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Extra lane enjoyment on 128, and saving some trees

Posted by Nichole Davis  November 12, 2012 02:42 PM

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UPDATE 11/13, 11:45 AM: Thanks to the commenters who brought to my attention the error in this post - NORTH-side commuter rail users will be able to use the app starting yesterday, and later this month, South side and ferry users will have access to the app. That's what you get when you don't proofread as well as you should. My apologies - will be more on top of it next time. Happy riding! -N

Big news is on tap today both for drivers and riders of the rails. (And ferries.) Behind the cut, I've got all the details on the T's new mobile ticketing system... but don't get too excited, because not everyone will be eligible to use it just yet. Also, I've got a question from a curious (and thankfully loyal) reader from Hingham about some construction on 128.

FYI: The DOT hasn't yet released their plans for Boston-area construction for this week. As soon as I get them, I'll be sure to put them up on this post, so keep checking back!

When traveling between I-95 and Route 24 on '128 South' today I saw a variable message indicating that the use of the breakdown lane for travel during rush hour is to end on this Wed. 11/14. I assume this is because they are opening, at least for this section, the new fourth lane built as part of the '128 Add-a-Lane' project. Have you heard from anyone at MassDOT about this? Also, does this mean the whole stretch from Route 24 to beyond US 1 in both directions is opening up to 4 lanes this week, or is that happening later?
Bob, Hingham

You're correct, Bob! After months of construction delays on both sides of 128, it looks like travelers are finally going to get to reap some of the benefits.

According to Sara Lavoie and Michael Verseckes at the DOT, weekday rush-hour breakdown lane travel will be ending on 128 south this Wednesday - but there's no need to be upset, because you won't need it! Construction crews are going to start opening up the fourth travel lane that they've been working on for months between Westwood and Randolph - but only in spurts.

  • They'll open the fourth lane in the section between the ramp to 95 south and Route 24 on Wednesday at 5:00 AM.
  • They'll do the same between University Avenue and the ramp to 95 north on Thursday at 5:00 AM.
  • On Friday, the fourth lane will open up between just south of Route 109 and University Avenue at 5:00 AM.

Of course, these dates could change if a freak snowstorm comes and buries us all in two feet of snow, or if any other type of overly inclement weather hits, but so far, we're looking like a "go".

These openings on the southbound side will not affect the current situation on 128 northbound, where crews continue to work almost daily between Route 109 and Great Plain Avenue. There's no ETA yet for that opening, but when I hear of it, I'll be sure to let you know.
Tough to lose these tickets

Today is a big day on many Commuter Rail and Ferry routes of the MBTA!

If you use the commuter rail out of North Station, be sure to charge your cell phones before you head out. As of today, you can use those under the new mobile ticketing program, otherwise known as mTicket:

Beginning November 12, 2012, you can use mobile ticketing on North Side Commuter Rail Routes. In late November 2012, you will be able to use mobile ticketing on South Side Commuter Rail Routes and Commuter Boats.

As of today, you can purchase single-ride, a round trip, or a ten-ride ticket to load onto your phone. No more lugging around all that paper! They'll be rolling out monthly passes later on this month, but there's one big caveat to that - if you normally use your passes to transfer to the subway or a bus route, you're not going to be able to do that just yet. Mobile ticketing isn't available on those methods of transport just yet. The T says they'll be able to issue full monthly passes including those methods sometime next year.

So how does it all work? You purchase the pass, and you activate it right before you get onto the train. The program will show a screen with changing colors that you'll show to the conductor - that will let them know that you've paid, but they may need to scan your code also if something goes wrong. If your phone dies, be sure to have a cash backup. You won't be able to plead a dead battery when they come to scan your code.

The good thing about this is that you can also purchase more than one ticket per ride... so, say, you're travelling with your family and not everyone has a phone - all you have to do is activate several tickets at the same time and show the conductor each window that will pop up on the screen.

Say you want to buy a new phone, or someone swipes it? You do, indeed, get to keep the tickets you've already bought, but you have to either go to a ticket window or give the T a call (617-222-3200) during normal business hours to make that happen.

You can learn more and watch an informational video on how to use the app here.
Do you plan on using the new system? Will you wait until it is more compatible with bus and subway transfers? Let me know in the comments.
For an easy ride, call

There's plenty of numbers ingrained in our heads to call for various purposes. You electrocute yourself? Someone calls 911. Want to report your neighbor trashing your front yard? In some cases, you call 211. Calling Mr. Plow (otherwise known as Homer Simpson)? 555-3226.

Now, if you want transportation information, there's one easy place to call: 857-DOT-INFO. (Otherwise known as 857-368-4636) The number may seem kind of familiar to you - that's because the RMV's new call center number is 857-DOT-8000.

From Transportation Secretary and CEO Richard Davey:

“We are speaking with one voice throughout MassDOT... It’s a voice that is focused on the customer. Maybe you don’t know your highway district, nearest airport, bus route or what time the local RMV opens on Thursdays. Today, we are telling our customers all that information is just one call away.”

Why the change? MassDOT says they've been consolidating their phone systems between the various agencies to cut costs. The new system is called "OneVoice" and puts all the agency numbers under the 857 area code. According to a press release, the change will cut over $420,000 in costs per year.

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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