Helsinki buses are not the only mode of transportation delivering serendipitous inspiration.
You may remember back in June when I reported that the MBTA was eliminating a couple of stops on the number 1 bus line, I wondered what would happen to the space freed up. Well, I’ve been watching those stops and seen no changes. Still no parking, still marked off, still signed as bus stops.
Until last night, when I was riding the 1 bus back from Boston and asked the driver to let me off at one of those stops. The driver – operator 67743 – told me it wasn’t a stop anymore. I pointed out that I could see the bus stop sign and even a person waiting at that stop to get on. Since Yom Kippur was nigh, she made an exception for us.
So, MBTA or Cambridge or whoever, what’s the deal? How are passengers who are not always-internet-connected otaku like myself supposed to know this change is coming up and that it has finally actually happened? (The stop is still shown on the interactive route map on mbta.com justsayin) And, since service to that stop has in fact stopped, why is the sign still up and what’s the plan for repurposing that real estate?
Here’s what I wrote almost three months ago, emphasis added.
…what will happen to the former bus stops? Will more (metered?) parking be created? Bike parking? Ghost stops where parking is prohibited but buses never stop? Pocket parks? Time will tell.
This is not the way I like to be right. I’d say from the position of the fire hydrant that no more than one parking spot on the Clinton Street side could be created, but that would be something. Adding bike parking or something else more interesting would be something too. Not even bothering with a sign saying that the stop is no longer a stop, that’s the worst kind of business as usual around here.
I was not looking forward to my trip to the Charlie Card Store. I was prepared to beg, threaten, maybe even bribe my way through what I was certain would be a Dantean, Kafkaesque, Orwellian, and probably Quixotic* quest to repair or replace my expired Charlie Card.
I am happy to report that (yet again) I was wronger than white shoes after Labor Day. The Charlie Card Store is the nicest space in the entire MBTA system, probably as nice as an Acela first class lounge. I mean that environmentally: it’s an air-conditioned glass box embedded in the corridor of Downtown Crossing station with green and blond wood decor and plenty of seating, and also procedurally: there are six agents plus one more managing the line, and an RMV-style take-a-number system. I arrived at 8 on the dot to join a line of 20 or so. The Store opened right on time and I was out by 8:12.
My only complaint – and you knew that I would have one – is that I shouldn’t have had to go there in the first place. Assuming that the card really had to expire for some good reason, this transaction could have been handled by an agent at any station, or probably even by one of the automated vending machines.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Charlie Card Store makes of people coming in with issues with their Sesame Rings.
* One of these is not like the others. If you can say which and why, you could could play “Odd Man Out” on Says You.
Do you know what you were doing five years ago today? Well, according this this blog, I was in Santa Monica, but according to the MBTA, I was unboxing a brand new Charlie Card. I know this because today, five years later, that Charlie card, suddenly and without warning, expired.
By “expired” do I mean kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible? Apparently not, because the helpful MBTA
resurrectionist customer service person in the station keyed in a secret code on the Charlie card vending machine, tapped my card and read off the balance and passes on it.
So what gives? Well, it seems that what gives is that older Charlie cards like mine have a replicant-like five year lifespan. A new one you get today will last ten years and unlike mine, have the expiration date printed on it. Why does it expire when the electronics inside are still working? Why do I get no warning in advance of this expiration? That’s not for me to ponder, it’s for me to drag my sorry early-Charlie-card-adopting ass to the one and only “Charlie Card Store” at Downtown Crossing three days before the end of the month and get my paid-for passes transferred to a fresh card. I’m sure it won’t be busy at all, since it operates during the commuter-friendly hours of 8:00am till 5:30pm, Monday through Friday.
In New York City, you can exchange an expired MetroCard for a fresh one (as long as it’s less than a year since expiry) at any
token booth with a customer service agent, and I’ve seen those in nearly every station and at all hours of the day and night.
On the way home this evening (after 5:30), the MBTA employee let me through after verifying that my card had a pass on it. In the morning I’ll probably have to pay to get to Downtown Crossing to get this fixed. What are the odds that I’ll get my fare for that trip reimbursed?
Via the estimable newsmachers at UniversalHub, a report that the MBTA is eliminating some stops on 15 of the busiest bus lines in the city this summer. The idea is that snipping out some redundant stops and refurbishing others will reduce end-to-end trip time and cut back on bunching. One of the stops to be eliminated is right in front of limeduck world headquarters, but the T maps show it to be as little as 260 feet from the nearest stop, so I can hardly complain.
Kudos to the T for what seems to be a data-driven harvesting of low-hanging fruit. People close to the soon to be former stops will be inconvenienced, but probably only at one endpoint of their bus journey, and substantially all riders of these lines will reap benefits.
What the always entertaining comments at UHub don’t bring up (yet) is what will happen to the former bus stops? Will more (metered?) parking be created? Bike parking? Ghost stops where parking is prohibited but buses never stop? Pocket parks? Time will tell. Until then, watch this: