MBTA photography process

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MBTA photography process

Postby pdxstreetcar » Sat Jan 08, 2005 7:10 pm

I am planning to go to Boston soon to take photos of the Silver Line Tunnel and after being questioned for photographing a trackless trolley on city streets I figured I better get a permit for photography on T property. Has anyone managed to take pictures of the Silver Line subway stations without a permit?

Destination: Freedom describes the lengthy process:
http://www.nationalcorridors.org/df/df0 ... #Following

Do I really have to...
-email press department
-wait 2 weeks for a photo pass request form by email
-send in form and wait about a week for a background check
-receive a phone call from Marketing Dept. telling of approval and where to pick up photo pass
-go to marketing department HQ and present official ID and SS cards (including going thru airport-style security)

And the pass is only good for 30 days??

It appears that this process takes about a month. Wow.
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Postby Diverging Route » Sat Jan 08, 2005 8:27 pm

It's all true, with on exception.

My experience is that they don't call you. After the appropriate waiting time, you should call the MBTA Marketing Department and ask if your permit is ready. When they say "yes," you can go pick it up.
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Postby CSX Conductor » Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:12 pm

I have never had any problem both on and off the MBTA property.

Most of the newest section of the Silver Line by the World Trade Center is on the street, so if anybody asks you can say you were taking shots of something else if you want.

http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo=2004123101061023672.jpg&byrail%3A4%3AMBTA
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Postby jwhite07 » Sun Jan 09, 2005 9:29 am

If you are not on MBTA property, you are free to take pictures of whatever MBTA activities you darn well like, photo permit or no, and no amount of yelling and threatening is going to change your rights.
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Postby RailBus63 » Sun Jan 09, 2005 2:02 pm

I went though this last month and it took a little over two weeks. First, call Carol Timberlake at the MBTA's marketing department. She is very friendly, and e-mailed the application to me within an hour of my phone call. It is a Microsoft Word application, and the MBTA insists that you must return it electronically, so you can either complete it using Word, or you can print it, complete it by hand, scan it and return the scanned document to the T. Two days after I did this, I received a phone call at home from an MBTA Police detective who verified some personal information, and advised that I should be hearing back from the folks in Marketing within a week. After a week or so passed and I didn't hear back from anyone, I called Carol again and left a message. She called back within 30 minutes or so and advised that my permit was ready, and that I would need to bring in my driver's license and a second photo ID (I used a college ID card). I went in a few days after Christmas, and after they took photocopies of my ID cards, I had my photo permit. The only bad part about it is that the permit is only good for one month, so I'll need to go through another round of phone calls to renew it (but presumable not another police inquiry into my records).

Based on over 25 years experience photographing MBTA trains and buses, I stongly encourage any fan to go through the process to get the photo permit. The MBTA has always had the highest proportion of operators and supervisors who don't like railfan photographers of any system I've visited, and you will be challenged. That little yellow card is like gold - when the inevitable visit from an inspector comes (and they never ask what you're doing - it always begins with "Hey! You can't take pictures here ...'), I just tell them "I have a permit from Park Plaza' and pull out the card. There's never a problem after that. If you're visiting Boston from out of town, you now have access to every station and public platform on the system. Trust me - it's much, much better than guerilla railfan photography.

Jim
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Postby hebron_hapt » Sun Jan 09, 2005 3:13 pm

Aside from being in the subway, there are enough places to take pictures of MBTA trains, buses, whatever to not have to go through this hokey, make-work process. And even in the subway, take a quick shot and put away your camera. I've done it plenty of times in Boston, Philly, NYC, and havew never been challenged. Now if someone blatently sets up a tripod and stands there for a while, of course they'll be challenged. Street smarts exist for photographers too, y'know...
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Postby RailBus63 » Tue Jan 11, 2005 11:30 am

Photography on the outdoor stops along the Green Line and commuter rail is generally not a problem. If an out-of-town fan is planning to take photos in the subway or at rapid transit stations, though, I highly recommend taking the time to get the permit. Yes, you probably can get away with some photography in the subways, but why risk having your trip ruined by an encounter with a hard-line inspector. Make a few calls, get the permit, and go where you want to go.

hebron_hapt wrote:Now if someone blatently sets up a tripod and stands there for a while, of course they'll be challenged.


They'd definitely be challenged, since tripods are not allowed in Boston, NYC and elsewhere for safety reasons.

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Postby CRail » Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:04 pm

I agree that carol is very nice, but there is no way im going through all that, they still give you crap anyway. I used to get them when you could just go pick one up at park plaza. Just go take pictures and if anyone asks your a tourist who was interested in the city and wanted a few shots of the subway system. There is no posted rule saying you cant take pictures so when confronted do what I do, play stupid.
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Postby pdxstreetcar » Tue Jan 11, 2005 7:39 pm

David Telesha wrote:
Corey is absolutely right - no postings = no prohibition = no right to bother me.


exactly plus I searched on their website for info on their photo policy and found absolutely nothing.
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Postby efin98 » Tue Jan 11, 2005 8:29 pm

pdxstreetcar wrote:
David Telesha wrote:
Corey is absolutely right - no postings = no prohibition = no right to bother me.


exactly plus I searched on their website for info on their photo policy and found absolutely nothing.


That doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The T isn't required to say there is a ban, just because it doesn't say online nor in stations doesn't mean it exists. And ignorance MAY NOT cut it when challenged, you might get the benefit of the doubt but you should not be surprised one bit if you are asked to cease and desist in photography and videography on T property.
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Postby efin98 » Tue Jan 11, 2005 9:27 pm

David Telesha wrote:Amtrak has rights into South Station, and they have no photography policy - in fact, in a e-mail reponse I received once, they have no problem with ticketed passengers taking pictures from platforms.


Try telling that to an MBTA officer as you are ticketed for violating the rules... it's the T's station and the T's rules, Amtrak is simply a tennant and their travelers follow the same rules as anybody else.

MBTA may own it, but I should be treated according to Amtrak's policy as an Amtrak rider - I paid them to get there not the T.


Too bad. Owner's rules, you have to comply with them whether you agree with them or not. Don't like that? Don't use the station. Get on and off in Providence and take a bus!

But if the T wants to inforce a policy, they must post it.


They don't have to.
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Postby njt/mnrrbuff » Tue Jan 11, 2005 9:45 pm

Remember, terminals like South Station and D.c., going on the platform to take pictures is a big no no unless if you have a ticket.
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Postby Ron Newman » Tue Jan 11, 2005 10:17 pm

South Station's not like DC. You can pretty much wander up and down any platform you want, ticket or no ticket. The only exception being platforms currently occupied by reserved-seat Amtrak trains that are boarding.
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Postby Diverging Route » Tue Jan 11, 2005 10:49 pm

It was very ironic last fall when an MBTA employee gave me grief for taking a picture of an Amtrak train at South Station. I showed him a copy of the Amtrak promotion inviting people to take pictures for their 2005 calendar! He was speechless...

And of course there is "tight security" at South Station requiring one to have an Amtrak ticket to enter a platform occupied by an Amtrak train. But at Back Bay and Route 128, there is no such restriction.
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Postby Ken W2KB » Wed Jan 12, 2005 10:18 am

The MBTA is not a 'company' in the ordinary sense. It is a state government entity, and I strongly suspect (someone with specific info please correct me if I am wrong) that as a government entity, it has duly adopted under Massachusetts law a set of regulations in its quasi-legislative capacity as a government entity. Regulations are held by the courts to have the full force and effect of laws. So if properly adopted photography regulations are in effect, those are the law of Massachusetts unless and until rescinded or struck down by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Moveover, with respect to posting, it is a long-standing legal principle that "every citizen is presumed to know the law." In layman's terms, ignorance of the law is no excuse. The "T" need not post photography prohibitions contained in its published (paper) regulations any more than a grocery store must post a sign stating that armed robbery of the store is against the law.
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