Automated Fare Evasion

For a system represented by the visage of a man who couldn't afford to pay his fare, the advent of the CharlieCard and AFC presents an ironic victory. For if the subject of the classic song were to board today, he would find that his inability to pay would present no obstacle to getting on and off the T as he pleased.

Nearly eight months after Automated Fare Collection appeared, it's time to examine fare evasion. The problem that the MBTA claims isn't a problem.



    Free tagging: 


    As shameful as fare evasion on the MBTA is,

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    it's understandable why there are so many people who are disillusioned enough about the T to refuse to pay the fare. Given the relative paucity of the public transportation here in Boston, and how expensive it is, it's a small wonder that people protest by refusing to pay the fare. Granted, the Green Line of the MBTA, and the MBTA system, generally, has definitely made some improvements, but there's still a long way to go before it's really up to snuff and more people are motivated to use it. I myself would be willing to pay more for better public transportation in our city, but right now, the MTBA, imo, is not up to snuff enough to be worth paying higher prices.

    of all the complaints

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    There are many valid complaints about the T, with the fare evasion being near the top of the list, but I cannot imagine that "relative paucity" is one of them. Unless you specifically mean service after 1 AM, I must think you are wrong. While service outside the city may be bad in areas, you can get from just about any place in the city to any other via public transit, something you can't say for a lot of major US cites. You can be in just about any part of the city, and if you have a decent arm, you will be able to hit a bus route, a subway line, a trolley, or you may even be run down by The Ride. Take a look at the system maps at the T's site. That's way too much ground covered to be considered insufficient, especially compared with most of the US.

    Well, the fact that there is no MBTA service after 1 a. m.

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    is an indication, certainly, and, the fact that the MBTA freqently doesn't run nearly as well at "off" hours, so to speak, and it's still quite unpredictable, to boot. That's why I either go around on foot or by bicycle whenever I can here in the city, during the day.

    Lesson to be learned in London . . .

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    I left Boston three years ago and now live in London. I am still amused by the ineptitude of the MBTA, even all the way over here.

    The MBTA should learn a few lessons in fare control from the London Underground network: on the Charlie-like system here (Oyster Card) all passengers must both touch in and touch out of the system--no more fare evasion by simply opening the gates from the inside. Fares are based on distance and your card 'remembers' where you got on, charging you appropriately.

    If you failed to touch in at the start of your trip (like what often happens on the Green Line in Boston) you get charged a maximium penalty fare upon exit. This also occurs if you get off at any above ground stop and fail to touch out--if a certain time elapses without a record of you leaving the system, you get charged the penalty as well (Note--in order for this to work, there should be touch pads at all above ground stations, and at all doors on green line trolleys. It does eliminate the need for pesky receipts though).

    Also, when you make multiple trips in a day, the system will only charge you the minimum possible amount. For instance, if you take the subway more than three times in a day, it is cheaper to have bought a day pass than to pay for the rides individually, so you will be charged only the price of the pass.

    The London system seems pretty intelligent to me. It seems like the MBTA failed to do their homework (again).

    Surprised? Not me.

    So to get the full benefits

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    So to get the full benefits of this "intelligent" London system, I would have to trade recording simply my entry point to recording where I got on and where I get off (exit fares= identity of my destination point); trade a flat-by-mode fare for distance based fares (something MBTA riders have railed AGAINST for years); all for the promise of a significant penalty if I fail (or the machine fails) to record my exit! Lets not stop there! The MBTA should have "learned" and adopted these wonderful treats too: pay and register for an OysterCard or be subjected to cash surcharge nearly 3x as much as the Oyster fare! Oh joy.

    Lastly, the blog entry above primarily focuses on fare evasion in a barrier-less light rail environment. Unfortunately you offer a suggestion that is exclusive to the Tube, a gated subway system. What you describe above does not work on London buses, so, notwithstanding all of the hefty fines and fees, why would we want it on the Green Line? Seems to me the MBTA did do their homework here. Enjoy London!