I can be as cynical as anyone about befuddled, unthinking, unresponsive bureaucrats. One thoroughly surprised me last evening. I got an almost instantaneous reply…from a human…with a resolution to a complaint.
I felt like a panel in one of Keith Knight’s Life’s Little Victories.
It was just over a nickel. I figured the rules-are-rules, that’s-the-way-it-is forces would likely ignore me or eventually tell me to go away. Instead, I got a callback within 10 minutes of emailing a complaint.
Maybe it was the French connection. Keolis manages the commuter rail here, including fare collection and ticket issuing on trains. After a terrible winter with many skipped or late trains, they try to be efficient and revenue producing.
As of July 1, the MBTA hiked fares roughly 5%. A few fares fell on one side or another of a price fence. The one at issue here was the zone 1A train fare for those with a senior card, i.e. me. The rate as of July 1 went to $1.10 one way from my Fairmount stop to South Station.
Recently and suddenly, the conductors have adamantly demanded not $2.20 for a round trip, rather $2.25. There’s a bureaucratic logic to that, in that senior prices are almost all 50% that of regular adult tickets. Yet, it’s not $1.125 one way, just $1.10.
Someone had clearly trained the conductors poorly on this fine point. One after another told me strongly that the round trip was $2.25. They just knew it. I on the other hand had seen the initial price hike info, including the posters that appeared for weeks in each train with the $1.10/$2.20 info.
No Chewing Gum
I admit that today’s nickel is yesterday penny. When I was wee, it would buy a five-stick pack of gum. Not in 2016. 5¢ pieces are earning the same disdain as 1¢ ones. They are more of an inconvenience than currency.
Yesterday I decided to test my memory. I bought a $1.10 ticket to South Station. There, I went to the commuter-rail ticket office to:
- Buy a return ticket and
- Ask the clerk what the round trip fare is
She must be used to alter kakers and other sticklers. She didn’t laugh or tell me to drop dead. She immediately said $2.20 and then verified that by calling up the ticket on her database and computer screen. Sure enough, $2.20.
Last evening, I used the MBTA site’s contact-us tab. I sent my whiny complaint by their form.
Within a few minutes, I got a call. That was remarkable enough. Moreover, she said, “You’re right.” Beyond that she said they’d immediately send a memo to all the conductors informing them that the senior round trip in zone 1A is $2.20, not $2.25. She agreed what 5¢ was small change indeed, but “We should all be on the same page.”