MBTA Commuter Rail (Operations, Keolis, & Short Term)

BostonUrbEx

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The MBTA got it for free that's why. It's a free perk they pay nothing for. https://blog.mass.gov/transportation/mbta/mbta-new-wifi-system-announced/
I don't think that system ever rolled out. IIRC, that is the system where NIMBYs in places like Andover flipped their shit over wifi towers needing to be put up.

The system prior to this, which is still the one in use today AFAIK, was also free. It was provided by AT&T and relies on their cell phone network.
 

Arlington

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I'm going to split CR conversations out of "General MBTA" Thread

Topicality for this thread:
- Any Operations, operating budget
- Any Keolis / outsourcing
- WiFi, PTC, and other CR-specific non-fare tech
- B&M (North) and New Haven Lines (South) kind of "what tracks we own"
- Upgrades/extensions/infills tweaks like Foxboro and Worcester and Fairmont and Boston Landing
- CR related projects from the MBTA Projects Page (https://www.mbta.com/projects)
- Rolling stock "ongoing" procurement & refurb

But not
- Regional Rail, long-term, & electrification "vision" stuff (until "it is happening")


I chose an Event Horizon of Feb 2019 to to to extract some CR history from the General MBTA thread and begin this thread with the then newly-released CR stats.

*DMU's failed procurement will remain a "2016 thing" in the General MBTA thread
 
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jass

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Insanely old news they announced this over 9 months ago and included those exact renderings in their announcement, it has already been discussed at length on here.
Wasnt it announced and then sort of died because the MBTA said that the Charlie system was dead and obsolete and blah blah blah?

And now theyre going to buy hundreds of new charlie gates?

Curious.
 

stefal

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Diagram shows that if youre in the north station waiting area, your train is delayed, and you need the bathroom, youre out of luck

There's really no way to fix that other than building bathrooms in the waiting area, which gets a bit crowded during the peak rush, meaning you'd likely have to take out one of the on-the-go food places, and it'd be a rather awkward set up at that.

You can't really move the fare gates anywhere else. The bathrooms are shared with and in the path of TD garden ticket-holders, so moving them further back in that hallway complicates that layout, and putting them directly in front of the platforms is a clusterfuck waiting to happen.
 

HenryAlan

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As I understand it, the fare gates aren't actually collecting or validating the fare, just confirming that you have a ticket. If so, it should be possible to exit fare control and return if need be.
 

Arlington

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As I understand it, the fare gates aren't actually collecting or validating the fare, just confirming that you have a ticket. If so, it should be possible to exit fare control and return if need be.
That fits with my understanding.

Today, the QR code on my phone can be scanned an unlimited number of times once it has been activated and until it times out (2 hours? 3 hours?). If I were sufficiently cheap/evil/genius I could pass my phone or pass to another rider every time the conductor went by, which is about the same as doing a "passback" at the turnstyle.

Similarly the humans doing "entry checks" are not asking if the Zone1A pass that you're showing has any relation to where you're going (maybe you're going to Providence or Lowell).

It is just asking: is this one person, at this instant, holding active/valid fare media. It isn't perfect but it thwarts the most primative kinds of fare beating:
1) Buying a ticket on the train only when "caught"
2) Being generally a vagrant with no plan to pay
3) Not activating your mTicket unless asked (now you'll be asked by "the gate")
 
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BostonUrbEx

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2) Being generally a vagrant with no plan to pay
Step 1, buy a single Zone 1A ticket. Step 2, scan it to enter. Step 3, place in pocket. Step 4, tell conductor you don't have a ticket/you lost your ticket/etc. Repeat from Step 2 every damn time with the same ticket purchased in Step 1 over and over and over.
 

Arlington

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Step 1, buy a single Zone 1A ticket. Step 2, scan it to enter. Step 3, place in pocket. Step 4, tell conductor you don't have a ticket/you lost your ticket/etc. Repeat from Step 2 every damn time with the same ticket purchased in Step 1 over and over and over.
That's a plan. All fare systems invite planful fare-beating.

Step 1 under all regimes (gates, humans, Proof of Payment) is to at least make unplanful fare-beating hard (unplanful = the "I don't pay if nobody asks" + "I situate myself such that nobody asks")

Step 2 is some (any!) sort of Step 2, such as exit gates that actually complete the loop on the fare calculation & payment. Or just a human conductor.

2 steps is about the most that economics demand/support
 
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jass

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As I understand it, the fare gates aren't actually collecting or validating the fare, just confirming that you have a ticket. If so, it should be possible to exit fare control and return if need be.
Sounds like train station seating that is "for ticketed passengers only" and the homeless guy has a ticket from 2004 he shows when asked.
 

Arlington

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Sounds like train station seating that is "for ticketed passengers only" and the homeless guy has a ticket from 2004 he shows when asked.
It isn't that we hate all poor people, you see, just the ones that fail to plan ahead. :rolleyes:

Though, given that MBTA tickets expire after 90 days, they'll have to update their lounge pass every 90 days
 

FK4

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Java King

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I've been on quite a few systems in London, Manchester UK, Sydney, and Melbourne..........and they all have fare gates at their main station hubs. I remember being upset there was no coffee behind the fare gate system in Manchester and I wish I would have known beforehand. However generally speaking, they all operated just fine and seemed reasonable. I wanted to roam around the main Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, but I had to have a ticket to even enter the station! Southern Cross Station was newer and didn't have that issue. There were tons of food and retail options before the fare gates at Southern Cross. I just don't see the big deal here in Boston, and it seems like a good idea to me.
 

HelloBostonHi

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So does it flat out not work on all the other lines?

My point isn’t really asking why the T would do this; the point is that it’s incredibly stupid PR to offer something that doesn’t work. Either make it work or don’t offer it at all.
"Why the T would do this" if a company comes to the MBTA and offers a free service, they are in no position to turn it down. It's that simple. Some riders use it and probably enjoy it. The same can be said about airplane wifi, it works about 50% of the time. Same with Intercity bus wifi (Greyhound). It's the reality that mobile wifi relies on cell service, and if cell service is bad in an area the wifi won't work. And cell companies have to deal with neighbors when it comes to installing more cell towers.

Be happy there's anything, as much as I love London, their trains have nothing, and the underground has no cell service. The MBTA has cell beacons installed in all their tunnels so at least cell phones always work on the subway.
 

FK4

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"Why the T would do this" if a company comes to the MBTA and offers a free service, they are in no position to turn it down. It's that simple. Some riders use it and probably enjoy it. The same can be said about airplane wifi, it works about 50% of the time. Same with Intercity bus wifi (Greyhound). It's the reality that mobile wifi relies on cell service, and if cell service is bad in an area the wifi won't work. And cell companies have to deal with neighbors when it comes to installing more cell towers.

Be happy there's anything, as much as I love London, their trains have nothing, and the underground has no cell service. The MBTA has cell beacons installed in all their tunnels so at least cell phones always work on the subway.
Not to belabor the point, but on the Needham line, it doesn’t work. Period. Like, it’s not super slow or spotty, it just doesn’t work at all. Airplane WiFi is intermittent and annoying, but it works enough of the time that it’s a reasonable thing to offer as an amenity. So, if MBTA commuter rail WiFi works on other lines even if spotty, I guess that’s sort of justifiable. My experience is that it doesn’t work at all and that is a horrible thing to do from a customer service angle. Better to just say there’s not WiFi on certain lines. This is a comment on the marketing decision making at the MBTA... which time and again proves to be horrendous.
 

HenryAlan

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The Needham line runs through some of the worst areas in the city for cell tower coverage. I never use the WiFii on that route, because just like my phone's data service, it fades out around Jackson Square and never returns. But that's not an issue with the T's equipment, but with the network that they don't own or operate.
 

JeffDowntown

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The Needham line runs through some of the worst areas in the city for cell tower coverage. I never use the WiFii on that route, because just like my phone's data service, it fades out around Jackson Square and never returns. But that's not an issue with the T's equipment, but with the network that they don't own or operate.
Yes, there are Metro West communities that are notorious for not allowing sufficient cell towers to be built.
 

MjolnirMan

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Not to belabor the point, but on the Needham line, it doesn’t work. Period. Like, it’s not super slow or spotty, it just doesn’t work at all. Airplane WiFi is intermittent and annoying, but it works enough of the time that it’s a reasonable thing to offer as an amenity. So, if MBTA commuter rail WiFi works on other lines even if spotty, I guess that’s sort of justifiable. My experience is that it doesn’t work at all and that is a horrible thing to do from a customer service angle. Better to just say there’s not WiFi on certain lines. This is a comment on the marketing decision making at the MBTA... which time and again proves to be horrendous.
I used to spend quite a lot of time on the Providence line trying to get the wifi to work. I realized I spent half the trip trying to get a connection, and when it worked, it was barely enough to load a webpage. I now use a phone hotspot. There's a weird dropout just north of Sharon, but the rest is rock-solid 4G. You are correct that the Commuter Rail wifi is, for all practical effects, nonfunctional.
 

FK4

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I used to spend quite a lot of time on the Providence line trying to get the wifi to work. I realized I spent half the trip trying to get a connection, and when it worked, it was barely enough to load a webpage. I now use a phone hotspot. There's a weird dropout just north of Sharon, but the rest is rock-solid 4G. You are correct that the Commuter Rail wifi is, for all practical effects, nonfunctional.
I do the same thing. Sounds like it’s a problem on multiple lights.

For what it’s worth, I took a commuter train from Oxford to London that also offered WiFi, that also was totally useless.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Providence is probably going to eventually glom off of Amtrak's high-bandwidth WiFi it's installing up and down the NEC. The catenary towers make a naturally great amplifier for focusing the signal, so they're able to draw out their signal strength linearly within the trackbed instead of wasting it in an all-around radius. The system they're using is specialized like that for narrow-but-linear transmission range.

The other lines...yes, something way better is needed. Although a justifiable reason for persisting this long on the take-it-or-leave-it gratis service is that the tower installations needed for broadcasting decent onboard WiFi of their own wouldn't come until Positive Train Control installation was substantially complete across the system. Now they've got those new towers erected for the PTC signals' radio spectrum and all those new telephone poles to carry the fiber cable to the towers. Once they're safely past the PTC deadline they've got a ready-made solution for mounting the WiFi transmitters that would form the basis of much more robust network than they've had to-date.
 

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