Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My First Day Paying $4 to Park

I'm back in the office today. It cracks me up when I travel out-of-town. I'm usually home earlier than I would be if I went into the office. My flight landed at Logan around 6:00 p.m. last night. Since traffic was light on the Pike, I was home by 7:15 p.m. That's usually when the P529 pulls into Grafton.

Today was my first day paying to park at the new $4 fee. Thus, I have a few commuter rail update/observations:
  1. Capacity in the parking lot has definitely increased . . . there were many more open spaces. I would say the lot was less than half full this morning (in time for the P508 departing at 7:09 a.m. train). I saw less cars parked and the line for drop offs was three times as long as usual. I think people are saying enough is enough with the MBTA and aren't going to pay the increased rate.
  2. It is impossible to fit four folded or rolled dollars into the slot. You have to fold two dollars together and then insert them twice. So, now it takes twice as long to pay.
  3. The dollar coins do NOT fit in the slots. So, if you want to use coins, you have to feed 16 quarters into the slots.

The whole thing is just ridiculous. You would think the MBTA would have come up with an easier way for commuters to pay their fee. It's so shortsighted on the MBTA's part and it shows they just don't understand their customers or the system they operate. Sure they need to raise money to pay for the back wages, but why not get rid of the WiFi that doesn't always work? Or how about making sure if you raise the parking fee, people can actually park? No, just inconvenience the customer instead.

Well, I think it's going to backfire. People are going to start driving again, especially since gas is near or below $2 a gallon now.

On a bright note, the P508 was 2 minutes early this morning, we rolled into South Station at 8:21 a.m.

This article from The Boston Herald, first published as an update late yesterday afternoon and then republished this morning, is interesting. With all the hi jinks over the past few weeks in Massachusetts' transportation, lawmakers are pushing for a 6-cent gas tax increase to help offset the assorted costs and deficits. Legislation has also been past to try to freeze toll increases until a comprehensive transportation plan has been unveiled. Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick) had this to say:

“This proposal would cost the average Massachusetts motorist approximately 85
or 90 cents per week, and save commuters on the Massachusetts Turnpike and those who commute from the North Shore nearly $2,000 per year,” Linsky stated in an e-mail to colleagues.

Right on. I'm glad someone is looking out for those of us who live West and North of the city.

A front-page story from today's The Boston Globe focuses on how the toll increases could negatively impact the East Boston community. I've got to think that the new toll increases would also really impact Revere and Winthrop too. Overall, this isn't a good solution. Businesses and residents are impacted in a multitude of ways.

Columnist Yvonne Abraham wrote this fantastic commentary about the toll increase, also in today's Globe. She also feels the gas tax should be increased and she makes a solid case for why Massachusetts isn't "Taxachusetts" anymore. We rank 35th in the US for taxes in proportion to income, far behind neighboring Connecticut and New York.


AJ said...

I couldn't believe the Rep from Wellesley this morning saying that "the Big Dig benefits everyone in the state, so everyone should be paying for it, " when discussing raising the gas tax. I can't see how that is possible, and would love to know what statistics she has to verify that statement. I'm sure there are a lot of people in Western Mass who have never actually seen the Z-BH Bridge (among other aspects of The Dig) in person. I'm DYING to know where they came up with that idea!

Like all the Mass Transit problems, it all falls back to accountability. Need more money for this thing? Fine. Just assure me that it's not going to continue this way. Can't? Why not? The construction firms eff'd this whole thing up. They were found responsible, but they're bankrupt. Cool. So we raise tolls to subsidize some of the cost. Now there are huge repairs, in addition to the debt carried by the now defunct company and we're raising tolls to fix that.

People just want to know that someone is going to be held accountable if this gets screwed up AGAIN.

Someone other than us.

Anonymous said...

Is an increase in the gas tax truly equitable? There are people who live outside of Boston (I'm talking Springfield outside) who never use the Mass Pike or drive into Boston and basically don't benefit from the Big Dig. Would it be fair to have them shoulder the cost of the Big Dig and Mass Pike, just like MetroWest residents do for the benefit of those living along 128 North and South? Wouldn't toll booths along I93 and 128 be more equitable? Or am I missing something here?

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible to increase the gas tax only for the gas sold at the rest areas along the Pike? Crank that tax up to 10-15 cents a gallon to help offset some of that 6-cents-per-gallon statewide tax increase they are proposing now. The only people filling up there are people who are driving on the Pike so it equates to a form of a use fee...

picky said...

Norfolk lots are 50% full, used to be nearly 100%. Transit Police patrols the place, they never been here before. 6.35 am train never came, following train collected all passengers, standing only after the first 4 stops, only 30 min standing on the crowded train to Boston.