Hello again! Back at it this evening ... there's lots of news this week about the T to discuss. I've also been able to get an answer to another of your questions (this one regarding the commuter rail). And, on top of that (!) I've got a list of areas to avoid if you want to park during the upcoming holiday celebrations around town.
Let's get to it. First, the mailbag...
"I commute to Boston on the Fitchburg line - many of the Commuter Rail parking lots still employ the antiquated "money stuffer" slot boxes - when will the T employ more modern methods for paying for parking/tickets etc. i.e. credit card swipe machines, mobile app payment readers ? In addition to the convenience factor, such payment methods avoid the need to hand cash & coin which is ripe for diversion."
As someone who normally doesn't carry around a lot of cash, I can wholeheartedly sympathize with this. I have seen these boxes in the past, and quizzically stared at them myself once, wondering how on earth the system's supposed to work...
Can't someone just reach in there and... grab the money? Do people actually open these things on a regular basis? What if I've only got four bucks in cash and coins, I'm running late, and the parking charge is five? *scratches head*
Thankfully, Anonymous, the old system's heading out the door. MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo signaled me to check out Parkmobile, a service that's in place in almost every park and ride lot on the commuter rail. The app is available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile.
Apparently you can pay for your parking while you're walking to the bus, train, or ferry you're trying to catch - you won't have to wait by your car while you do it - just make sure it's within 20 minutes of entering the lot. Parking agents will be notified once you pay your daily rate. According to the T, there's no extra fee to sign up to use the basic service, and if you need a receipt (say your company refunds your parking), you can print them out online.
- Get ready to update those T maps of yours... the MBTA's got a new idea to make some cash. The agency says they're considering auctioning off station names to be sponsored by corporations.
They'd read as, for example, "Buffalo Wild Wings Park Street Station" (...mmm, wings... shouldn't write this while hungry...) or "FleetCenter North Station" (if this were 2001). Only 11 stations would be put on the block to start, and the stations would be auctioned off in two waves. The first wave would include Downtown Crossing, South Station and the Park Street. The second wave would include Copley Square, Harvard and Kendall. The T says it hopes to make this a systemwide change over the next few years, making it the only transit system nationwide besides Chicago's to do so.
Some have already expressed interest, including Emerson College (for Boylston, which is the closest to its' recently consolidated campus in the Theater District) and JetBlue (for the Airport, for obvious reasons). Officials say they could upgrade stations, install WiFi on commuter rail trains, and improve handicapped access with the infusion of funds.
The T stresses that the names of the stations will not change - corporations will only tack their names onto them, like you'd see at a sports stadium or performing art center. Full story here.
- Heading to Hampton Beach to take a break this upcoming weekend, or perhaps for the holiday? Now you'll have no trouble knowing where you can't park.
A significant amount of unfortunate tows have taken place in the past few weeks as the summer season's amped up. The town has decided, in the wake of complaints regarding said tows, to make it perfectly clear where your car is not allowed. New signs will direct you away from spots reserved specifically for local businesses.
Was your car towed in the past few weeks? Too bad - town officials say you won't be getting any refunds, even if you were confused about where to park. Full story here.
- The MBTA is now one step closer to receiving a bailout from the state - but the roads will see a little love as well.
Both the state House and Senate have voted to push an almost $50 million MBTA bailout through in order to close an agency budget gap, as well as limit those cuts in service coming July 1. Cash for that is coming from a fund comprised mostly of inspection fees.
They've also approved a second bill that will allot $200 million to get some work done on the state's roads and bridges that are in need of repair. No word yet on which projects that funding will be used for. Full story here.
You can't get there from here - at least not now...
Boston's busy this time of year with tourists and the usual resident crowds. It's about to be downright bustling with the Fourth coming along soon. (Hooray for fireworks!) However, the City of Boston also is putting traffic and parking restrictions into effect during other events, such as those for the War of 1812 Bicentennial and the Tall Ships Festival.
The Globe's Matt Rocheleau has put together an exceedingly detailed and thoroughly helpful list of all the traffic restrictions that will be in effect for these events. These mostly affect the areas around South Boston, the Esplanade and the Seaport. Get the list here.
Also, I'll be sure to touch on the MBTA highlights on Friday, but for now, you can check out the full list of MBTA service changes here.
Phew! That's a lot to take in for your mid-week, but there's plenty more to come on Friday. As I mentioned, we'll go over the MBTA changes for E line customers, I'll have reminders about MBTA service changes over the weekend for construction and holiday events, and of course I'll have your list of next week's construction hot spots to avoid.
For now, though, tell me in the comments: what are your thoughts on the MBTA name change idea?
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