All Hail: Charlie, can you hear me?

Remember that time a couple weeks ago when the MBTA was handing out Dunkin Donuts coupons for “random acts of kindness?” The MBTA has apparently taken it upon itself to be the polite police.

I’m just throwing this out there, but the reason people are jerks in the first place is because T service is so inconsistent and late.

I leave an hour in advance to make it to my job that is literally 100 feet from the Lechmere stop. My arrival is anywhere between a half-hour early and 15 minutes late, depending on the whim of the MBTA gods.

The Green Line is the second most heavily used MBTA rail system, according to statistics on mbta.com. So why is it that the E train comes every 20 minutes when it’s supposed to come every 10? I understand that public transportation uses a completely different concept of “on time” than everyone else, so I just assume the T will be late by a minimum of 10 minutes.

The only redeeming quality about the E-train is that it doesn’t go to Fenway, relieving riders from the deluge of fans that take over on game nights. At least service seems faster now because the E-line is closed from Brigham Circle to Heath Street.

The new fare system, CharlieTicket, is a bust. Never mind the fact that the implementation of the new system will make fares increase, how about the genius who planned to put the system in the stations one at a time? The first CharlieTicket station was installed in February 2005 and they’re still working on making the switch.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the reason this nonsense is called the CharlieTicket system. The name is taken from a song about a man named Charlie who doesn’t have the exit fare because the fare was increased. He is then trapped on the train.

While Charlie is short a nickel and can’t leave the T, I have the opposite problem. I have the money, but I can’t even get on a train if I’m throwing $20 bills at people.

I went to Harvard Square and, like many college students, I didn’t have a monthly pass. At Symphony, I paid $2.50, for the way there and back. Once I was ready to come back to Huntington Avenue, I realized Harvard Square still uses the old system and not the CharlieTicket system. I had to shell out another $1.25 for the ride back, bringing my total to $3.75. Unfortunately, I did not have the cash on me, so I ran to the bank and took out $20. I then attempted to pay for a token. The MBTA worker just let me go because she couldn’t break the twenty.

I didn’t even get to run through the gate to ride for free. I’d like to point out that these gates remain open for about two seconds, allowing anyone to walk through behind someone else. This seems exactly like jumping over the old turnstiles. How is this supposed to decrease the number of people evading fares?

Good thing the MBTA approved $3 million to install more security cameras to monitor people stealing from them that they don’t even bother to catch. It’s not like they are operating with a $35 million budget deficit, anyway. Oh wait – they are.

All of this “innovation” is going to cost us more than our sanity or ability to be on time. Effective January 2007, all MBTA fares will be raised. This marks the MBTA’s second fare hike in three years. If you have a CharlieTicket, a subway ride will cost $1.70. If you don’t use the automated card, expect a surcharge of 30 cents. Same goes for the buses: the fare will be $1.25 with a surcharge of 25 cents for those who don’t have a card. Awesome.

– Cait Dooley is a junior journalism major.

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