At station stops and locations where no fare monitor and or fare

validator is present, Green Line operators are instructed to open front

doors only and board passengers through the front door ensuring proper

fare collection. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have

caused you and appreciate your patience while we implement these new


So now it appears that Show-n-Go will only be used where they have fare inspectors.

While many cities employ an honor system with POP (proof of payment) and a rider is subject to inspection it appears for now the T isn’t doing that. If anybody at the T wants to challenge what the above information says the case number is included in the T’s response. The only thing I have done is to delete Katie’s last name.

If this indeed the policy I would hope the T installs some signs saying this.



Filed under CharlieCard, Green Line, MBTA, Proof of Payment

7 responses to “T revises Green Line boarding policy again

  1. The modifications are absolutely necessary due to the rampant fare evasion going on with the new system. Roughly 70% of riders stream in the back doors without paying if there isn’t a T employee validating Charlie Cards/Monthly Passes. Yet far fewer people board through the rear doors if there is an inspector there.

  2. Here’s my answer to the T. I will continue my policy of voting against any incumbent in office. I just hope that someone will run against my representative in the next election.

    Folks, we get what we deserve by letting these idiots stay in office.

  3. So all their promises about how easy boarding would be were all a great big lie. I’m shocked. Given how quickly they abandoned the system in the name of stopping “fare evasion”, it seems clear to me that they never intended to follow it in the first place. It was just another willful deception from the MBTA. Kinda like, “There is a train directly behind us”.

  4. Katie from Brighton

    Further proof they’re just making it up:

    This morning, I had the same driver—she only opened the front door at all stops except Harvard (when she made an announcement that she would be using all doors because “there’s a T employee in an, um, orange vest here.”) At Babcock (my stop) it was front door only, but when I got off the train, a Fare Monitor was standing right there and the driver of the first car had all his doors open.

    I asked the FM (who seems like a great guy, I see him every morning) if the doors were supposed to be opened and he said it depends on the driver. I pushed to find out if there was a definitive policy on the doors from the T and he finally said, no, all doors weren’t supposed to be opened at any stop because “we’re trying to get people used to using the front.” And then he reiterated that it was really dependent on the driver.

    I’m thinking the T should add something to all the signs to let us know that all policies are subject to whether the driver’s had enough coffee.

    You’re completely right about the re-tapping. I don’t mind because of the pass, but if I was paying each time, it would be an issue. Anyway, thanks for the blog; I really am fascinated with this whole new system and you do a great job collecting everything in one place.


  5. Joe

    Not only did the driver not open all the doors, but even underground, one of the side doors was non-functioning (with the almost-never-seen “Door Not In Service” message). People were squeezing through half the length of a packed train to get out at Hynes. The fire marshal would have loved to see that.

    Katie from Brighton, do we ride the same train? I think I heard the exact same announcement about the T official with the, um, orange vest. The whole system is a horrible joke with a tragic punch line, particularly as sub-freezing temperatures persist.

  6. If I was there I would not hesitate to use the Emergency door release if a door that is supposed to be opened at a station is not.

    Let the a’hole drivers get the message that the T needs to stop holding passengers hostage!

  7. Anonymous

    If you pull the emergency exit lever, *everyone* on the train would be held hostage until the T investigated what happened and got the door closed. Which might not be that easy, since the door was broken in the first place, which is why it didn’t open and they used the Door Not In Service sign.

    Better that they run the train with a closed-off door than taking the whole train out of service.

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