I try really hard not to complain about the T. Complaining about public transportation is bad strategy. Other people hear all the complaints, and they don't think the system works, so they don't use it, so there is less support for it, and we end up with less of it instead of with some of the problems complained about actually being fixed.
But I've been as angry as I've ever been with the T in the last week.
We know that it shuts down early, and that this is a serious failing. Basically, don't expect to get a train anywhere after 12:30am, and don't expect to get a bus anywhere after its related last train arrives either. This policy is profoundly stupid, and is a strong inducement to get out of Boston.
But listen. If you want to stop the trains early so that drunk people can drive instead, and so that local bars and restaurants lose prime-time money, fine. Do that. But put a sign up that says you're doing it, and stop collecting fares when there are no more trains.
Last week I left Wally's with friend RS and we went to the Mass Ave stop on the Orange line. It was very close to the last train time, so we weren't sure if we were too late or not. But since the turnstiles still accepted her token and my pass, and since the T employee who was walking around on the platform said nothing, we figured we had made it in time. But after waiting for 10 minutes or so, it was after 1 and clear that we had in fact missed the last train.
It's pretty easy to solve this problem. Let me explain how, without swearing. 1. When the last train goes by, lock the turnstiles. 2. Put up a sign that says what time the last train goes by at that station. Have you ever heard of a place providing a service that closes and doesn't tell you that it's closed, and still takes your money? Of course not. Maybe in Mother Russia, or in some Kafka book I haven't read yet.
Just as I was rehashing this complaint in my head a few minutes ago, I boarded a bus to come home from work and swiped my pass. No beep from the machine. I flashed it to the driver and started to walk by, because sometimes the machines just don't beep. The driver said, "That one needs another dollar." I looked at him and said "No it doesn't," and swiped it again. Still no beep. I showed him the pass. He said, "That's only a Zone 1, that doesn't work on this bus. You need another dollar."
Look, my friend. I've ridden this bus — the 500 Riverside bus — a dozen times in the last year, easily. Regardless of whether it is technically true that I should be paying another $1, I have never heard this before.
From the looks of the fare charts, the driver was correct. And the previous eleven drivers, well, what can I say. Perhaps this accounts for some of the revenue shortfall we always hear about.
Whatever. I got off the bus and boarded the one behind it, the 556. It goes to the same place, and takes my pass.