Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fares Not Collected

Grafton Train Rider shared the following correspondence on an inquiry submitted to the Commuter Rail Customer Service site.
Dear Train Rider,
Feel free to post.
Grafton Train Rider
Here was Grafton Train Rider's original submission, sent in because fares were not collected and the P533 train was late on 8/14/2008.
It's bad enough to have your trains arrive over 30 minutes late with no signage indicating so at the station! The female conductor did not even bother to collect fares. I asked another passenger who boarded at South Station, and she said that the conductor did not collect for passengers boarding there either. To make matters worse, there was no announcement, apology and/or explanation about the train arriving over 30 mintues late. Sometimes I wonder why I pay for a monthly pass when the fares are not collected consistently.
This is the response that Grafton Train Rider received from the MBCR:
Dear Grafton Train Rider,
I have read your email regarding your commute on the 14th of August.

I have forwarded this information to the trainmaster responsible for conductors asking that these issues be addressed with the crew of this train. There was a mechanical failure on an earlier train that resulted in the 36 minute delay out of South Station. There is no excuse for not telling our passengers something, even if the crew is not aware of the exact circumstance they are obliged to make announcements throughout any delay. As for not collecting fares, the proper collection of revenue is a major responsibility and I have been assured that this will be addressed as well.

I am sorry that it is necessary for you to have to write to us again but thank you for bringing it to my attention.
Linda Dillon
MBCR Customer Service Manager
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I would hate to work in customer service and I would really hate to have Linda Dillon's job.

Seriously, though, when will one of the media outlets or one of our elected officials start to put pressure on the MBTA/MBCR to do the following:
  1. Collect Fares. The T can't keep on bellyaching that they are running out of budget if they do not attempt to at least collect the revenue at hand. Yes, I get it, I know that the fares do not support the T. But when you have NO money, SOME money has got to help.
  2. Communicate. We live in an electronic age. We are not relying on telegraphs to transmit information. How hard is it to notify riders that trains will be delayed?
Point #2 becomes moot if they just want us to let us ride the trains for free. If the trains were a free service, heck yeah, we wouldn't really have any right to complain if the service sucked.

But the key point is - we're paying for service. At least some of us are. And I suppose fewer people are paying . . . at least in the form of a monthly pass. Because, what's the point? Fares aren't collected. So why blow $250 a month if you're a Zone 8 commuter, when you can gamble and just buy a 12-ride pass for $93.00?

Better yet - how's this for a gamble - buy a Zone 1A multi-fare pass for $20.40 for 12 rides for your outbound commutes. If they're not collecting fares, will you actually get caught for using the cheapest multi-ride ticket outbound all the way to Westborough, Grafton or Worcester?

I would love to see a state rep, state senator or a "mainstream" media outlet run an investigation on (1) how many monthly passes are purchased - by zone, (2) correlate that to the actual number of commuter rail riders and (3) the actual amount of fares collected. If I had to make an unscientific guess, I would bet that there are way more riders than the fares are showing.

MBTA and MBCR - step up to the plate and do your part!

Thanks to Grafton Train Rider for sharing!


Kidney Stones said...

Great post!

Regarding your point on the 1A pass-I've seen people do that, only with a Zone 4 pass. A 1A pass would draw suspicion, as the express trains don't stop in Zones 1-3.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I saw the conductors coming around to collect fares, and the guy across the aisle from me was fumbling around with his wallet to get his ticket out. As he pulled out his "Zone 4 August" monthly pass, his "Zone 8 August" pass accidently fell out as well. He quickly snatched it up, but not before I saw. I gave him a grin, and I think he knew that I had caught on to his game. Needless to say, he rode all the way to Worcester on a Zone 4.

I bet lots of people use Zone 8's in the AM and Zone 4's in the PM. They could never remember WHERE you're supposed to get off.

Guilty as Charged said...

Wow. I'm feeling guilty.

I used to ride the commuter rail to my old job. In fact, it was the Worcester line. Since I didn't take the train on a daily basis, I didn't buy a monthly pass. Often, I would hope they wouldn't collect my ticket . . . and they usually didn't.

I think I rode for free more than I paid.

I confess. I feel guilty about this.

Anonymous said...

My mother was visiting a few weeks ago and took the train to and from the city on the Worcester line. The lady in front of her didn't have the correct pass.

The conductor says to the woman: "You have to get off at the next stop."

She never got off the train. In fact, the conductor walked by the woman on several occasions and never said a thing.

animatedblader said...

I agree with you that service sucks on the T. The worst is when they cancel the train altogether and expect you to spend 3 hours on a bus. Fares are never collected on a train that's late more than 30 minutes. It's part of the "on-time service guarantee" If you buy a pass, you can get money back every time they are late. If you ride the T on a regular basis, subscribe to email alerts. You will get an email or text message when the train is late. Sometimes, the message even comes before the train was scheduled to leave, lol. There's no point in waiting at the station If there's no train coming. Make sure you get the unlimited text plan if you do that though, there are lots of late trains every month. It's much more tolerable to commute via train if you know which trains are late.