Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Riled Up About the MBTA Parking Increase

My whole office is up in arms about the parking increase at MBTA stations. We understand that the T is in a budget crisis and that parking has not been increased in many years. But last Friday's announcement is just another example at how out of touch the people who operate the T are.

If Dan Grabauskas or if his management team actually used the T to commute to work, they would know that there really is no easy way to get four $1.00 bills into the slots at many commuter rail stations. Sure, if you park at a T station such as Riverside on the Green Line or Wellington on the Orange Line, you had your money to a parking attendant. But at Grafton and at all the other stations along the commuter rail line, commuters have to slide their bills into these little boxes that can barely accommodate two $1.00 bills, never mind four $1.00.

Hey Dan - did you even know that is how we pay for our parking at exterior stations?

Beyond the fact that we've just seen parking fees double, there is the ongoing concern that the lots will still be managed in a sub-par fashion. What do I mean about this? Well let's see. When it snows in the winter, the lots are sometimes not cleared in a timely fashion. Or, if we get a lot of snow, the snow isn't removed. The snow just gets piled up in parking spaces, making it harder to park. Then we periodically see a fair amount of vandalism towards the cars. Local police departments don't want to handle the calls, as the lots are owned by the MBTA.

When the new fares go into effect, my monthly commuting costs will increase to $330.00 or $16.50 a day. If fares are increased in 2009, might almost make sense to consider driving into Boston.

To top it off, the T's new "be nice" campaign generated front-page coverage on today's The Boston Globe. Honestly - are you trying to kill us? With everything that is going on today, The Globe's editors thought this was "front-page" worthy? Good grief!

Enough about parking for now!

My commute was fine this morning. I was back on the P508 and we arrived to South Station around 8:23 a.m.

Examiner.com ran an article yesterday by Daniel Farnkoff about who should be responsible for the Pike's and MBTA's debts. Daniel recommends raising the gas tax, which hasn't been increased since 1990, to help offset some of the fees associated with the Pike and the T. This way, the entire state is helping to fund transportation and not just those who live North and West of the city (for toll roads). This is an interesting argument. I'm not in any way advocating that taxes get increased, but 1990 trumps 2003. Dan Grabauskas' reason for the parking increase ("half a decade is certainly a long time between increases"). The last parking lot increase for the T lots occurred in 2003 - 13 years prior to the last gas tax increase.

Finally, The Boston Globe wrote a nice article about how restoration of South Station's clock.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You know, I can't help but think this increase would be avoided if only more parking was made available. For instance, at the West Natick stop the parking demand outstrips the spaces. So people park illegally, get rides, or walk. If these people could park, and pay the $2.00 they would. The "Natick Crossing" parking lot is usually empty. There is no reason the MBTA couldn't come to some agreement with them to allow overflow parking for a cut of the funds. All over the West Natick area there is space for overflow parking but the MBTA prefers allowing those who go to work at 6:00 AM to get all the spaces.

I agree that the price to drive into Boston is starting to be equal to the train. Each month, if I parked for $4.00, my commute would be $275 per month. Driving in is $320 (perhaps more depending on gas prices).

When I do park on snow days I am never plowed out. In fact, the plows pack us in under much more snow than there actually is. I no longer park when snow is predicted. I take a taxi to the station.

Finally, I totally agree about the excessive stops in the swanky cities such as Newton and Wellesley. Every town should only be allowed two stops at most. Further in Newton and Wellesley there are other options available, such as the green line. Wellesley Hills and West Newton should be eliminated as stops or only stopped at non-peak hour trains.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree that there is a justification for the parking fare increase. I do not use an MBTA lot at the present time. I do not think it is worth complaining about winter-related problems--itis new england after all

AJ said...

I love seeing people's opinions after some of your posts. While everyone is entitled, I think it's funny that someone who doesn't use the lots felt the need to chime in. It's great that "Anonymous II" thinks the parking increase isn't justified. However, even though he's in agreement, he doesn't use the lots, so I wouldn't count it. It doesn't effect him at all.

"It is New England after all"? Yes, and we expect snow and rain and just about anything the weather can throw at us. It also means we expect the people who's job it is to clean up these conditions to do the so. I can accept that I'm going to get plowed in. Hey, as long as they plowed! It is New England and I keep a shovel in my trunk all winter. However, one would assume your parking money goes towards lot maintenance, right? I could see an inflation increase, but I would love to see some research numbers to back that up.

As with any increase, people expect an increase in service, or at least justification of the cost. I didn't bitch so much at our sloppy lots and 1-Shovel-Width paths over the winter because parking was only $2. Now it's $4, and I expect that the services they were lax on should be performed. Not necessarily new services, or paving or anything. Just honestly provide the services you claim to already provide.

Now, if parking fares don't go to the parking lots, we have a different issue. Dan said it would help recoup some 20 million per year in MBTA debt. So does my $2 go to the lot upkeep, or to the MBTA? Is it like insurance where we pay, and it's their profit unless something actually needs repair? Or does it just go straight to them and help pay for our rides? Is this a double dip when connected to a riding fare increase? A way of keeping ticket prices "lower" and recouping on the back end?

Am I still making sense, or just getting too conspiracy theory?

Keith said...

Regarding the West Natick station...with more commuters than ever taking the train, it is now impossible to get a parking spot in that lot past 6:45 am. If the train you need to take is a later train, what are you supposed to do, just sit in your car and snooze or drink coffee? There is a complete lack of parking spaces in Natick and West Natick.

The downtown Natick lot, run by the town, requires an annual parking pass, so you can't even park there on a daily basis. There is NO daily parking to be had anywhere in downtown Natick. But people who work in downtown Natick get little green tags for free and they have no problem with parking. As commuters, we're just doing what they do ... find a space for your car so we can get to work too.

I've driven to the Wellesley Farms station where there seem to be plenty of spaces, and pretty soon the fee for that lot won't seem out of line once the T lots hit $4.

They want us to save energy and the environment by taking public transportation, yet they make it very difficult for us to do so.

Anonymous said...

Must be some inflation, if we're talking about U.S. inflation:

http://www.economist.com/displayImage.cfm?imageURL=http://media.economist.com/images/20080906/TAB1.gif

MassMadness said...

I'm just livid that Dan Grabauskas obviously has no regard for the people who use the transit system he supposedly operates. He treats his customers like we are dirt. At least other "CEOs" appear to sometimes care about their product and their company. I love how McDonald's executives speak enthusiastically about their product. I can respect that.

Dan is the worse case of a political hack. If he is such a good policy wonk, then why hasn't he tried to insert change into the T? He just shuffles his shells to make it appear like he's doing something. Then he blames the unions, blames the pols, and has the audacity to blame the customers when stuff doesn't work.

Between the launch of a "be nice" campaign during an economic crisis and a smart alec "we haven't raised parking fees in half-a-decade" comment, Dan should be ousted from his position. The whole T needs to be shaken up.

Between the 1,000 positions the state is going to eliminate and all the private sector jobs that are disappearing, I bet Gov. Patrick and the MBTA board can find someone who is competent to operate the T and willing to do it for less than the $260,000 Dan's salary is at.

The man and his executive management team obviously never use the T or the commuter rail. Because if they did, then they would know what it is like to shove $2.00 into a tiny slot that is hard enough to read in the wee morning hours before you board your train.

And if Dan and his crack exec team had any respect for their customers, they would know that manners are not the issue. The issue that makes T riders cranky is the fact that the services are less than stellar. The more you raise your prices, the more we are going to complain.

I hope Dan and the T's team reads this blog, because you provide a good forum for identifying what is and isn't working in our mass transit system. People want to use the T. But the T isn't listening to them.

The Worcester line is a great example of the T not listening. I'm sure this is the point where Dan says "well we don't operate the commuter rail (but we're glad to take your $$ for parking)." LISTEN UP. Worcester-Framingham riders want more than just Express and Regular trips. Consider mixing it up - see where people are getting on and off the train. See where people can park - if there is a place to park. And do some work and try to make this better.

I'm angry and I'm only going to get madder. Show some freakin' leadership OR resign from your plush position. I would love to have an interesting job that pays above market value and provides perks (a car - why the F do you need a car) and good benefits. I'm educated with an advanced degree - there are many more like me out there. We'll do Dan's job with a smile and give our customers and our state's citizens the respect they deserve.

kungfubarbie said...

I have seen a parking increase in the last few months in Worcester. The $1 lot recently became $2.

If they are really raising all parking fees $2 does that mean they expect me to pay 5$ to park in the second Worcester lot? $3 is bad enough.

If you can get free parking in Boston - you are lucky. I envy you!

I used to drive everyday and when gas was "cheaper" it still cost me 600a month for gas, tolls and parking.

Doug said...

It's bad enough that parking rates are doubling November 15th. But now I have the added hassle of finding 4 singles or 16 quarters every day?

If the MBTA is going to burden us with a 100% increase in parking, at least make it *easy*.

How about a monthly parking pass I could purchase and hang in my window?

Or create a version of the monthly rail pass where a sticker, affixed to the bag of the pass, could be peeled off and placed on the car windshield, showing that parking has been paid already?

CommuterGirl said...

http://fightthehike.blogspot.com/

Fight the parking hikes and look into taking the BUS. The Peter Pan line from Bourne, MA is just as convenient for Cape/Plymouth S commuters and $960 a yr cheaper ( in parking fees)than the train! Not to mention $80/yr cheaper in tickets. 10ride pass is $7.50 each way and NO PARKING FEES!

Anonymous said...

I think the whole thing is BS people who are FORCED to park in lots far outside the city are the ones with the greatest burden! I don't care if they want to keep ticket prices low, if they raise the fairs the cost is spread over a much larger group of people who are in essence using the same service. Putting my vehicle on a piece of pavement should not cost more than $2 a day. Grabouskas tells us fairs have not gone up on 5 years. Great! thats how it should be! The average american household income has barely budged since the mid 1980's We have a cardboard economy propped up by credit debt and EVERYONE FINALLY realized it this year and Dan thinks...nows a good time to raise parking costs. What is even better is the fact that our parking fees will go to pay back wages owed to union employees that were awarded through arbitration...which is rediculous. Unions have there place and are created and function for valid reasons. I don't know the whole story about this but it makes no sense for unions to keep asking and demanding and threatening to disrupt service to obtain higher pay, etc. We have come a long way from the industrial revolution...some jobs have risks and drawbacks. People need to live with it. When they put the MBTA under and have NO jobs they will see it differently...Maybe that is why my train is late 7 or more minutes every day of the week...they didnt get their payday yet. The big wigs at MBTA should also loose the company vehicles and the gas cards...the average working stiff is not given a company vehicle ever, especially not when the company is billions in debt!

Anonymous said...

Just an idea...
The US mint is now offering $1.00 Coins shipped to your doorstep at face value with no cost for shipping to stimulate the usage of the coins.
People can even get points on their credit card purchase of these coins.

Check it out at:
http://catalog.usmint.gov/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&identifier=8100

marcomarco said...

Hey people. Even at $2/gallon for gas, it's still cheaper to ride the train. Productive time if you choose, nap, reading, laptop, etc. Less swearing at other drivers, less stress. No traffic jams.

It's amazing how many people will whine about something like this, yet order one-per-day triple nonfat caramel machiatto with extra foam for $5. Hypocracy at its finest.

Options:
1. Go to your local bank and order a strap of $2 bills. Yes, there is such a thing, and they're still printed.
2. Start up a Parking Carpool
3. Write a physical check per day in protest. Good luck with that.
4. Ride a bike
5. Be happy you're still employed.

If the train happens to be late, it still beats a locked-up traffic jam. Lighten up already.