Monday, May 21, 2007

Metro & the Morning Commute

Like many fellow Boston subway riders, during my morning commute I read the Metro, our local freebie rag that is often compared to "mental twinkies". Meh, it's free and it passes the time. But today two things caught my attention.

First was this picture of Barry Bonds. (thanks to Metro and AP) I saw it and the first thought that came to mind was: "He's taken so many steroids even his tongue muscle has gotten freakishly huge!"
Yeah, I really don't like Barry Bonds. Not one bit. I don't really begrudge him the steroids so much as the blatant dishonesty about it. And the apparent greed in trashing Hank Aaron's great homer count for Barry's own personal glory.

I also really hate Barry for what he's doing to Giants' fans. Well, at least one Giants fan, of my best friends...who's a San Francisco native living in Boston. And this season he can't just pop a brew and enjoy a damn Giants game because everything is about Barry Bonds. It's like the rest of the team doesn't exist. That's not fair to the fans, Barry. Screw you.

I suppose this touches on a long-held theory of mine that I believe players should be completely indebted to the fans. Because it's the fans that pay for outrageously overpriced tickets, concessions, playbooks and jerseys. Those sales ultimately pay for athletes' salaries, so don't give me "I'm not a role model" bullcrap. You can't sell part of your soul, folks, you gotta sell it all.

But I digress...

The other thing was "Ask the (insert government official here)" column with Dan Grabauskas, General Manager of the MBTA. Dan was appointed after creating a reputation as a "cleanup man" after his success at the Massachusettes Motor Vehicle Registry. If his goal was to "clean up" the MBTA, he's failed miserably...things are worse now than when Grabauskas started in 2005, and the recent reports of state transportation's fiscal health indicate it's gonna get a lot worse in the future.

One of the Q&A questions was about fare evasion on the Green Line...I'll quote the relevant part so you don't have to open the PDF...

QUESTION: What is being done about fare evasion on the Green Line? I’m sick of paying $60 a month for my pass, and watching kids and adults alike board the back doors, laughing how easy it is not to pay. What happened to “proof of payment,” and why is it never enforced?
(name omitted, 23, Brookline)

ANSWER: The Green Line fare collection system is working. While we do have some peak loading problems, we are addressing them with staffing or other measures.
(emphasis added by me)

Don't tell someone that that a pig is a swan when it's oinking and dripping mud on your carpet. The fare collection system on the Green Line is completely a farce and every regular rider knows it. After three fare hikes in six years, it's reasonable to expect that people who pay their fair share are gonna be mad when anyone does not.

Even if the system really worked, the perception is that it's a farce...and that's just as bad.

Thinking more broadly, this is why I don't really care for these kind of "Ask your elected official" columns. The Metro has had the "Ask the Mayor" column for a little while now with Boston Mayor Tom Menino and it's equally useless and arrogant-sounding. People are essentially writing in with a complaint and the Mayor's never going to be in a position where he can say "You know, you're right! We really f**ked that one up, and I'm going to fire the jerks responsible, and hire some actual real workers who aren't patronage appointments!" because no elected official can ever actually say that. Even if Menino could actually do that, he probably wouldn't say it.

Really all we'll ever get out of these columns is arrogant-sounding dismissals that there's not really a problem, but we're working hard to fix it (in vague, unspecified terms). That doesn't benefit the questioners, the readers or the elected officials. So why do these columns continue?!?!?

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