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Front door frustrations, and downtown jam-ups

Posted by Nichole Davis  September 25, 2012 10:36 AM

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A little bit late this week, but no worries - here I am with a chock-full entry. Lots of construction to speak of in Downtown Boston... and that closure of the Ted Williams Tunnel is looking to be a go for later on this evening. I've also got a question from a very frustrated reader who is sick of dealing with all those heavy delays on the Green Line due to the "new" front-door-policy for fare collection.

Later this week we'll talk about the new General Manager of the MBTA, Beverly Scott, who will be shipping up to Boston from Atlanta. I'll also have your out-of-town construction and other transportation whatnot that came across the wires.

This whole front-door-only collection policy by the T just has to stop. I'm a regular B line rider and my commute home takes forever every night. I know I am not the only one that feels this way. I check the #mbtaaannoy tag on Twitter and see people complaining at a least a couple times a week about the policy.

I realize that 7:00 is the mandatory cutoff time for opening all doors, at least that's what they say on the announcements sometimes, but I often see trains back to back to back at stops that have already been delayed by traffic because of the heavy crowds trying to get on and off the trains. There are just too many people on the trains at 7:00 for them to start this up every night. Are the officials at the T hearing us and do they plan to make any changes to make things a little easier? I have friends on the C line that say it's not as bad but they get frustrated too.
Denise, Allston

As a former evening B line commuter, Denise, I understand completely what you're saying, and have experienced that same situation many times. It's ire-raising when your normal 35 minute-ish commute becomes easily over an hour simply because of the sheer volume of people trying to get on and off the trains to get home.

I asked MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, who is also a Green line commuter, what he thought about the policy and if there were any changes that could be put in place to ease the heavy congestion. He told me, well, "no" -- and here's why.

As is well known across the city and state, the T has been dealing with a significant debt for years. One of the methods that's being used to help alleviate that red ink is a heavy enforcement in fare collection. (If you ask me, it's a great idea, and I'm not just saying this for the sake of agreeing. It's important that everyone pay their share. I wholeheartedly endorse giving anyone who tries to piggyback on your fare what for.) Pesaturo told me that customers have actually pushed the agency to put these policies into place at public meetings across the city and state.

The message was loud and clear: If the T is going to raise fares, it must make every effort to collect them.

So, that's what they're doing. It's been seven months, and at first, even Pesaturo admits that it was a bit of a shaky start. Customers voiced lots of complaints, much like yours, Denise, about the heavy delays, and confusion as to why they could only enter and exit through the front door. He says he's heard less complaints as the days go by about the new edict, even on the trains he takes every morning and evening.

On a personal level, I've noticed that tourists returning to the city and college students seem to have the most problems with the policy, in that they simply don't understand that things have changed... so they stand at the back doors and get upset when they don't open, and then hold the train up as they rush to the front door to try to exit at the last moment. Regular commuters, while they get annoyed, are seemingly resigned to the fact that things are the way they are. I get that it's frustrating. Trust me, I've spent many an evening groaning as the train creeps through the already-completely-jammed-up BU stops into Allston.

Pesaturo says he understands that, especially with a whole new influx of students coming back into the city over the past month or so, there's bound to be a bit of an adjustment period. But he says the T is putting their foot down (and not the brakes on) this time.

My advice: extra signage might help to educate the public about the new policy ... and, I guess, giving yourself lots of extra time if the Green Line is the way you have to go.

Do you agree with the T's "new" policy? If not, what would you change? Do you think there's still cracks in the fare system? Have you given up riding the Green Line during rush hour because of this? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Odds and ends

Don't forget - the Ted Williams Tunnel westbound is set to close completely tonight into tomorrow for the rescheduled cleaning that has been thwarted several times now by storms. Follow posted detours and expect delays.

The ramp from 24 northbound to access 128 south / 93 north will close on Wednesday night from 11:30 PM until 5 AM on Thursday for road work.

You'll find slowdowns here... (Downtown Boston edition)

Mass Pike Westbound

The ramps from Congress St. and the Ted Williams Tunnel to 93 will close on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from Harborside Drive to the Ted Williams Tunnel on Tuesday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramps from 93 northbound and Frontage Road northbound to the Pike westbound will close on Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 PM to 5 AM.

The ramp from the South Boston Seaport District to the Pike Westbound will close on Thursday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The Copley on ramp to the Pike westbound will close on Friday from 9 PM to 5 AM.

Mass Pike Eastbound

++ COMPLETE CLOSURE ++ of the Pike eastbound at Exit 22 (Prudential Center / Copley Square) Wednesday through Friday from 11 PM to 5 AM. All eastbound traffic will be diverted at exit 22.

O'Neill Tunnel / Expressway Northbound

A triple left lane closure will be in place on 93 northbound from the O’Neill Tunnel to the Zakim Bridge on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The ramps from Essex Street and Atlantic Avenue to 93 northbound will close on Friday and Saturday from 10 PM to 5 AM.

O'Neill Tunnel / Expressway Southbound

The ramp from Essex Street to 93 southbound will close Tuesday through Thursday from 11 PM to 5 AM.

The Dewey Square Tunnel section will close Tuesday through Thursday from 11 PM to 5 AM. All traffic will be diverted at exit 24 A/B.

Storrow Drive Tunnels

The Storrow Drive Tunnel westbound, which carries traffic under Leverett Circle, will close Tuesday through Thursday from 10:30 PM to 5 AM.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Nichole Davis is a Boston-based traffic reporter and news anchor. She’s been seen and heard on television and radio airwaves across New England since 2003, providing commuters with all the More »

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