A traffic cone is a T fare evader's best friend at Back Bay

Traffic cone at Back Bay Orange Line station

I was waiting for a Forest Hills train this afternoon when a guy coming through the tunnel from Copley Place approached the bars on one side of the fare gates. He reached through the bars, grabbed the cone, maneuvered it upwards until he had it in hand, then dropped it down over one of the fare gates, which triggered the electric eye to open the gate so he could get in for free.



Free tagging: 


No, I didn't say anything

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I was alone at that end of the platform and he didn't seem like the type to appreciate having a finger sternly waved at him. After I took the photo, I did move the cone out of reach of the gate, though.

Makes you wonder...

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What's the largest thing necessary to pass through the electric eye and trigger the gates to open on these 2-way gates?

If I toss my backpack over (or even just dangle it over to not risk dropping/losing it), then is it free rides until they catch me doing it?

A ball of paper? A basketball?

What if you just taped a sheet of paper over the sensor? Does the door remain open permanently...or at least until someone removes it?


fishing rod?

I wonder if you could just dangle something over the top. I've seen several people on the T with fishing rods ... would it work?

I've seen cleaners in the

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I've seen cleaners in the station use a broom stuck between the two panels of the gate open the doors that way.

Cleaners and fare evasion

I see the cleaners do this ALL the time. Why doesn't the MBTA give contracted workers passes?! It is absurd! It doesn't send the right message at all when employees are showing everyone how to cheat the system.

If only we had a functional court system

Then the MBTA would not resort to suspending driver's licenses when somebody won't pay fare evasion fines. You think there might be people using the T because they don't drive?

People may have noticed lack of enforcement on J-walking. Its a $1 civil citation requiring a court appearance to pay. Habitual offenders have fines doubled to $2. Failure to appear can result in a bench warrant. No impact on the driver's license for walking badly, however.

Fare evasion used to require a court appearance

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as well. But some time back, the "progressive" MBTA management convinced the Legislature to change the law so that the T cops and CSAs now can just write a simple ticket.

As for the "driver's license suspension for failure to pay transit system fines" nonsense, I'm still waiting for the day for somebody to challange the legality of that in court. Last I checked, fare evasion is not a motor vehicle offense.

The other day I saw someone

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The other day I saw someone at Alewife do this with a sweater. He had it over his shoulder and he casually flipped the sweater over the gate, activated the sensor, and kept walking through. It certainly looked like something he had done before.

Old trick

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Variants of this trick work on a lot of locked doors - double doors that are electronically locked from the outside with a keypad or card tap or similar are particularly vulnerable. Sticking a flyswatter or newspaper through the gap between the doors often works pretty well.

This is a famous video of MUNI

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Their gate system was so poorly designed that you could get through by waving your hands and barely straining.

Really, fare gates are just welfare for contractors. They cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and install. And then they must be maintained and watched over. And they are still easily defeatable. For some reason, Americans just can't get their head around the fact that having the transit agency spend a significant fraction of their revenue on fare collection is a total waste. Instead it usually boils down to completely pointless morality plays. Some people would rather see the agency spend $10 in operating costs to catch $2 worth of fare evader, rather than accepting that no system is perfect.

Proof-of-payment is the most cost-effective way to collect fares. It's also the least obtrusive, the most ADA accessible, and the most efficient in terms of passenger flow. It's performance can be measured and it's parameters adjusted in order to suit policy and revenue needs.

If the T was viewed as an actual TRANSPORTATION system instead of a vehicle for contractor kickbacks, union welfare, and strange morality plays involving riders ... then the management would be thinking about the most efficient way of transporting riders, and that includes the flow of passengers walking through the entrances and egresses of the system, as well as connecting between routes.

Maybe. Maybe not.

When I used the Dallas system they had proof of payment AKA honor based payments. A cop did inspect my ticket on the first and only time I used the train. I was a bit nervous I had purchased the wrong ticket but she was nice and confirmed that I was in the clear and I was on the right train. One of the advantages is there are more police on the trains which can prevent other problems or just give info.

When I was in Germany I didn't pay several times, often because I couldn't find a working machine or I had forgotten to get my card stamped. Never saw a cop. I knew several poor students who wouldn't pay as the risk of being caught (25 euros?) wasn't enough of a deterrent.

All the major east coast cities have fare gates and I've always paid.

For it to work in Boston they would need a lot of police and the fines would need to be very high -- $200+. It would help if they would pull you off the train and delay you for 30-45 minutes while they take down info. I think the added cost of staffing would be higher than lost fares due to cheaters.


"[Proof of payment is] also

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"[Proof of payment is] also the least obtrusive,"

Depends on the attitude of the inspectors.

If they're angrily barking orders, as they do on some U.S. transit systems, I would find it rather unpleasant.


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The MBTA has swat teams, motorcycles, bicycle cops, fancy cruisers, Police busses, bomb teams, dog officers , detectives. Someday they will get around to putting cops in train stations.


They're busy securing the sidewalk above Park St.

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It's always amazing to go to NYC or LA and see cops riding the train as a routine thing.

Or, in the case of LA, doing proof-of-payment sweeps + warrant checks on fare evaders. The train operators close the doors the second the sheriffs get on so no one can avoid having their card verified. The process is so fast, they can often check an entire car before it reaches the next station. You just hold out your fare card and a deputy taps their handheld reader against it as they walk by.

Checking everyone is also a great way to ensure that nobody gets profiled. The only people who get special attention are the ones who fail the POP check.

Even if you make it off a train without being checked, you might still get caught, as they tend to place half a dozen or more sheriffs at the top of an escalator, just out of sight so you don't see them until it's too late.

Fare evaders get a $250 ticket and those with outstanding warrants leave in handcuffs. I've seen the latter more times than I can count.



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You'd think after all the assaults, both on passengers (sexual ones) and on drivers, the T police would be riding the trains and buses more, even if they are in full kit. Just to deter crime.

I also agree that the fine should be much higher for fare evasion. The fine now is so piddly people don't care enough. Hit'em in their wallet, as I say, and they will learn.

Oh well, I guess we can't have it all..

It's really NOT a routine

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It's really NOT a routine thing in NYC. It's more frequent than on the MTA, but I think cops often ride the subway to get somewhere, not so much to be on patrol.

Now that the MTA has eliminated staffed turnstiles at some of its stations, fare evasion is rampant. What can you do about it? There's no one there to stop them, so these kids wait until the train pulls in, hop the turnstile, and run on the train.

Not enough bodies

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They routinely have officers up at the main fare gate upstairs. Theses gates are in the tunnel from Copley Place. I suspect it would cost way more to police every set of fare gates that the amount of fare evasion.

The alternative would be to not have fare gates there at all (exit only) which I believe was the case before Charlie. So lots of people would lose the convenience (and ability to just make the train) for a few fare evaders.

I know this location - it is

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I know this location - it is notorious for fare evasion because there are few people at that end of the platform and there is not an inspector's booth at that end. It's an open secret that's how you get on for free. Instead of having 4 cops talking to each other at the gates above they should have at least one on the platform below.


Agreed - I see people toss

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Agreed - I see people toss jackets and whatnot over the gate here ALL THE TIME to avoid paying.

Time to put a T worker down there full-time to catch them.

Or perhaps

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place one or two uniformed officers at the faregate to deter them from trying to evade the fare in the first place.

Cut off your nose?

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To spite your face?

Tell me, do you think there are more than 50 fare evaders per hour here?

I don't have the exact wage info at hand but I think it's easily more than $75/hour altogether to pay an employee to stand there and watch the gates. Average fare is between $1 and $1.50. So if you were to post someone there, they would have to prevent something like 50 people per hour from evading fares.

Or maybe you don't actually care about the value proposition? You don't care if the T loses money on it. You just want to stage another farcical morality play.


Except that

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you now have police officers in the stations. So they can respond immediately to reports of other crimes, medical emergencies, and the like. And by getting those same officers out of their cruisers and off their motorcycles, you save fuel and maintenance costs on those vehicles as well.


Fare Evasion at Back Bay Station.

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Often times when I get out of work in Copley Square late at night the fare gate on the platform is disabled and wide open. I once saw some dude in a valet jacket climb over the gate and walk into the tunnel and disengage the fare gate. I wonder how he got the key. I've had a couple of people [ a guy and a girl at different instances ] beg me to help them get through the fare gate, but I refused. They finally got through without my help and then proceeded to harass me over it the whole train ride to Forest Hills.