So, it’s been a week now that the turnstiles (but see below) at Government Center have refused my FrankenCharlieTicket-Pass Outer Express Bus Pass. At first I was worried that Charlie had had an intimate encounter with the magnetic clasp on my cute little backpack, but when I got on the subway at Kenmore suddenly FrankenCharlie was working again. And of course it still works on the Outer Express Bus (which is somewhere between $2.30 and $3.30 more expensive than a subway ride, so the Outer Express Bus pass is supposed to cover a mere subway fare). Then I thought maybe it was a sting operation, like that pfennigs-on-the-MBTA stakeout back in the days of the token. But it’s gone on too long for any of that.
By “turnstiles” I mean “new plastic gates that replaced the old metal turnstiles”. I had hoped that the weekend would suffice to fix the so-called turnstiles at a major transfer point, but no. What was I thinking? That the MBTA was going to fix a problem? My only excuse is that NaNoWriMo has left me sleep-deprived. Of course, the turnstiles were still broken, and I was getting pretty annoyed.
It’s annoying enough that I have to use a FrankenCharlieTicket-Pass at all, when an Outer Express Bus Pass was supposed to be able to be put onto a real RFID CharlieCard this past summer. True Charlification has been postponed until sometime next year, which is to say, indefinitely. (Note in the article that the MBTA has not even thought about the Charlie Vending in the ‘Burbs issue, which goes to show that they were lying about the Summer 2007 thing all along.) You don’t want me to explain why the Charlie medium of my Outer Express Bus Pass is intimately linked—if you’ll pardon the pun—to the issue of Charlie vending machines at commuter rail stops in the suburbs.
So instead I’m forced to buy FrankenCharlieTicket-Passes and stick them into the little slots on turnstiles and bus fare collection boxes, while all the cool kids just wave their CharlieCards in the general direction of the RFID reader and move on. Sometimes your fingers get sucked in along with the CharlieTicket on the turnstiles, and it hurts. It’s also annoying that every driver and carman has his own personal opinion of whether it’s worth waiting seven times longer for the fare box to slurp up your CharlieTicket and spit it back out again, and the ones who are pro-slurp look at you like a fare evader ($129/month is hardly evasion) just because you’ve been trained to flash your CharlieTicket by the anti-slurp ones.
FrankenCharlie also means I can’t use a CharlieMitten. And don’t get me started on the annoying pointless unnamed bus connection announcements at almost every subway stop. (Who knew busses stopped at Arlington?)
The point being, I was annoyed when the turnstile refused my pass today. So I asked the T worker whose job it is to stand at the turnstiles at Government Center and apply his magic SuperCharlieCard to the RFID reader whenever someone comes by with an Outer Express Bus Pass (and who knows what other passes are being rejected) what was going on. He said it was the software.
So I have a suggestion for the MBTA. Why don’t you get a copy of the software on the turnstiles at Kenmore and put it on the turnstiles at Government Center, eh? It’s a subway station. They all charge the same amount now, as far as I know (where “the same amount” means “either $1.70 or $2.00, depending on your Charlie medium, modulo any discounts for special classes of rider”). And here’s an even better suggestion: stop running a major transit system on WindowsXP.