Mac Daniel in the Globe gives us more information on the frozen fare boxes
T officials declined to provide a specific number of unresponsive or failed fare boxes among the 780 buses that ran Wednesday morning. They also declined to estimate how much revenue was lost, though they said that the majority of bus riders use prepaid monthly passes and that most fare boxes were working by the height of the morning commute.
"Are we disappointed that we did not collect a fare from everyone this morning? Yes," said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
This morning Colin dropped a note to the mailbag at email@example.com
love the blog. You’re doing a great job covering tons of different topics.
I ride the 101 bus from Medford to Charlestown everyday. Ever since the new fare boxes have been installed, the boarding time has more than tripled. From a practicality standpoint, this thing makes zero sense. During my afternoon commute, it sometimes takes upwards of 7 minutes to simply get everyone on the bus.
This morning I boarded the bus for my commute. I am one of those commuters who still pays cash for my rides using a dollar bill and a couple quarters. The driver waved me on without paying and told me the fare box was frozen due to the cold weather. It was obvious the whole device was incapacitated and not powered on.
Nice work MBTA! You paid a fortune for fare boxes that not only delay the boarding of buses but also doesn’t work in cold weather.-Colin
Ah yes the fareboxes, we wrote about them last month
Well Colin it turns out this was not an isolated incident this morning. There will be more details coming out tomorrow but this in a nutshell is what happened.
The drivers this morning came in and warmed their buses before leaving the yard which is standard procedure on cold days. The fareboxes themselves have a heater built into them to keep the temperature above 20 degrees BUT the fareboxes do not power up when the bus is started. Drivers were booting up the fareboxes just before they departed and the built in heaters didn't have a chance to kick in and because of this several failed in operation.
Tomorrow (Thursday) when the drivers power up the bus they will also boot up the fareboxes at the same time and this should solve the problem.
My CharlieCard was not having a good morning today either, maybe he doesn't like the cold weather as well and I wasn't the only one having problems this morning at Harvard.
I appraoached the faregate, tapped my card and got the BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ "SEE AGENT" message. This seems to happen to me 30% of the time and I can't be the only one that is having this problem. Usually I just retap the card a couple of seconds later and the screen flashes that I have a monthly pass good until January 31. But today the faregate then flashed another message "PASS ALREADY USED", so I then seek out the CSA (Customer Service Agent)
The CSA looked exhausted ( but was very friendly) and she asked me to wait because another woman was ahead of me. That poor woman had inserted money onto her CharlieCard but the faregate said there was no value on the card. Luckily she had a receipt but all the agent could do was give the woman a refund form and then let her through the gate on her card. I asked her how her morning had been and she just replied "long".
Now she tackles my problem, goes to the FVM (fare vending machine) and sees that I have a monthly pass and $ 1.20 in stored value on the card. We walk back to the faregate and try the card again BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ "PASS ALREADY USED". She just sighed and mumbled under her breath and said "I'll let you in". She tapped her card and got the same error message that HER pass was already used as well. Finally she just said wait for the next person to go thru and follow them.
Ok so today there was a glitch and these things happen, but what concerns me is the number of "SEE AGENT" messages I get when I first tap the card. I also have a similar problem on buses where 50% of the time I need to tap the card twice before it is accepted. What I am curious about is what happens if the bus farebox doesn't accept a pass. Is there a way for the driver to read the chip on his display screen to see a pass has been issued?
Please share your CharlieCard experience both bad and good with other readers of the blog.
The more feedback we can generate will only help the rider experience as issues get aired publicly. We got an answer on what happened to Colin this morning.