Riders on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail lines may be in for some hassles in the days ahead as random daily ticket checks continue. The random checks, which began yesterday, are meant to cut back on the millions of dollars the MBTA loses each year due to evasion of fares. They’re calling the initiative “Fare is Fair.”
In the past, random ticket checks took place about six to eight times per year on commuter rail lines. In the future, the agency and its commuter rail partner Keolis plan to install ticket-checking gates at each major stop. For now, the MBTA and Keolis are deploying “ticket verification agents” on a daily basis, beginning at the busiest stations. Their job, as you might guess, is to ensure that each rider has an activated ticket before they board the train.
Commuter rail trains are often so crowded that conductors don’t have time to check all the tickets in time. Fares can be paid in cash, by phone app, or via a pre-purchased ticket which still must be punched.
That said, Keolis plans to roll out the ticket checks during off-peak hours at major stations. As passengers become familiar with the process, the checks will move to outlying stations and peak hours. Keolis says that passengers are not expected to be unduly inconvenienced, and that trains will not be held in order to complete the ticket checks.
Further details about which stops will be affected, along with an anticipated changeover to ticket scanners, will be released at a later date.
Interestingly, a Keolis survey found that only two-thirds of commuter passengers said their fares were collected all the time.
Tickets for fare evasion start at $100, can get your license suspended
If you ride commuter rail, you may have legal questions about fare evasion. According to the MBTA transit police, the offense is defined simply as “using public transportation without paying for the service.” If you are stopped, you will be asked for identification and could receive a non-criminal citation. The fines are:
- $100 for a first offense
- $200 for a second offense
- $600 for a third or subsequent offense
Additionally, if you fail to pay those fines, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will be notified and your license will be suspended.
Always be prepared to pay your transit fare so there are no misunderstandings with the transit police.