Everyone loves a Boston girl. This is the story of one Boston girl's adventures in the city, in blogging, and in getting through those crazy 20-something years.

I'm a writer by trade. And by passion. I'm a lover of food, friends, and all things Boston. I listen to music pretty much 24/7 and idolize Martha Stewart. I love my job(s), my life, and this city. Follow me on Twitter! @Susie

beware the mbta officer ticket man.

T is for… Ticket?

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It makes sense that I was a bit confused when my boyfriend ran in the door the other day saying, “I got a ticket!!!” (with some other expletives mixed in). I could see his car outside from where he parked it earlier that day. How do you get a ticket if you’re not driving? Oh, let me just tell you how. Pull up a seat.

What do I like even less than apartment hunting in Boston? Thanks for asking. That would be the MBTA. But then, who likes the MBTA? Don’t get me wrong, I try really, really hard not to complain that much because I feel incredibly lucky to live in a city that actually has a public transportation system. And one that generally works. Really, it could be so much worse. I’m totally aware of this. But. But. But. But. I’m going to complain now. Or something like that.

Yesterday, my boyfriend got a ticket on the T. Yes, a ticket. Did you know? That was possible? Because I did not. Now I do. And I feel it’s my duty to educate all of you.

So, you know when it’s really crowded on the C-line and you walk on in the middle car? Well, he did this while he was on the phone with his mom. And because he was chatting away with his mom, he didn’t go right up to the front of the T to pay his fare. Of course, it was wrong of him. And of course, he would have paid the second he realized it or if they said, “please come to the front of the T to pay your fare” like they often do. But instead, an MBTA officer issued him a ticket. A $15 ticket. For a $2 T ride.

I mean, remember when you didn’t even have to pay to ride outbound on the C-line?! I do.

I understand the MBTA is hurting big time. And they need money really badly. But, can we talk about how many times I’ve gotten on the T and NOT had to pay because the machine is broken? Or because the T driver hasn’t turned it on yet and just waves you on? The drivers often act like they don’t really care collecting your fare and I can’t blame them since the money system is awful and if you don’t have a card, you’ll likely take 10 years to pay your fare angering everyone behind you. Plus, they probably hate their jobs. So, the MBTA is hurting for money. And their solution, instead of MAKING people pay their fare, is giving $15 tickets.

The ticket says “FARE EVASION” on it. He had no less than $40 currently on his T pass. And if the gentleman had said, “sir, go pay your fare,” I guarantee he would have said, “omg I’m sorry!” And gone to pay it. Because he is not a fare evader (He also doesn’t normally say O.M.G. though, just so you know).

I understand ticketing people jumping over turnstiles or refusing to pay or whatever. But the MBTA is clearly hurting so bad for money, they’ve hired an “officer” to ticket everyone who makes an error. Tickets on the T! Who the heck would have thought?

Let this be a warning, good people of Boston. On the street stops, get on the T through the front door. And pay your fare or you’ll be slammed with a ticket. And if you don’t pay the ticket? They will issue a warrant for your arrest!

OK, I’m kind of laughing because, really? This is kind of funny. I’ve never heard of a soul getting a ticket on the T and it would only happen to Chris. Only him. But not, because it could happen to you, too. It’s just so ridiculous.

SEE?!?! He’s really writing Chris a ticket!!!!! On the T!!! (kind of embarrassing, right??)

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This happens. It’s real. Thank you, Boston.

14 Responses to “beware the mbta officer ticket man.”

  1. Chels Says:

    i will never forgot this day. may it live on and on, forever and ever.

  2. BLG Says:

    Hey, at least the T cop found a seat.

  3. Susan Says:

    Insane.

  4. Hillary Says:

    Good. People being careless about paying their fares is why they keep threatening to hike them – which only hurts the people who DO pay their fare. Maybe next time he’ll remember.

  5. Susie Says:

    @Hillary- I’m just saying I think the FIRST step should be drivers not being careless about fares. I’ve been on the T SO many times lately where the driver waves me on and says “it’s OK” about paying. Perhaps they should get fees for not making riders pay??

  6. LB Says:

    “So, you know when it’s really crowded on the C-line and you walk on in the middle car?” First of all, I think we can agree that from the picture that the train is not at all crowded. Second, I ride the green line at least twice a day (both B and C) and the only time people get waved on without paying is when the farebox is malfunctioning, the train is very late and the fares would be refunded for this reason anyways, or the train is filled to capacity and people cannot physically fit in the front door. Whether or not people should line up to pay at the farebox (thus holding up the process on an already delayed train) is at the discretion of the driver, they are in charge and are paid to run the train on schedule and weigh any lost fares against getting the train back on schedule.

    While you seem to think that careless drivers are the norm, I find that many drivers are VERY aggressive about demanding fares from people who jump on the side door. I can think of multiple occasions when my driver has stopped the train, gotten up and walked to the back to get someone to come up front and pay.

    On that note, I believe you and your boyfriend may be confused about the policy regarding walking in the side door. During busy commute hours, drivers will regularly announce that people who hold monthly/weekly passes may enter through the side door while showing their pass, but those who don’t have a pass need to come to the front to pay. This speeds up the boarding process immensely, but obviously causes a situation that can be abused by people pretending to hold passes, hence the threat of random officers ticketing. If your boyfriend has $40 on his card and not a pass, I believe he should not be entering the side door, period. Front door is for cash value, side doors are for passes.

    All that said, I am sorry your boyfriend had to learn this the hard way but I think for most people the fact that if you get on a train without paying you run the risk of penalty is really common knowledge. You get on the train, you pay the fare. You don’t pay, you run the risk of penalty. At the end of the day there is no difference between walking in a side door without holding a pass or jumping a turnstile. Both result in a free ride on the T.

  7. Michael Says:

    You say (almost sarcastically) “On the street stops, get on the T through the front door. And pay your fare or you’ll be slammed with a ticket.” But this is what you’re supposed to do. If you don’t enter through the front door, you better make your way to the front right away — is the driver supposed to wait to see if you’ll come up to the front when you feel like it? Is the driver supposed to wait for you to finish your cell phone call? Is the drivers supposed to know that you intend to pay, and not get lost in the crowd and get off a few stops later? No. The driver has a trolley to drive, and mass transit schedules wait for no lollygagging passenger.

    The fees on subways, trolleys and buses are entrance fees. It sucks that your boyfriend got busted despite what seems to be no malicious intent. But MBTA drivers and inspectors can’t read minds.

    And the sometimes-lax enforcement of fare collection by drivers is a separate issue. The T should address it, but it doesn’t let fare evaders (and those who act like them, even unintentionally) off the hook. This argument sounds a lot like “sometimes employees at the store give merchandise to customers for free, so why are they getting mad at me because I forgot to pay for my items before walking out of the store?” (Absent-mindedness is not a legal defense against a shoplifting charge.)

  8. emrlds Says:

    this is INSANE and really, i can’t believe it hasn’t happened to me yet.

  9. Susie Says:

    I guess I need to clarify some things here:

    a) This post was mostly in good fun and kind of an FYI: there are ticket officers on the T! Because I had never heard of such a thing.

    b) I DO NOT think it’s OK to evade a fare. I completely understand it’s the same as stealing. I was not saying it’s OK. And I would never purposely evade a fare.

    c) If you don’t ride the T at rush hour or really often at all (like Chris), you might not be aware that you shouldn’t get on in the middle door (I ride the T often and never realized that was a rule). Also, I must not have been clear enough to say Chris had JUST gotten on the T and was not even given a chance to go pay. He’s the most honest person I know and the reason he was mostly upset by the ticket is bc he doesn’t want to be thought of as a “fare evader.”

    d) My argument was not even close to “if you get discounts sometimes, then it’s OK to steal other times” It was, if the MBTA is so desperate for money, they shouldn’t be so careless about collecting it. I never said “therefore, it’s OK for people to evade their fares.” I’m just not understanding why if they’re desperate enough to give tickets, they’re not collecting the actual fare sometimes.

    e) 50% of the time I get on the T at Cleveland Circle, I am waved on. It is not crowded. It is generally an empty T. Then I sit on the T for 5 minutes before we leave. I’m not complaining. And again, I’m not saying “therefore we shouldn’t have to pay EVER!” I’m just stating an observation that does not make sense to me.

    f) One last time, I HATE when I see people get on the T and act like they don’t know what’s going on or ignore the announcements they make. I’m not one of those people. Nor is Chris. I’m not saying the MBTA shouldn’t be giving out tickets for people who don’t pay their fares. I think it’s actually a good idea.

    I think it’s actually quite silly I have to defend a post that was written in good humor and was more of an observation of something they’re doing in Boston now. If you knew me (or read any of my other posts), you would see my blog is a fun place and NOT somewhere I generally post serious arguments. I feel bad I upset so many people and I hope you understand where I’m coming from now.

  10. Kori Says:

    I think it’s super lame that all these people are upset about this post. I thought it was hilarious and I can totally see it happening to me. Riding the T is a total gongshow for the most part, particularly the green line. Frankly, the thing that concerns me is that my tax dollars go to a guy who sits on the T and tickets people for fare evasion.

    Really, I’m not trying to be mean here, but aren’t there bigger things to worry about than Chris not paying his fare once?

  11. Chels Says:

    can’t even believe how ridiculous people are with these comments! there’s no need to be nasty! and if you feel the need to be nasty take your business elsewhere.

    all she’s saying (and in good humor and a light hearted attitude) is there should be some consistency with the “rules” on the train and at least give the person a chance to pay. if you get pulled over on the highway the first thing the cop asks is if you know WHY you’re being pulled over. they dont just drive up to you and toss a ticket in your face like this MBTA enforcer did to chris. what if he was deaf or from out of town and had no clue what the mbta “rules” are?! (especially considering there was a point a few years ago where outbound fares were FREE!). bottom line is they should at least inquire before they accuse and fine people.

    AND, if they’re now that concerned about money that they’ve hired people to dole out tickets, they need to stop waving people through! i was on the T last week and didnt have enough money on my T pass so i started to put change in the machine and the driver told me it was fine. Is it really fine? no… so let me put my money in the machine! or tell me to step aside so others can pay first.

    every ride is different… there’s absolutely no consistency with the MBTA and as Kori said, it’s basically a joke that we’ve all pretty much gotten used to.

  12. Marcus Says:

    Susie,
    Great post, and yes, this HAPPENED to me. It was in November of 2008 and I had just returned to work from a medical leave. I ruptured my Achilles tendon the prior month and was then commuting to work with my entire lower leg in an aircast.

    It was a very cold morning and the Summit Ave stop was packed. The middle doors of the T car opened and I, along with 15 or so others, walked in and scrambled for space. A nice person noticed my leg cast and let me sit down. My butt had no sooner hit the seat when an MBTA official started writing me a ticket for fare evasion.

    The happy ending to this story is that the official was just going through the motions. He said to me, “I’m very sorry, but my boss is watching from the other end of the car and I have to make it look like I’m giving you a ticket. I’m putting a fake name on this, and as soon as you get to your office I want you to call the MBTA and tell them how ridiculous this is.”

    He apologized while handing me the fake ticket, then made his way through the crowd towards his boss. I believe they got off at the next stop, which was Coolidge Corner, just as 30 or more people crowded in through the middle doors.

    Unbelievable.

    Marcus

  13. Gooseberried Says:

    That is ridiculous. Like speeding tickets, you should also first get a warning before getting an actual ticket unless, of course, someone is going insanely over the speed limit which would be comparable to what? Refusing to pay on the T? Then that person would deserve an actual ticket.

    Other than that, maybe they should not hire an officer to sit on the T and issue tickets. That would save them a lot of money. But since they do, he’s going to have to give out tickets for ridiculous reasons or else they’ll have to eliminate his position for lack of turn over.

    Either way, glad I live in a small city sometimes. And also? Clearly this post was light hearted. The past few weeks have really helped me to realize that people are way too serious in the world.

  14. Vi Says:

    This is funny, it reminds me so much of our train officers here in Sydney, Australia. I used to travel to school with my friends on the train. We would get free passes to get to school and back, but if we didn’t have them on us, we could be charged up to $200. As scatter brained kids, we were going to forget our passes occasionally. When we did, we would be so terrified of being charged, it was crazy, I swear I used to get palpitations whenever the guards walked past me. The best thing to do was to travel in a group, and then rush behind people through the barriers at the station – they didn’t care if we did it as a group. When you were alone, however, and tried to pass through without a ticket, they would often pick on you, and if not charge you, they would threaten to write a letter to your school or just stand there making random threats. There was this one time when I was on the train home with two friends, and two of us didn’t have our passes. These three guards got on, and usually when they got on, it meant they were going to check tickets. We literally froze and could not move, for some reason, they didn’t check anyone, but man, it was so scary. I think it’s pretty unfair to charge kids, especially in this situation when you know that they do have passes (some guards would see our school uniform and let us off because they figured we had free state passes) but have just forgotten them, because um, they’re only human.

    On the other hand, I’m (not so) ashamed to say that yes, I have evaded fares, and quite deliberately, I might add. In Sydney, the train system is horrendously inefficient and ridiculously expensive. We pay quite a bit of tax in this country – and we get a lot of benefits for it, we have a pretty good public health care system, welfare system and university loan system which makes it possible for everyone, regardless of family background or financial history, to have access to medical care, extra money for rent or a university education if they so wish. This tax money is also being poured into the train system, apparently, however the fares are simply ridiculous. I live within 10 miles of the centre of the city, yet at any given time of the day, I can be expected to pay up to $8 (AUD) for a return ticket. I don’t evade all the time, but if I decide to take the train home and am passing through the station, and only need to travel a stop or two, and don’t have much cash on me, I’m not opposed to simply not paying. It may sound like stealing, but to be honest, the state steals a lot more off us, and most people I know do it from time to time. In the States and in Europe, the trains are generally a lot more efficient and much, much cheaper. I’m a good citizen, I pay my taxes and I give to charity, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty, I’m not willing to pay $8 to travel 10 minutes home. The state government here is renowned as corrupt and greedy, I really don’t care if I cheat them out of a few dollars here and there. They’d only use it to build environmentally damaging “developments” over iconic Sydney landmarks anyway.

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