Downtown Crossing turnstyles all set to "SmartCard Only" (but one). It's the middle of the fucking month! Also, no prior announcment.
I attempt to fare-jump by triggering the exit-sensors, but do not succeed before a T-policeman opens the metal gate.
At Alewife, I check to see if the gates are doing the same ass-hole manouever, but they are not. That's good. Phoenixes are stacked up to the tippy brim of the Metro paper-holder -- cannot find a Metro to search for two-page spread ad, like the one T bought to announce the SmartCard distribution days.
(Another inexplicable dumbfoolery: designated distribution days. Why can't they cards be available on request? The stacks of cards were still sitting there. I saw them. Luckily, the T workers I saw were sane people and had no objection to handing out the cards they'd been given to hand out, even if between official Days.)
Anyway, am at Alewife, so I get to play the annoying game of "Will there be a bus soon, or am I better off walking?". Several weeks ago, learned that the T will pull buses off low-priority routes to serve other routes. One of the two bus routes to Arlington from Alewife is a designated "pull-from" route. (I don't recall which one... 79 or 530.)
So, I ask the station attendant which bus will be coming first of the two and whether any have been pulled. She tells me no bus is pulled and the 350 will be next and soon, but that they are running slow because of heavy traffic. I appreciate the warning, but spend some cycles hating on the fact that even combined, the buses come only about every half-hour.
I have little patience and after a few minutes, with a heartfelt "fucking T", I cease waiting. As I reach the turn, the 350 bus pulls in. This is bittersweet, as it encourages my paranoid glancing over the shoulder for late buses the next time. Overall, no cause for complaint that's the buses' fault, though.
I am walking back, cutting across the vehicle lane to get to the bus loading zone. The 350 looms closer and closer. It is not aiming for the middle zone, where 350s load. No, it has pulled all the way up to the 79 bus's loading zone (causing a frightened diagonal-correction on my part). Is the bus driver dumb, or trying to make space for another 350 behind him?
No, as the bus opens its doors, one of those T-criers jumps out and starts shouting "79! 79 bus!". Yes, the attendant lied to me about no bus having been pulled, apparently. Even though I asked specifically, because I would understand if it were.
(BTW, I feel bad for the criers. Do they just ride around like a lamer in the bus? How do they know they will be needed?)
On the bus is where I have my last experience of T stupidity. The other morning, a praiseworthy 77 bus driver explained to me how the new fareboxes deal with change. They DO, in fact, give change. However, the system is set up to only give change if the amount of change is greater than 10 cents.
I see this as a transparently ass-hat-ish manner to rip off the bus riders. The fare is 90c -- what is surely the vastly most common amount of change needed? 10c. But this is just below the threshold.
What this bus driver did not clarify is how is that change given. So today I decided to experiment. I put in an extra dime at the start when I fed my fare, in cash, to the machine. (I waited to the end of the line, so as not to delay other boarders too much.) Lo and behold I got my change back! The fare box printed me a paper ticket.
A paper ticket. Lord almighty, do I dislike those paper tickets! And even the T dislikes them --- the SmartCard is known and aknowledged to be the preferred medium, even nonwithstanding the bastardry at Downtown Crossing as evidence.
The people who designed the T's Charlie system are idiots. That's got to be.
I asked the bus driver if it is possible to have gotten my 15c change onto a SmartCard instead. "No," he doesn't think so. He even experimented for me, while stopped at a green light. (I mentioned there was heavy traffic....) If it is possible, it is well-hidden.
So, now I am left with a 15c paper ticket that cannot be combined with anything else. Nor can it be, say, stapled together with other tiny-value tickets until I have amassed a useful amount. No, because of the annoying card-eating (as opposed to card-swiping) system, the little bastard(s) must stay loose and loseable.
Maybe they set up the system to rip people off of their change because the change-giving mechanism is so slow and bad!