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Fare gates coming for commuter-rail riders

WCVB reports the first commutergates will be installed at North Station by next summer, followed by similar contraptions at South Station and Back Bay.

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This is going to be a mess.

#FreeTheMBTA

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Voting closed 7

In other words. They need to go back to the drawing board. Keolis is I guess still unaware of the public access routes around South Station. They're showing a fare gate wall on the northeast edge of the exterior platforms: aka the Seaport entry-exit. However, this walls off the public access connection to Atlantic Ave AND the lesser known public connection between South Station and the USPS "Mall": aka the public hall running through the USPS Fort Point facility that contains a credit union, convenience store, and of course a post office. The USPS Mall area is also a drop-off point for several private commuter and hotel shuttles. If there was a pedestrian bridge running over the Channel between Necco Ct and the USPS Mall hall, the entire South Station - USPS Mall connection would be well known. However it's still an obscure connection that even Keolis is unaware of. The best they can do at South is fence off each platform at their start point. They cannot fence off the public access routes.

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Voting closed 19

So much for free rides when they don't feel like checking tickets. :-)

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free rides when the ticket gates are broken so they have to leave them open. How much are we paying for these systems vs how much they take in again?

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They will not make enough to pay for their installation.

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...from your driveway to...everywhere? And how much do they "take in" again?

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Different analogy here. This would be like building a toll booth that costs more to operate than the toll revenue it would generate.

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Voting closed 26

With the large deficit, they're also pushing for income based fares which could cost the T $25M per year. And definitely wont be abused.

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...to blame the poor. But for the grace of fortune, go you.

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WCVB has one of those "infinite scroll" things, so if you make the mistake of scrolling too far in an article, the URL changes as well, only you might not notice. And that's what I did ...

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Can't Imagine this will be worth it or effective.

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Despite all the grumbling, I predict this will be of no inconvenience to 95%+ of people boarding the trains. It could be a problem for the late "runners" and the people who usually don't pay, but for everyone else it will just mean having to pull out your pass as you get ready to board.

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Voting closed 26

... to pull out your ticket or pass before boarding. It slows down boarding and makes passengers vulnerable to theft and loss when they have to fumble through stuff with full hands or small children. People who accompany others down the quays to help elderly or disabled folks board and find a seat will no longer be able to do so.
Worst of all with be the added roadblocks for seniors and the mobility impaired who often have to pass through special gates located out of the way because they have a wheelchair or use a special pass that is rejected at regular stiles, as is often the case already in T stations.

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Voting closed 10

I am at South Station in the morning and the early evening. I have had to "run the gauntlet" and get my pass checked, pre boarding.

It has not slowed down boarding by that much.

I have not seen anyone being robbed; most folks know the drill and have their passes or phones out. The issue is for folks that do not have a smart phone; they have to run back to the Station and purchase a ticket (which is a pain). Nor have I seen any older folks and/or disabled folks having an issue.

In regards to your last paragraph, I do agree that many of the gates at T stations do not work well, for all of us, actually. I can only hope that the fare gates at South Station fare better.

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Being forced to take out your pass before boarding, opening yourself up to theft!! Who do they think you are??!! Bus riders? Subway riders??!!? Because literally everyone else riding public transportation in Boston have to do that and somehow manage without special treatment so deal. You get hooks for your coats, shelves for your bags to the point where you can play card games with your buddies. This should have been done years ago - get used to it.

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for boarding enough in advance of departure, which normally doesn't happen now. Otherwise, the faregates are only going to worsen the current boarding congestion.

Equally important is the impact these faregates will have in delaying people getting off inbound trains, especially during the AM rush hour.

But Keolis's response to such legitimate concerns is "Oh, passengers will adapt."

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Voting closed 35

It’s already a big problem without the new obstacles.

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to the crappy T service.

Keolis is right. We'll suffer through anything.

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Note that the gates will not be at the platform doors, they'll be across the entire concourse where it meets the rear hallway - i.e. behind the central Dunk's. Crowds getting off trains will be able to spread out rather than being funneled through 2 or 3 gates, so it shouldn't have a significant impact.

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Voting closed 7

The problem is the trains are too crowded so the conductors can't walk the train to check for valid tickets.

A sensible person would solve the problem by spending money to increase capacity so that everyone got a seat and the conductors have no problem moving about the train. This would could increase ridership too since using the trains would be more comfortable.

A deranged MBTA would solve the problem by spending money on additional fare gates that make the system more unpleasant so that more people decide to drive anyway.

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is that on some of my rush hour trains that I take, even when it is not crowded, and the aisles are clear, my pass does not get checked. This usually happens when the train is short staff conductors. But not always.

Perhaps Keolis also has en employee morale issue?

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Voting closed 10

by adding fare gates. Right now, the number of cars available is based on how many conductors they have to take tickets/fares. If all the people on board have already paid, there wouldn't be the need to limit the number of cars. So a sensible person has already thought of it.

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Does anyone know how many fare evasions citations have been issued on the commuter rail this year. My guess is zero!

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How do you charge different commuter-rail rates from fair gates?

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These gates solve absolutely nothing. You still need to pay conductors to check all the tickets on the train. If you have a Zone 1A rail pass, you get past the fare gates even if the train doesn't stop at any zone 1A stations.

These gates make it look like the MBTA is "doing sometime" to catch the very small number of people who don't buy tickets. But in reality all it will do is make boarding the train even more inconvenient when traveling at peak times.

This policy makes about as much sense as setting your couch on fire instead of turning up the heat if you're cold.

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Voting closed 49

The biggest problem with the current system is that plenty of people don't pay at all. If a handful of people game the system by paying for a cheaper zone, it's still better than them paying nothing.

(Also, as Neal points out, eventually this can be configured to catch people who underpay.)

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as to what percentage of commuter rail riders do not pay a fare? Or is the T justifying this expensive exercise on guesstimates and anecdotal evidence?

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In your mind, not in reality.

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Love the burning sofa analogy.

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Since they don't have auto fare readers, commuter rail passes have to be issued monthly for all riders instead of recharging Charlie Cards. This is one step towards having those riders on the Charlie Card system. It will also safeguard the money spent on the passes. If you lose them, you have to buy another to replace. Charlie Cards can be registered and reissued with fares loaded intact.

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These types of passenger rail fare gates work well in Japan, from my experience: https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/ticket/station.html

And they have them in Paris too, so maybe Keolis has some knowledge of how it went there: https://www.seat61.com/tgv.htm#TGV_travel_tips

I know, I know, comparing the T commuter rail w/ cutting edge, world class, train systems...but how hard can it be to implement these gates? And commuter rail riders do say it's important to them that people cannot consistently count on free rides during rush hours.

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Iarnród Éireann, Ireland's national railroad, gates most, if not all of its station platforms (even very rural stations), and uses the same exact model gates as used on the MBTA. You have to have a valid ticket to enter and use the same valid ticket to exit (so that, for example, if you are going from Dublin to Cork, but only buy a ticket to Portlaoise, you won't be able to exit without paying the difference in fare). There was also periodic ticket inspection by the conductors on board the train.This seems to work most of the time, though last year when I was waiting for a Cork to Dublin train that was running a little late, the gate attendants at Cork Kent opened all of the gates, allowing everyone waiting to board more quickly. Despite a slight slowdown, there were no real issues exiting at Dublin Heuston, since there were plenty enough gates to handle trainloads of people exiting there.

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the T will not be installing gates at all stations, so there is no tap in/tap out capability, which means this whole system will solve nothing except to gum up the whole boarding process, which already is chaotic.

I love how the train will leave, even if you are halfway down the platform running to get to the only open door during off-peak trains, which is located 1/8 mile from the entrance.

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you often have to walk at least one or two cars down the platform to board. If you're going to limit the number of cars people can board, common sense tells me you open the cars closest to the platform entrance, not furthest from it.

Then again, this is Keolis.

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common sense tells me you open the cars closest to the platform entrance

Except that they're limited by ADA requirements. All the mini-high platforms are at the outbound ends, thus you need to have the car closest to the locomotive open at all times to accommodate passengers with mobility difficulties (this is also the designated restroom car on each train). And you need to have at least one conductor per two adjacent cars, in order to operate doors, etc., so you can't open just the first and last cars. Logically then you have to open cars starting at the locomotive and working back.

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.... in cities that already have the infrastructure.
This will require far more rebuilding of stations to work in Boston than this plan reveals. It’s the Big Dig all over again.

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Make large parts of south and north stations inaccessible to anyone but ticketed passengers. There’s got to be a better way.

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I presume the gates will be roughly where you leave the station and go onto the platform. Unless you are in the habit of kissing your paramour farewell as they board the train, this won't affect you.

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... on the platform for a few decades now. But it certainly will affect those disabled people who sometimes need help getting to the right car or seat.

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Due to making South Station into a Mall, there is less seating and less places for folks to stand and wait. And as the, er, commuter rail has delays, almost daily now, that means more large groups of people looking for a place to stand where they don't get run over by people trying to board.

I usually stand near the doors, to the side, on the inside of the Station. If that space is gone, than it will be one less space to stand.

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since they put in the bar, the Second Dunks, the newsstand, etc.

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It is a homeless shelter and the stalls in the men's room are booked solid in cold weather.

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Gates will not be at platform doors, they'll be farther back, so most of the concourse will be within the paid area, at least at North Station.

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So you've killed off the sales the N Station businesses get from non train riders.

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... be sure to extend their stays once they get in on the lowest fare ticket.

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You can't buy that ticket from a fare machine. You have to buy it on the train.

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at a train station. (Well, at South, North, and Back Bay that I know of.)

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Since the bulk of the weekend pass traffic is coming from outer points into the city (and returning later), people need the pass starting with their first trip.

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You can get the weekend fare on the mTicket app.

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It's going to be a stampede when the PA system calls the track # 5-7 minutes before departure.

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Will these faregates ultimately be compatible with whatever whiz-bang ultra specialized high tech system they come up with for the ever increasingly delayed and ever more expensive AFC 2.0?

Or will it be another orphan system like pay by smartphone, which was supposed to be adapted to the subway faregates as well, has become?

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The millions of dollars this will cost would only make sense if they reduced onboard staffing since ticket checks would be less necessary.

But they can't, because the outdated design of the trains and stations means a conductor is needed to manually open doors for every pair of cars.

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I'm just trying to imagine fare gates at any of the commuter rail platforms at Penn Station NY.
... especially at the two little staircase doors leading down to the west end of Tracks 3 & 4 for NJTransit. Oh the humanity...

For that matter, the afternoon outbound sprint at Penn Station Newark from PATH platform H down to commuter trains on Tracks 2, 3, 4 & 5. Get in the way of that stampede and you'll end up looking like Mustafa in The Lion King!

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How many fare gates can they fit across a two-track platform? They'd have to put the barrier at an angle to have more than four. It might be tough to even get that, because at least one gate at each platform would have to be wide enough for ADA. Also for redcap's carts at platforms they share with Amtrak.
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What happens when there's an arriving train on one track of a platform at the same time boarding has been called for a departing train at the other track of a platform? Does the unlucky side have to push against the tide - or will they reserve some gates (at least 1 ADA and 1 faster) in each direction?

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Gates will be across the concourse, not at the platform doors, at least at North Station, largely because of the constraints you cite.

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to use the restroom you have to pay again to return?

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There will be no payment happening at the gates. The gates will just be to ensure you have a valid ticket. It will read your ticket but not capture it, since you'll potentially still need to show it to a conductor. Thus I presume but cannot confirm that you will be able to use the same ticket to enter/exit multiple times during that ticket's period of validity.

It wouldn't surprise me for the restrooms to end up in the "paid" zone though.

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Careful with the word 'no payment'. Right now with the gate guards, you just have to 'show' your paper ticket, but must 'activate' your m-ticket - effectively paying for the fare. No problem 99% of the time, but if they cancel the train (or you have to get off before departure and head back to the office), the m-ticket people are now out a fare, since the T now has a "no refunds ever" policy.

So when these new gates 'ensure' you have a ticket, is the same deal? Free for paper tickets but fare collected for m-tickets?

(And how will Amtrak tickets work at any of these locations?)

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Why would pax using mTickets be out a fare? If they activated their ticket to get through the gate, but the train was canceled after boarding (something I've never seen happen in 8 years of riding the commuter rail), they're still inside the "paid" area, and can just go board the next train.
It seems like your hypothetical scenario is still assuming there are gates at the platforms, which will not be the case.

As for Amtrak tickets, I am not aware of what the specific plan to accommodate them is (though I know there is one). Will likely involve either a staffed gate just for Amtrak pax or gates being able to read Amtrak tickets, which shouldn't be too difficult since they have bar codes on them.

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Voting closed 6

There are times the schedule is bad enough if a train is cancelled, I will abandon the trip. And it is not a hypothetical situation - it had indeed happened to me before. Keolis loves cancelling trains, assuming I have nothing better to do than wait around an hour for the next train...

Along the same lines - will they install visible train boards outside the N Station pay area, so I can see if trains are cancelled before having to go into the pay area?

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