Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Consumer Activism on the Commuter Rail?

As much as I hate to see it dark early at night, there is one thing I'm looking forward to when we push the clocks back Sunday. . . brighter mornings. Does anyone, besides me, have a problem waking up in the morning when it is pitched black outside? The darkness caused me to oversleep, so I took the P512 train today instead of my regular P508.

Maybe it is just me, but every single time I ride on the P512 train, it is never on time. It is supposed to pull into South Station at 9:08 a.m., but I think it was around 9:20 a.m. or so when we finally got in.

I've noticed a lot of signage at the Grafton MBTA commuter rail lot this morning announcing the upcoming parking increase to $4.00 on November 15th. I cannot wait to try to shove four $1 bills into the slot. That should be a good time. Of course, I could just dump sixteen quarters into the slot too. Another combo would be two $1 bills and eight quarters. But if I'm feeling really crazy, maybe I'll just drop 40 dimes into the slot.

Yes, I know I've said this before, but this parking increase shows how out of touch the T is with their riders. Because if the T really thought this through, they would realize a vast majority of us park in lots without attendants. So we can't hand a $5 to an attendant and get a dollar back, we physically have to place our parking fees into this little box. Plus, sometimes you can't tell which box maps to your actual parking space. On some days, I've inadvertently placed my parking fee into the wrong box, for which I'm forced to pay twice.

The Daily News published an article this morning about the pending parking increase. Commuter Rich Tardiff, who lives in Salisbury, said it the best - the parking increase is "astronomical." The T's quotes show how out of touch this agency is.
"I defy you to find something else that has not gone up in the last six years," Pesaturo said. "The MBTA needs revenue to operate safe and reliable service."

You know, Joe, when other services raise their prices, at least their quality doesn't diminish. The T just takes and takes and takes and the services decrease. So this is not a good stock answer. This is a good way to make your riders even more upset.

Rich Tardiff noted the following:
Commuting to Boston on the Newburyport train since 2004, Rich Tardiff saw an increase in his fare in 2007 that increased his fares $250 a month or $3,000 a year.

Now, they want to raise parking, he said, so it's something he's working to suspend.

This article confirmed some comments I've heard from riders on other MBTA/MBCR commuter rail lines. Commuters, maybe inspired by the 2008 elections or the fact that they're just tired of shelling out cash for poor services, are becoming activists. There are petitions being circulated around a number of commuter rail lines, calling on the Governor to take some actions. The Daily News article noted that the North Shore lines have petitions about the parking fees. I've also heard that some other lines have petitions asking that significant changes be made to the MBTA's management structure. People are tired at the level of daily irresponsibility in regards to our mass transit systems and this is the tipping point.

Paul Tripp is right on in his assessment:
"They've been encouraging people to take the train more and more, and then they increase the (parking) fare?" he said. "The fare increase puts too much burden on people who are already trying to save money. Twenty dollars a day to take the train is a lot, especially for people who have to take the train into work every day."

In other news, WickedLocal Marshfield ran yet another "the T announced an increase in ridership" article yesterday. This article was tied to the first anniversary of the Greenbush line, which is on Friday. This article is mainly a feel-good piece about how the Greenbush line is a fantastic addition to the commuter rail system. Here's an idea - maybe the fees to park at Greenbush stations should be higher than at other commuter rail stations, since this is a line the T desperately wanted to add and really didn't need to add. Part of the T's budget woes can be attributed to Greenbush. Maybe Greenbush station parkers should pay more?

Finally, Boston Daily did a recap of the Hank Phillipi Ryan's investigative piece on the MBTA's lawsuits.


Anonymous said...

Does anybody else take the 500 (4:45 am out of Worcester). Either my watch was wrong or the train was a few minutes early this morning. It is scheduled for 5:35 in Framingham, but this morning it pulled in at about 5:30 and out at about 5:33. Normally I'm there 5-10 minutes early, but today I was a bit late but thankfully still caught it. Just curious if anybody else noticed this at other stops, or if I just need to buy a new watch.

Anonymous said...

40 dimes into a slot? Now THAT'S an idea! Seriously, we should all stage a protest by stuffing 40 dimes, 80 nickels, or 400 pennies into the slots! You can get rolls of coins from banks. I realize this will take more time in the morning, but isn't this worth the little effort and time? If you say or do nothing, you simply show your silent acceptance of this intolerable situation.

MetroWest said...

I'm totally on board (no pun intended) with the 40 dimes idea. I'll even wake up earlier and get to the train station in plenty of time in order to feed the slot. Take that T!

Anonymous said...

how about 4 dollar coins~worbono

Anonymous said...

Too bad MBTA Board member Darnell Williams (appointed to the Board of Directors by Deval Patrick) didn't get his way.
According to the Globe story from 10/11, Williams wanted to raise parking fees by $3. If that had happened, we'd easily be able to slip a $5 bill into the slot. Talk about convenient!!

Mass Voter said...

You know, I wouldn't be griping about this increase so much if the MBTA actually used the money on the lots. At least in lots outside of Metro-Boston, you're lucky if the lot is even plowed out after it snows. Not to mention - if something happens to your car, it is a quagmire in terms of who is responsible. Town police departments refer you back to the MBTA and then the MBTA doesn't do anything.

The Governor needs to get to the heart of the matter. The T is floundering with bad leadership and bloated union workers. Efficiencies need to happen. This is why wacko-s are trying to put in Question 1: our money is being mismanaged. Of course, if you own a home and Question 1 passes, you're screwed b/c the revenue will come from some place and our home taxes will increase.

I love the comment about the dollar coins. We should test to see if dollar coins even fit into the boxes. If this has to be painful for us, it should be painful for the T. I'm sick and tired of public organizations "lying" to the general public. The T should be upfront and honest "we have instituted a parking increase because we need to cover our debt as it relates to payouts back to union employees. We mismanaged our budgets."

Anonymous said...

It's not a matter of mismanagement. It's a matter of lack of revenue to do everything that people want.

Anonymous said...

The P512 is actually supposed to arrive at 9:02, but almost never does.

It was really overcrowded on 10/29 and running late well before they had to supposedly bounce someone in West Natick.

I don't understand why the FRAM - SS trains are double deckers but the ONLY worc train that gets in "around" 9am is always single cars.