Tuesday, January 02, 2007

things the T could improve

A few suggestions to the T in helping riders adjust to the new system. We are not trying to criticise the T on everything they do but simply offer suggestions and point out how other transit systems have coped with situations.

The T really needs to publish a CharlieCard brochure in Spanish or if they have to really get it out into the stations. While the vending machines themselves have Spanish instructions I get the sense that many riders who don't speak or read English have any idea about the savings the CharlieCard offers.

The T needs to take a trip to Chicago to see first hand how the CTA uses smartcards on the bus system. What the CTA has done is so simple yet it cuts boarding time IN HALF on their major bus routes. Most of the newer CTA buses have installed smartcard readers to the left of the door as you board. Passengers with the ChicagoCard simply touch the card reader and board the bus and not be forced to wait for passengers that must use the farebox.



The other thing that Chicago has done concerning smartcards is that every farebox and faregate has a decal of the ChicagoCard on the card reader itself that indicates at a glance where to touch your card. It would be very simple for the T to put a picture of Charlie on the black target.

The T also needs to give CharlieCards to the bus drivers so they can pass them out to riders who don't go to a subway station.

I observed some confusion at the Porter Square commute rail this morning with conductors over the LinkPass and the Zone 1-A passes. While both passes cost $59 there is a MAJOR difference.
The Zone 1-A pass which can be used at Porter, West Medford, Malden, Chelsea, Ruggles, Forest Hills, Uphams Corner and Morton Street for commuter rail and is also good on the Inner Harbor ferries plus unlimited bus (with the exception of the outer bus express service) and subway. The LinkPass is only good for unlimited bus and subway. For now at least MBCR conductors have been told NOT to accept the LinkPass. Since they are exactly the same price they should be
interchangeable.

Speaking of MBCR they need to update their website as many of their links are looking for the old T website and when you click you get the "Error 404 We apologize but the page you are looking for no longer exists."

12 comments:

Brian said...

I'm dismayed to hear that the "Link Pass" cannot be used on Zone 1-A trains. That's another reduction in service (or are they calling those "fare abnormalities"?) with the fare increase. It also doesn't make the least bit of sense. The only purpose it serves is to make Zone 1-A obsolete. They might as well board up the stations if people need to spend $120 every month to use them and transfer to a subway. Frankly, I'm stunned at this reduction in service. A subway pass was always an acceptable fare for Zone 1-A and came in handy during the T's more extreme service delays.

Dani B. said...

The zone 1A conundrum will only be short lived though. When the commuter rail starts accepting charliecards sometime this summer the zone 1A and link pass will be merged together. The reason for a seperate pass right now is because you can get a link pass on a charliecard so they don't want someone buying a link pass thinking it's good on commuter rail because if it's on charliecard the conductor has no way to tell what it is until they get the handheld scanners.

Fenway said...

Dani B. said...
The zone 1A conundrum will only be short lived though. When the commuter rail starts accepting charliecards sometime this summer the zone 1A and link pass will be merged together. The reason for a seperate pass right now is because you can get a link pass on a charliecard so they don't want someone buying a link pass thinking it's good on commuter rail because if it's on charliecard the conductor has no way to tell what it is until they get the handheld scanners.


Still there is no excuse for riders that have a CharlieTicket Link pass not to be able to use them on the Commuter Rail and Ferry.

Dani B. said...

I definitely agree but in the T's way of thinking they did this to reduce confusion. Why should a link pass on a CT be good in some places where a link pass on a CC isn't. By default they should let you use your link on a CT on the commuter rail for zone 1A but just not publicize that you can. So far I haven't heard of anyone being charged yet who has made this error.

Ron Newman said...

The zone 1A pass is good on local buses, but not on any express bus (whether 'outer' or 'inner').

Brian said...

If they wanted simplicity, then they should have created a simple system or held off on the roll-out until it could serve the entire system. Its absurd to take away service from people in order to simplify a system they made complicated in the first place.

Carla Lewis said...

The T website just muddles the situation more. If you look at the commuter rail zone list breakdown they have Porter, West Medford, Malden and others listed as Zone 1B but they only sell a Zone 1A pass.

Then to increase confusion they say the following
Zone 1-8 Passes provide unlimited travel within selected zones PLUS all Subway, Local Bus, Express Bus and Inner Harbor Ferry service.
Zone passes 5-8 also good for Commuter Boats from Quincy, Hingham, and Hull.


Most people will read that and assume that Zone 1A will have the same benefits at Zone 1 (Express Bus)

I have an awful feeling that riders who used to have the old Combo and Combo Plus pass think the Link pass is the same. While the Link replaces the Combo on places like Newton on the D line and Braintree on the Red Line it is not valid on the Express Bus.

Badtransit.com is reporting a major fiasco in Watertown this morning and I will bet anything those people bought Link passes that don't work on the Express Bus.

Ron Newman said...

Zone 1B was abolished and combined with Zone 1A. They really should have renamed it Zone 0 at the same time, to avoid this kind of confusion.

There didn't use to be a Zone 1A or 1B at all. A few years ago, the T decided they wanted to promote short-distance commuter rail travel, but they didn't want to renumber all their existing zones. Instead, they created new zones 1A and 1B, and assigned some of the close-in Zone 1 stations to these new zones.

Paul said...

In New York City the Long Island Rail Road calls the zone within the city "City Terminal Zone"

Nathan Williams said...

The T also needs to give CharlieCards to the bus drivers so they can pass them out to riders who don't go to a subway station.

I don't know how widespread it is, but some bus drivers are doing exactly this; I've heard reports of it today and last week.

Jim - Dorchester said...

Here's another issue the MBTA needs to resolve:

I used to buy my Subway pass at South Station, at the ticket windows manned by MBCR employees.

When I went to get the new Combo Pass ($59) stored onto the Charlie Card they had given me earlier, I was told that I had to use the vending machines, as the MBCR employees were not given the equipment that allows them to store value on a Charlie Card. The problem with that is that I pay for my pass with Commuter Checks - which are not accepted at the vending machines. Many other commuters use this tax-advantaged system (which is how it's sold) to buy their monthly passes and we all wound up having to go to the ticket windows on the concourse between Downtown Crossing and Park Street stations. We were joined there by similar folks who had been turned away at North Station and Government Center.

Needless to say, that's a lot of people and I wound up having to wait in line over an hour to buy my pass. The wait was compounded because, out of six windows, only two were staffed and one of them only intermittently. I chalk that up to the MBTA's stellar planning skills in scheduling a rollout during a week when many of their employees are probably taking holiday vacations.

Anonymous said...

Re: "In New York City the Long Island Rail Road calls the zone within the city 'City Terminal Zone'"

Not really. Zone 1 is the fare zone for city stations west of Jamaica. Zone 3 is the fare zone for Jamaica and stations within the city that are east Jamaica. (There hasn't been a Zone 2 in several decades.) "City Terminal Zone" is what they call the *schedule* for Jamaica to Penn Station, since the other schedules are organized by branch but these stations are west of where all the branches merge.

Re jim: Can the MBCR windows at South Station (and other pass windows) sell a LinkPass on a CharlieTicket? If so, that's an interim solution to the problem of how to buy a pass using Commuter Checks without going to Downtown Crossing.