T notes: Rebranding the corporate pass as Perq
Crime down at the MBTA; Ramirez calls for investing in workers
A correction has been added to this story.
THE MBTA IS ROLLING OUT a promotional campaign to rebrand its largely anonymous corporate pass program, complete with a new name (Perq), special plastic fare cards, and lots of information extolling the benefits for employers and employees of paying commuter expenses with pretax money.
The corporate pass program allows employees to purchase almost any type of MBTA pass through their employers using pretax dollars, which can provide significant savings. T officials say revenues from corporate passes are approaching $17 million, but sales of the passes themselves have been relatively flat compared to employment growth in the area.
Evan Rowe, the T’s director of revenue, said the goal of the rebranding effort is to breathe new life into the sale of passes by giving them a distinctive brand and spelling out their benefits.
As part of that effort, the T is rolling out a new advertising campaign, a new website, and soon new cards for users to replace their existing Charlie cards. The website spells out the potential savings, encourages employees to talk to their employers about joining the program, and plugs the new cards which are designed to build a little buzz around the initiative.
Ramirez: T needs to invest in workers
MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez said he came away from a recent meeting with Green Line workers convinced the transit agency needs to invest more in employee training and workplace improvements.
Ramirez said he has no specific initiatives in mind yet, but wants the T to do a better job of listening to ideas from workers as well as their concerns. He said investments in employees could take many forms.
“It starts with more training,” he said. “It also starts with making sure their working conditions are where they should be.”
Crime down at the T
In many of the crime categories, the number of incidents is so low that a tiny drop means a huge percentage decline. For example, Green said there have been no homicides over the last three years, compared to one during the previous five years.
Even so, looking at the bigger crime categories in terms of incidents, the number of crimes is falling. Over the last three years, the number of larcenies has fallen from 475 in 2016 to 424 so far this year, an 11 percent drop. [The percentage drop for larcenies was originally reported incorrectly.] Robberies are down from 148 to 80, a 46 percent drop. And aggravated assaults, which numbered 118 in 2016 and rose to 139 in 2017, fell to 104 year-to-date in 2018, a decline of 12 percent between 2016 and 2018.
Where are the CharlieCards?
MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez said he is considering expanding access to blank CharlieCards by asking customer service representatives to hand them out in more stations.
As the T prepares to move to a cashless fare collection system, officials have been out talking to customers about where the new fare machines should be located. The officials have also been handing out plastic, rechargeable CharlieCards to customers who were paying more to buy paper cards out of the existing fare machines. What they’ve discovered is that many people end up buying the paper cards because the blank plastic cards, which are available free of charge, aren’t readily available.According to the T’s website, the plastic cards are supposed to be available at 16 T stations from customer service representatives, including the CharlieCard store at Downtown Crossing. But Ramirez said the current system is too inconvenient and needs to be expanded.
“We are getting a lot of requests and there are some stations where there isn’t a lot of access,” he said.