Ah, the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for you out of towners). My local readers will know what I’m talking about. An often infuriating yet essential necessity to living in Boston and the surrounding neighborhoods. Recently, the MBTA rolled out a fare hike which has almost all of the people who utilize the different branches of public transportation up in arms. And I’m one of them. My arms are up.
The main issue most people have with the fare hike is that it is HUGE. For instance, a one way ticket on the commuter rail (my daily mode of transportation) was 5.25 prior to July 1. Now, it’s 9.50. WHAT?! That’s a really intense increase.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand businesses need to make money. And the MBTA is a business. A very poorly run business. But they could have handled this a lot better. They could have increased fares incrementally every year, instead of making one gigantic hike. Then people wouldn’t be so pissed off.
Another thing that really makes me angry is that they think that their customers are idiots. Let me refer to the photo below (please excuse the instagram filter – I’m obsessed):
On the top is a 12-ride commuter rail ticket, which is what I used to get before July 1. It cost me $63.00, which is a lot to me, but fairly cheap in comparison to driving and paying for parking every day. One the bottom is my new ticket, that I got yesterday. What’s wrong with this picture? Oh, right. The new ticket only has 10 rides. And it’s $5.50 more. What’s the big deal, you ask? The big deal is they think I’m stupid.
I tweeted the MBTA GM (@mbtaGM) to ask why they took the two rides off the ticket. I got this scripted response: “It is part of a package of changes that are meant to reduce the risk of fraud.” Oh, okay. Because if I was a fraudster who wanted to dodge fares, or make money off of selling fake tickets, taking off two rides is REALLY going to throw a wrench in my plan. Curses!
Here is what I think the real reason is that they’re just too wimpy to admit (did I mention they think we’re stupid?). If you calculate what a 12 ride ticket would be under the new rate hike, which of course I did, the total would come to $81. Fine, I expected a huge increase. Let me be pissed off for a while, which I was when I first heard about the increase, then I’ll just bite the bullet and buy it and forget about it. But noooo. To make it look better on them, they made the price of the ticket only go up $5.50 by giving only 10 rides, therefore making the increase less noticeable. Or so they think.
To add insult to injury, service has been awful lately. If you search the hashtag #mbta on Twitter you’ll find a slew of complaints about the Orange and Green lines in particular being messed up. My train was even delayed today. Which, after being at work for 9.5 hours, really gets on your nerves.
Well, that’s enough of my ranting for now. I’d encourage you to Tweet the MBTA incessantly, but that would be childish and not get anything done. But, I wouldn’t mind if you DID do it.
Or you can just follow me on Twitter: @marymallard