Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Cotuit

Coins weigh heavy on riders

10 posts in this topic

Coins weigh heavy on riders

Green Line trip costs $3 in change

By Matt Viser, Globe Correspondent, 2/8/2004

Twelve quarters. It's enough to tug at a pant leg or overburden a purse. Stacked up, they're an inch high. A dozen weigh nearly one-fifth of a pound.

It's also the number of quarters the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority expects you to carry for a one-way ride on the Green Line.

Three dollar bills would be 23 times lighter than 12 quarters -- not to mention much easier to carry -- yet when boarding the subway, signs tell users "no pennies or dollar bills please."

Riders who quickly stuff the dollars into the slot are given nasty looks from subway drivers. Feeling guilty, they rush to their seats and promise to remember to bring quarters next time.

While riders could opt to pay with 30 dimes or 60 nickels, most go with quarters.

"I plan ahead and carry the exact change; it's ridiculous," said Kristy Phillips, who lives in Newton and commutes daily to Suffolk Law School. "I'm going to get a pass next month, because I can't be carrying around all this change all the time."

With quarters an essential for daily tasks such as laundry, parking, or pay phones, some say the T's gulping a dozen at a time is making the silver-coated discs worth their weight in gold. For a daily commuter, that's 60 quarters a week, 240 -- or six rolls -- a month.

"Look, I have to save for the laundry, too," said Hollie March, who admits to stuffing dollar bills into the slot from time to time. "So the quarter situation is pretty rough. But I prefer clean clothes over [not] making the T driver mad."

Only a few of the Green Line stops in Newton have change machines, and of those, several are broken. Local banks don't report an increase in requests for rolls of quarters, but they say demand already is high.

"There have always been people coming in for quarters, particularly for parking," said a teller at Encore Bank in Newton Center, who declined to provide her name. "There's absolutely a high demand."

The $3 inbound charge -- which was raised last month from $2.50 -- is so high because the outbound trip is free after the Fenway stop.

Riders wanting to avoid the hassle can pay for a $71 monthly pass and just slide their cards when they get on the T. If someone wants to pay with dollars, he is supposed to get a white envelope from the driver and stuff the bills into the side of the machine. Most such riders don't take the time and just put the dollars into the slot. Either way, the process causes delays and angers rule-abiding riders.

Lydia Rivera, spokeswoman for the MBTA, said there are no plans to change the system, and she disagreed that it inconveniences riders.

"Most people are more apt to agree that utilizing bills is inefficient and not the smoothest way to travel," she said. "Most people want to have the change, [and] most people prepare themselves to get on the train."

Interviews with half a dozen riders on a recent Wednesday suggested otherwise.

"It's stupid," said Kristine Young, who recently began collecting her change in a bucket. "It's a form of cash, either way. I don't see what the deal is."

Rivera emphasized, though, that the rule is "not written in stone," and the T would not turn people away if they needed to pay in dollars or pennies.

"We try to discourage it, but if someone did not have the appropriate change, we would take the dollar bills, and actually we would take pennies," she said. "But we do try to discourage it."

Rivera said that to her knowledge, no one has ever paid using 300 pennies.

From The Boston Globe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Twelve quarters? Jeez! If I had to carry around that much change, I'd go to the bank & trade some of my real dollars for those golden dollar coins, just so I wouldn't have to carry around 12 quarters all the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The T doesn't take gold dollars, only SBAs. The vending machines at Newton stations dispence SBAs, one of the only places in the country they are used.

Eventually the T is supposed to convert to a NYC Metrocard like system where they will have farecard dispensers at the stations. But eventually the T is supposed to do a lot of things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why doesn't it take gold dollars? They are the same size & weight of the SBAs. And why on earth does it dispense SBAs? Does anybody like those things? They look way too much like quarters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why doesn't it take gold dollars? They are the same size & weight of the SBAs. And why on earth does it dispense SBAs? Does anybody like those things? They look way too much like quarters.

NOt only do they dispense SBAs, but only SBAs. Once I found myself at Riverside (back when the fare was $2) and needed to get on. Only having a ten, I was dispensed 10 SBAs. What a pain to get rid of the other 8.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whenever, I get on the green line above ground I use dollar bills. No one has ever said anyhing. This has been going on for at least 20 years. Maybe the author of this article is oversensitive to the glares of other riders, and doesn't realize most T riders don't care if, or how she pays, as long as the line moves along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the drivers more than the riders. In years of living in Allston and riding the B Line I've seen drivers repeatedly refuse to accept bills. As the article says, they are supposed to have envelopes, but they almost never do. The bill slot gets jammed and the operator refuses to take anymore.

I had a bus driver in Salem refuse me once. I was waiting for the commuter rail in the dead of winter, when the express bus came, I didn't have enough change and the driver refused to let me on. I had to continue waiting for the commuter rail, the ass!

From what I understand, in the early 90s when the T put the new fare boxes on buses and trolleys that could read the magnetic stripe on T passes, they got the fare boxes cheap. San Francisco was also upgrading and ordered ones that wouldn't take dollars by mistake, so Boston picked them up. Providence buses take dollars, I've never had one rejected, I always use bills to ride the bus. Boston is just stubborn (New York is too).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

cotuit. It's time to fight back and get some satisfaction. Just get on next to someone and rush into the crowd on the train. Never pay at all. I see it all the time.

I once was on the greenline when this disheveled gent got on with a rake in one hand and a bottle in the other. The driver let him on. I figured he was out making a few bucks raking lawns. Anyway, it seems he forgot his belt and when he bent down to pick up his fallen rake (those trains do shake as you know) we all got to see what else he forgot. A very unexpected surprise. The laugh was worth the fare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


LOL!

I thought MARTA was the only transit system in the dark ages. We still have the token system on rail and exact change required on buses (although I think they accept dollar bills now).

MARTA did just purchase a new fare system that will replace the tokens with passes and probably switch to a pay by distance system like DC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.