We meet again! I hope your week is going well so far. Traffic's been somewhat lighter, I've noticed ... I believe we've hit the stretch of the summertime where those who are taking longer vacations are actually, well, taking them. So, while it might not seem as if traffic's become much better over the past week or so, take advantage of it while you can!
Today I've got three tidbits from the news ... including a continuation of a story that we've talked about a couple times here on the blog. Enjoy!
Slow it down, son
Route 24 has been a dangerous stretch of road to drive recently. Speaking from personal experience as a traffic reporter, I can tell you that at least once a day I hear of some incident somewhere between 128 and the Rhode Island state line... and some of them have been very serious as of late.
State police say they're responding to this -- and more calls for simply bad driving, including speeding and erratic lane-switching -- by focusing more of their energies on the area. We'll hear more details about this later this week, but officials say they're starting to bump up patrols on Route 24, as well as 195 along the South Coast. Spokesman David Procopio says troops are simply spending more time "in an area where statistical data shows it is needed." Keep an eye out... actually, on second thought, just keep those eyes on the road instead. Full story here.
Yes! We have them! Oh, actually wait ... maybe not ...
The lack-of-CharlieCards saga continues, according to the Globe's Eric Moskowitz.
You'll remember how we tackled this issue a few weeks back ... not just once, but twice! Many readers have written in with stories on how, when they go to replace their expired CharlieCard (or simply to get one, as they didn't have one before), they were denied by agents, who informed them they had simply run out.
I called MBTA customer service, who assured me the shortage would be temporary, but they didn't even have information as to when cards would be re-delivered to stations. Spokesman Joshua Robin had told me that the lack of cards was a very temporary thing, and that the T had an ample supply.
However, it seems as if that statement may be a little stretched, as Eric reports his own CharlieCard expired at Porter Square - and, lo and behold, an agent didn't have any to replace it with. He says he's heard of this happening to people several times over the past few weeks.
Have you been affected at all recently by a shortage of CharlieCards? Has yours expired and have you not been able to find a replacement? Let me know in the comments.
Don't forget - if you are worried about an expiring CharlieCard, you can always check on any kiosk to see exactly when it is set to expire. Just tap the card and click "Card Info". The date should be on the top of the screen. Cards with light brown numbers will expire sooner than cards with black numbers, as the brown-numbered cards were part of the first batch issued during the debut of the CharlieCard.
Meantime, I'll be talking to the MBTA about this to see what they have to say about it. If you want to hear about it in full, Eric lays out his experience here.
If you're in the game of trying to skip over those entry and exit gates to catch a just-about-to-depart train without paying ... I'd suggest you consider another option. You know, namely, paying your fare. (Sorry to be a Debbie Downer.)
I hate to break it to you, but the MBTA police are likely on to you, and you may not even know it. Steve Annear over at BostInno reports Transit Police have been pulling some fast and furious ticketing blitzes over the past few days... and many of those officers have been in plain clothes, so most riders couldn't even see it coming.
The MBTA's calling it "Operation Fare Game", and it started up Monday night at Downtown Crossing. Steve reports they also worked the Park Street station on Tuesday, and there were reports of officials scouring Green Line trolleys on Wednesday morning during the commute. After checking the figures, I believe that if they keep pulling in cash the way they are, this may be one of the answers to their fiscal woes. Steve says:
Now, if you do the math, in just two days the T police stopped 87 people from getting through the fare gates for free. That means they handed out $4,350 worth of citations, assuming each person caught was a first-time offender... If on average they stopped even 30 people per blitz—around 150 people per week—they would be bringing in $7,500 over the span of five days, or, $390,000 per year.
I highly doubt, as people catch on, that this tactic will be as much of a money-maker as it is now for the MBTA ... but for the time being, know there's a good possibility you're being more heavily watched than usual. Do you think this is a good approach to cutting back on fare-jumpers? What else should transit police be doing to cut back on this problem? Check out his full report here.
Back on Friday with more ... and don't forget to keep sending me questions. The mailbag grows ever lighter and I'm excited to see how I can help you out. :)
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