T-ed off

Dear MBTA,

Your proven ability to infuriate customers is commendable. From replacing rail service 10 years too late with a big, slow silver bus to providing our children with the lifelong gift of asthma, it's clear that the customers always come first.

So it should have been no surprise the last two times I tried to board at Government Center and Park Street that you no longer saw fit to actually employ fare collectors to work in the booth and provide change for fresh-from-the-ATM $20s (which, by the way, are conveniently not accepted at the token machines in these stations). No, your fare collectors were dutifully positioned at the turnstiles, telling customers, "exact change only." A noble idea, if only it were feasible to expect customers at two major hubs of transportation to have exact change or be willing to sacrifice a $10 bill in exchange for eight tokens (which aren't even legal tender at area bars or half the other T stations).

I guess it would make too much sense to demand exact change only after you install those new CharlieTicket machines, which take $20s and allow you to actually decide the number of rides you get and amount of cash back (or $1 coins, anyway).

But perhaps this is a brilliant plan, this making customers walk to the next station in frustration and disbelief, hoping to find a real fare collector. Because if you start now, there will be less backlash from how much people hate the new fare collection system and resent the fact that their money is being spent not on service improvements but on crappy, unnecessary turnstile replacements.

Here's to those fare increases you announced - I can't wait. Keep up the amazing work!

Sabine Strohem

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