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Token resistance

Two stories in today's Boston papers struck me as not necessarily directly connected, but possibly thematically so.

First, the MBTA announced that its fares were going up -- by about 80%. And like all good bureaucrats, the spokesweasel held the news until 9:00 p.m. Friday night.

Secondly, Canadian officials have been plagued with counterfeit transit tokens of late. The fakes are nearly flawless, as far as the meters are concerned, and being sold on the streets for considerably less than the real tokens' value of $1.90. The Canadians have -- understandably -- irritated about this, and have put considerable time and attention into tracking down the source of the bunko tokens.

Well, they think they have found who's making them, and it looks like it's a Massachusetts company. Offiicals won't identify the company yet, as they haven't any solid proof, but they are giving them a very hairy eyeball.

Ah, Massachusetts... always willing and eager for new ways to take people's money, by hook or by crook, and almost never will the fleece-ees get actual value for the money they have extracted.


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Comments (6)

Ah, Massachusetts... alw... (Below threshold)

Ah, Massachusetts... always willing and eager for new ways to take people's money, by hook or by crook, and almost never will the fleece-ees get actual value for the money they have extracted.

The Red Sox do occasionally deliver, you know. They don't exactly cover the beer prices at Fenway, but I always feel like I've got my money's worth.

That's because my brother-in-law buys the tickets.

Hey, the Canadians could pa... (Below threshold)

Hey, the Canadians could pass a law like the one, recently repealed, here in Georgia. Seems that it was illegal to sell any MARTA [Metro Atlanta Regional Transit Authority] tokens to someone else, or even to give them away. MARTA asked for the law in 1992 to curb counterfeiting.

Well, it seems that a few months ago, Donald Pirone put a $10 into a token machine and received 5 tokens. The machines don't give change, so MARTA made an extra $1.25 immediately. I heard him on the Neal Boortz show the next day, describing what started the whole thing, and what happened next.

Seems that Mr. Pirone and a friend were going to work. Since Mr. Pirone did not have small change, his friend gave him $1.75 in advance. He bought the tokens, and gave his friend one. A man was standing at the next machine, trying to get it to take a worn $1 bill. He asked Mr. Pirone if he could get a token from him. Mr Pirone gave him one, and turned to leave. The man stopped him, and gave him the $1.75. They walked to the turnstile, where Mr. Pirone was stopped, physically pulled from the line by a plainclothes MARTA policeman, and handcuffed. The officer saw all that happened, but after all, it is a violation of the law, he said. Held him for 2 hours. And then issued him a citation, punishable by up to 12 months in jail. An hourly employee, Mr. Pirone missed work that day, and for every day he had to miss to go to court.

Well, I don't know what the outcome of the case. I know that it was reported that the case was being 'vigorously prosecuted' by the Fulton County D.A. and that a sympathetic judge was pursuing the case with equal vigor. MARTA spokesperson Jocelyn Baker explained, as only a bureaucrat could, that "There are customer service phones for people who are having trouble getting tokens out of the machine." I'm sure the poor soul, probably going to work, could wait for who knows how long to get help from MARTA "customer service".

Meanwhile, MARTA is advertising heavily now that gas has gone up, an was during the time that this occured [post Katrina], pushing for increased ridership to save money. And they wonder why more people in Atlanta don't avail themselves to their "service".

The GA legislature repealed this stupid law this session, too late for Mr. Pirone. I guess no good deed goes unpunished in the eyes of the government.

I have to give credit to th... (Below threshold)

I have to give credit to the Washington DC Metro system on this one. Twice in the last year I've had problems with the farecards and/or farecard machines, and both times the problem was solved within a couple of minutes and strictly on my say-so. No questioning whether I was trying to rip them off or cheat the system, the attitude was "make it right, right now."

When I lived in Toronto a f... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

When I lived in Toronto a few years ago, the TTC, to its detractors 'Take the Car', was actually considered by most of its riders a good 'mass public transit'. No one ever considered that this might be refering to the origin of so many of the tokens they were using . But, perhaps, Massachusettes has done Toronto public officials a favor in slowly enlightenening them to the range of fraud, that can become so widespead before it is detected.

I dunno Jay -- over the pa... (Below threshold)

I dunno Jay -- over the past twenty years, the T has had the onus of (a) restoring (i.e., gut-rehabbing) one of the the oldest transit systems in the country, (b) expanding the system (per consent decree mandates via litigation from CLF) miles and miles, (c) purchasing hundreds of new busses and trolleys that are ADA-compliant and (d) doing all of it on fares that didn't budge for decades under pressure from urban politicians to keep their constituents happy.

Even now, the T is as good a public transit bargain as you'll find anywhere in U.S. urban America. If they were ever to be able to break the death grip of the Carmens' Union, they might actually be well run and inexpensive. But for now, unless the taxpayers are asked to continue to cover the blank check, fares have to rise to a reasonable cost/user basis.

For some reason, I am remin... (Below threshold)

For some reason, I am reminded of the old Kingston Trio song "MTA".






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