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Keolis looks at a 'ring of steel' to crack down on commuter-rail fare evaders

The Herald reports Keolis estimates the T loses $35 million a year in unpaid commuter-rail fares and wants to spend $10 million on new gates at North, South and Back Bay stations. No word on how much is lost on overcrowded trains that conductors can't get through to check tickets.

The T itself, meanwhile, wants to hire private contractors to make sure people don't sneak on the back of Green Line trolleys.

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Comments

$5.75 each way from Roslindale to South Station is a rip off. Occasionally not having the conductor take my ticket helps bring the value equation into balance.

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Instead of ponying up the $5.75, take the bus from Roslindale to Forest Hills, then hop the Orange Line to Downtown Crossing. If you want to get exactly to South Station, it is one stop away on the Red Line. The cost is only $2.10 using a Charlie Card.

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That is not their point.

The point is that the ppl in Rozzie are getting screwed. We are about 5.5 miles from BB and get charged 5.75 where as the end of the line ppl pay only $6.25.

If you have a combo pass you can ride to FH from SS for free. But if you go 1 stop to RV they charge you $5.75.

Not very equitable.

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Yes, the Commuter Rail is too expensive. Except that it's too cheap in Zone 1A, which makes the difference between 1A and 1 stand out even more.

But I'd disagree with you that the fare to Needham Heights is too cheap.

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You haven't bought a T pass in a while.

If you buy a Zone 1A pass, you are paying the same to take the commuter rail from Forest Hills to Back Bay that you would pay to take the Orange Line. If you buy a link pass, you have to pay the $2.10 to take the commuter rail in from Forest Hills. Trust me, it's the reason I've abandoned the commuter rail from Forest Hills.

My point is that those people who do not want to take the bus from Roslindale are paying a premium for the nicer, quicker ride. And since they are paying for premium service compared to bus and train, they should pay more. And if anon thinks its cool not to pay his/her fare, they are a part of a $30 million problem. Just think about how much better the commuter rail could be with an extra $30 million to invest in the service.

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I use a 7 day link pass, and board the commuter rail at forest hills 5 times a week without paying any extra fare

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Yes, a 7-day Link Pass is good in Zone 1A.

A monthly Link Pass officially is not valid in Zone 1A. A monthly Zone 1A pass is, and it costs the same as a Link Pass. The difference is that the machines won't let you put a Zone 1A pass on a CharlieCard, since it has to be readable by the conductor on a CharlieTicket.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect most conductors would let you ride with a Link Pass if it's on a CharlieTicket.

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You can just get the Zone 1A pass on a charlie card - you get a new Charlie Card every month, but it works for subway, bus, and Zone 1A commuter rail as it has the CR pass printed on its back. Probably a year or two ago they implemented this for corporate customers (i.e. wage works/etc) as a pilot, but, I believe it is available now to the general public.

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Maybe it's available by mail order. But the machines certainly won't let you put a Zone 1A pass on a CharlieCard. Which makes sense, since they have no way of printing a visually-readable pass on a CharlieCard.

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Right: mail-order commuter rail passes come as CharlieCards. Cards designed to be trashed every 30 or so days.

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I'm not saying I am not willing to pay my fare or even a slightly higher fare for use of the CR. That is your assumption. My issue is only paying 0.50 less than the end of the line ppl or $5.75 for 2 stops is a tad ridiculous.

I've been on the T every day of my life - minimum 5 days a week since I was 10 years old. I'm 45 years old. Green line, Red Line, Orange line, buses and CR. I think I know a little bit about the T (not the blue line though!) and how service has not improved with the fare increases.

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Except West Roxbury and Roslindale are actually part of the City of Boston, and the Orange Line was supposed to be extended down that ROW. Given its the only rail connection in either neighborhood, it should be a subway price. Taking the bus from Rozzie Square isn't really that bad, but it adds a considerable amount of time vs taking the CR at Bellevue, Highland, or West Roxbury.

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Here's a hint- it's not the City of Boston.

Perhaps some of our posters who live equidistant to the terminal yet not in Boston can explain the pricing system since I am tired of it.

All I'm saying is this- if the commuter rail service isn't worth $5.75 each way, as the anon claims, stop using it. Don't freeload.

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In general...

First, you need to remove any association between the commuter rail and the subway system. They are two different animals with different costs associated with operating them.

The subway system is based on a rider entering the system and remaining within. For the most part you can ride within the system as long as you never leave it and change trains to get all over the place. Only a handful of stations do not offer a free return trip or change of direction. For example, Copley on the Green and Wonderland on the Blue.

In days gone by (this is where the Kingston Trio chimes in) you actually had to pay a fare to get on and another to get off in some locations. The Red line to Quincy actually started that way where you would pay an exit fare if you rode from Boston. After a period of time the system was standardized.

Commuter rail trains are a different animal and they are based on mileage blocks. As such it may be possible to ride north of the city and through a couple of small townships for a specific fare. However when traveling south through Boston, and considering that Boston has an odd shape that extends southerly and westerly from the center, you move more miles within the city. Under a mileage based system it is then possible to pay more per mile but still be inside the city boundaries.

The reduced fare people are paying on the Fairmount line is an EXPERIMENT. This is to try to get more people to use it at a TEMPORARY reduced rate.

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Just looking at the distances traveled from Forest Hills. The WR stop is about 3 miles from Forest Hills. Those people and the people getting off before them are paying $3.65 for 3 miles (or less if they get off at one of the previous stops). The people who ride to the end of the line are paying $4.15 for 8.5 miles. So WR costs you more than a buck a mile but Needham is less than half a buck a mile. Doesn't seem equitable to me at all.

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And spend twice as long getting to your destination. I take it from Highland to South Station. It's 20 minutes versus an hour.

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I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing the faster service is exactly what you're paying more for.

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"faster" is all relative when it comes to the T. Sometimes my CR ride can be 30-40 minutes b/c it seems to go at a snails pace before FH or stops at some point in the Arbs. It's supposed to be 19 minutes. Or it shows up 10-15 minutes late or comes early and doesn't wait and leaves.

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Highland is out there, at least. People who gripe while on the platform at Roslindale Square have zero sympathy from me.

Either save your time or save your money. But this anon chose to save time and is now happy to be freeloading when he/she can.

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Whose time is only worth about $6 an hour?

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Get rid of the useless Needham line and just extend the blasted orange line.... (But we've drifted from the main topic at hand...)

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Extend Orange to Needham? Bwahahahahaha !!!! :-)))

History lesson... When the Southwest Corridor was built in the 80s, that trench that the Orange Line and commuter trains run in through JP and Roxbury, the plan was to extend it to, or near Needham.

Everyone south of Forest Hills screamed they didn't want it. That included Roslindale, West Roxbury and Needham.

Lots of veiled comments but it was a clear case of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

It seemed like a great idea at the time. Didn't happen.

Now rail and transit standards have changed. You would have to raise almost every bridge and widen many to create such an extension, and once you get to Needham you have buildings that actually back up to the SINGLE railroad track.

You must have two tracks for subway lines to run independently in each direction. FRA regulations require this. So to put back the second track you are now into rebuilding almost every bridge from the ground up, taking land by eminent domain, and shuttering the line for several years for construction.

Let's all say it together... Another Big Dig.

While we are at it, it's never getting extended to Roslindale Station either.

There is no money for any of this.

Look how long it is taking them to raise the East Street Bridge which will, by the way, require a shuttering or slowing of that line during construction and a re-grade of the track bed for about a half mile to mile on either side to compensate for the 3-4 feet it will be raised.

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I'm no civil engineer, but based on what I've seen of the Needham line from Forest Hills out to Millennium Park, all the bridges and the right of way already seem to be wide enough to allow for double tracking (any actual civil engineers, please tell me I'm wrong). So no need for eminent domain and, possibly, no need for bridge work, at least not related to the trains themselves (the Lagrange Street bridge is supposed to be getting some work to keep trucks from plowing into it).

Given that the T may yet cancel the Green Line extension (itself on a former rail line), I'm not holding my breath waiting for an Orange Line extension, but let's not get carried away with the Big Dig comparisons.

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And like yourself, I am no engineer. The only issue is when the railroad is going over a street, in which case a new bridge would be needed.

That said, you do need space for those pesky stations, and the dream of some for the T to decide to just go to Roslindale Square is more of an engineering nightmare than they think (you'd need 2 more tracks for that.)

But yeah, let's not hold our breath while Somerville is looking for some new train stations and we ask for these to be upgraded.

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Do it first on subway/Green Line, then buses (all door boarding!), then commuter rail.

For transit, speeds up GL and bus boarding, and on subway stations, it allows for a way to defeat the faregate tailgaters. Won't be as much of a point to tailgating if you can be stopped when you get off the train, or even on the train, for not having proof of fare.

Commuter rail is harder with the zones, but it sounds like a tap on-tap off system is really needed to enforce zone fares. At best this "ring of steel" buys the train crews the first few stops before they have to start checking to make sure someone's not riding to Providence on a zone 1 or 1A ticket.

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I'm curious as what the fare evader % is on Metro North & NJ Transit for NYC. If it's significantly lower, maybe we need to learn what they do. Personally, I don't understand why we can't have people download an app & enter their seat number on the train or scan a QR code for the seat they're sitting in and conductors would have tablets with green dots showing who's paid. They can then focus on the other travelers. And for those that say they could purchase a cheaper zone fare, the tablets would know when each zone is entered and eliminate the green dot from that seat. Not perfect, but it seems it would be fairly inexpensive to set-up.

Step 2 of MBTA overhaul should be the funding issue. Apparently many surrounding cities of Boston with commuter line access pay very little to the MBTA. And while these customers do have high monthly high fares...they use the system the most! Commuter rail trains are EXTREMELY expensive to operate (much more than subway & bus), plus many of these riders then need the subway to get around the city!

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I ride NJTransit frequently.

If youre coming in and out of NYC you get checked.

If youre riding suburb to suburb you probably are holding the same ticket you bought in '09. The 20 staff members on the train vanish past Newark.

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20?!! Here you're lucky if you have 1 Conductor and 2 Assistant Conductors

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Many NJT trains are 10 car double deckers

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Since 35 of the 42 million dollars of theft is on the commuter rail, it makes the most sense to start with enforcement there. Why not use the same system as the buses, the train doesnt leave until all have paid and boarded through the door with a conductor to collect fares? Its not like those of us who travel by bus like how long that takes, are commuter railers that much more important?
Having all passengers (except those that need the low floor on buses ) exit from the rear door would make boarding on the green line and buses from the front door a lot faster.

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Since 35 of the 42 million dollars of theft is on the commuter rail, it makes the most sense to start with enforcement there.

I believe this number is skewed. I honestly don't think the T has any idea how much fare evasion is costing people. There's no way they could accurately count who's evading fares and who is not. It takes someone to check every single ticket to verify the number.. something we all know isn't be done in the first place.

Again move to PoP and this problem goes away...

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The CommonWealth article says the $35 million figure came from extrapolation of a survey where they asked passengers how often they evade the fare.

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The CommonWealth article says the $35 million figure came from extrapolation of a survey where they asked passengers how often they evade the fare.

Right, and a survey is a good enough reason to warrant all these changes.

Because you know, when I'm being asked about doing something illegal, I'm going to be honest with a survey. right. (not)

Just proves my point even further.. the MBTA has no idea (for real) how much this is cost them and their numbers could be deflated or inflated. Who knows?

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Because you know, when I'm being asked about doing something illegal, I'm going to be honest with a survey. right. (not)

So IOW, the losses extrapolated from the survey are an underestimate.

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Or maybe angry monthly passholders say they beat the fare when they actually don't, because they want the T to crack down on all the other people they think are riding for free.

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1. Many rush hour (when the most problems with fare collection occur) trains can load/unload 50-200 people at busier stops (and likely many more on some trains at stops like Sharon, Mansfield, Framingham, Natick, etc). Your dwell times at stations will skyrocket if you force everyone thru just a couple doors. Not to mention you'd have to lock the doors (safety violation) outbound or riders will just open their own doors to get off faster and without paying).

2. Most likely most of the problems occur on just a couple lines..the ones that are critically overcrowded. That's why I'm sure Providence and Worcester have lots of issues with this. My experience on Lowell and Haverhill is actually that it's exceedingly rare to not be checked - but then those lines generally have enough capacity.

3. The "Ring of Steel" still doesn't address the issue of over-riding their zone. All you'll need is a Zone 1A ticket to get on the train downtown - still need crews checking quickly to make sure people have fares at least somewhat close to their zone.

To answer the last problem, you need to have a tag-on tag-off system which would require either readers at every station or on every car.

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Set it up like the street level stops in Istanbul. Save for Budapest and some other tram systems where you validate on board, this was the fastest way to board, *and* it helps limit fare evaders by having cameras on anyone who goes around the fence or hops the turnstile. The green line's "strategy" of herding everyone through one door costs commuters more in time than it saves in fares.

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Because there is so much extra space on Comm Ave to install something like that.

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I don't see you offering any innovative solutions, anon.

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How do people make their way onto the platform? And you don't think a turnstile could be placed where people normally walk?

Geez, you certainly qualify to be a planner at the MBTA with that innovative mindset. That's basically the MBTA's "fix" for things, to add 10-15 minute to everyone's commute just to save a few fares, never mind the huge opportunity cost it creates for anyone living toward the end of the line.

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There is plenty of room on Comm Ave. Including parking cars have up to 9 lanes on Comm Ave. That is ridiculous for a super highway, let alone in a city.

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They're already planning to implement a new fare collection system everywhere within the next couple years that allows for distance/zone-based fares with tap-on/tap-off (or auto tap-off) charging like in London. Apparently these readers are a fraction of the cost of the existing ones, also making it more feasible to put them at all doors. The current ones supposedly cost upwards of $50,000, which prevented them from being installed at all doors.

http://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/t-eager-to-shift-to-cashl...

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The T itself, meanwhile, wants to hire private contractors to make sure people don't sneak on the back of Green Line trolleys.

Let's hire contractors for jobs the T should have been doing all along. How about transit police RIDE THE TRAINS and do this?

Why do we need contractors to do this?

I'd love to know what cost analysis is on justifying such expense. If a person is making 50k a year, that means they would have to collect 18,868 fares a year to make one position worthwhile. How is this saving money? There's no way ONE position could collect all those fares. And you wanna have multiple positions doing this? (Edit: to further do some math, this means that same person would need to catch 8.98 fare evaders an hour to break even)

Besides, unless these people are also Transit Police, little can be done. They will have no authority to arrest or detain people. People will just bolt when they are caught or be like "FU" and keep on walking. Much like what happens today when drivers stop people for not paying..

This is nothing more than Baker's round about way to privatize certain jobs on the T without union busting. When in reality, it's just going to cost them MORE money in the long run.

Just move to g-d PoP. Problem Solved. Focus on spot checking people throughout the system instead.

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If a person is making 50k a year, that means they would have to collect 18,868 fares a year to make one position worthwhile.

Big "if", there. They used the magic word, "contractors". In English that's "minimum wage workers with no benefits". IOW really motivated people. Problem solved!

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Yeah but to me, contractors = big money. Yeah the actual person may make 10/hr but the bill rate to the state from the agency can be 10 times that amount. (where's the cost savings)

Because do you think someone making 10/hr is gonna give a crap to collect 2.65? Probably not. (think of mall cops for an example of how people don't give a crap at their jobs because of low pay)

Even still.. 10/hr = ~20k/year (which is abysmal).. that would mean that person STILL would have to collect 7,457 fares a year or 6.98 fares an hour to break even.

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Yeah but to me, contractors = big money.

Not in real life, they don't. Google 'taskrabbit'.

Because do you think someone making 10/hr is gonna give a crap to collect 2.65?

Maybe we can all stop repeating the obvious to each other.

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I don't know what kind of work you do but I deal with contractors all day long. I know how high their bill rates are, and what agencies charge on top of that. It's big money. The worker may not get the money, but the agency is.

I just interviewed someone for a position. Agency will pay him 15/hr. We get charged 50/hr. Big money.

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I don't know what kind of work you do but I deal with contractors all day long. I know how high their bill rates are, and what agencies charge on top of that. It's big money.

Yes, I know what you're talking about. What you don't seem to realize is that the word "contractor" is used nowadays not just to refer to expensive talent, but also to refer to less-than-minimum-wage job workers. Again, google TaskRabbit.

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That's a service. Not really a contractor. Yeah small potatoes errands. But I think Baker is talking about big contracts with agencies that will charge a 200-400% mark up on what their hourly rate is (i.e. Worker makes 15/hr, agency bills at 50/hr).

No agency in the right mind would place people if they weren't going to make bank. Not for less than 3x the amount the worker gets (i.e. 15/hr = 45/hr billable). Even temps have a billable rate a large mark up. That's why there's so many agencies out there who offer such services, the mark up is ridiculous because they are making bank from it.

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That's a service. Not really a contractor.

So you' define what's "really a contractor"? I'm guessing that your experience with "contractors" is limited to old-school placement and temp agencies and recruiters. You might be interested to learn how things have changed in the past thirty years. But whatever, you go ahead and believe whatever you want about "real contractors", and tell yourself that that's who Keolis is talking about.

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No you aren't getting it. I am well aware of the differences between an agency and 'private contractors'.

Keolis, or any state agency for that matter isn't going to put up an ad on craigs list and say "10/hr to catch fare evaders" and do all the sourcing themselves.

No, they are going to contract with an agency and let the agency do the recruitment, vetting and hiring for such positions. And of course, with large payouts for the agency for such services. It will not happen any other way.

1099/1098 employees or 'private contractors' or however you want to spin it (in your definition) is a very gray area. And considering how Uber just got butt spanked for having their drivers under this method, I doubt the Keolis/MBTA/State will do it any other way than thru an agency.

Clue in on how the state does its hiring for any contract positions, it's *always* via an agency.. hell even the MBTA's own hiring (for drivers, etc) is done via an agency, and not by the MBTA themselves.

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No, it can mean lots of things.

Keolis conductors are contractors. So are some people who do a lot of stuff for the T besides the actual driving of buses and trains.

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When did they become contractors? The conductors weren't contractors pre-Keolis.

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Technically they always have been contractors. Keolis operates the commuter rail UNDER CONTRACT FOR the MBTA. Thus they are a contractor.

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You think employing all TPD to do fare checking would be more cost effective than using contractors? Salary is a little higher than the hypothetical 50k a year example. They do ride the trains BTW, just usually focusing on public safety issues rather than fare evasion. Point of entry policing is also conducted and results in a fair number of warrant arrests.

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You think employing all TPD to do fare checking would be more cost effective than using contractors?

And adding MORE positions is the right way too? Sorry I don't believe that one bit.

We're already paying T Police to enforce fares.. why do we need more employees to do the job that we're already paying for. People like to complain about how much T workers make, yet in the same breath people will support 'contractors' being hired to do a job that people should have been doing. So why are we paying people again?

Maybe the better solution is to just hire more T Police and create a special "Fare Collection" task force instead. Then these same employees would be multi-positioned. Not only they can enforce fare collection but provide more public safety issues.

And besides, as I said above, a contractor has zero ability to cite and/or arrest fare evaders. So what good are these contractors?

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the assumption that most people entering the back doors of the Green Line trolleys are "sneaking on without paying their fare."

A huge number of the people who enter via the back doors HAVE paid their fare: they have a monthly pass, and they shouldn't have to wait to board while dingdongs paying with dimes hold up boarding on the train.

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I read the Herald story, figuring it would describe the details of this, but no. Can someone explain what they are envisioning?

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I'm going to assume its the finger gates style things.... like this:

IMAGE( http://subwaynut.com/irt/145n3/145n312.jpg )

Oh and whatever you do.. don't google "Ring of Steel".. oy lots of kinky BDSM devices come up.

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Ring of Steel to prevent people from sneaking in the back door....the MBTA has done got all kinky on us. Of course riding it is a pretty masochistic past-time.

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...if you're disabled. But then this is a T, and we don't give a damn about you anyway.

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...for faregates and fencing that bar access to the platforms at downtown stations w/o presenting some sort of valid pass or ticket.

And yes, there are no details of what it would look like, and yes, that is of course where the devil is.

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at least when boarding at major stations like North/South stations, Back Bay.

Bus, streetcar, train:

*Bus fare evasion really comes down to the driver, but ultimately does MBTA management actually expect a bus driver to physically or aggressively prevent someone who can't or won't pay from getting on a bus? Are they expected to contact transit police and wait for them to show up, which could take forever since it;'s a small force and a very large system? What does their union contract say? Obviously, no, they aren't supposed to get aggressive and certainly not physically confront a fare evader. I think 99% of fare evaders are serial fare evaders and known to drivers.

*Streetcars are a big problem; they get very crowded, and when above ground, it'll GREATLY slow down an already slow (signal problems, rules about going very slow into and out of stations, only one train in a station at the same time, old trains, etc.) part of the system.

*Heavy rail subway trains should not have a serious fare evasion problem minus people finding ways of sneaking into the station, letting others piggy back through turnstiles or open/unlocked exits, stuff like that. BUT, many times piggy backing is legit because Charlie Cards and tickets don't work in turnstiles (in the case of tickets they can get stuck in machines,too), there are most of the time no station T personnel present, and usually they will tell people with a Charlie Card problem to piggy back through because they already know there's issues with turnstiles not working with some cards.

Only police can actually physically stop a fare evader and arrest them if necessary, so I don't know what use hiring a private contractor will do.

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Only police can actually physically stop a fare evader and arrest them if necessary, so I don't know what use hiring a private contractor will do.

That's kind of my point too. Only police can ticket for this. A private contractor will be able to do as much as the current drivers and inspector do, which is nothing.

Unless Baker decides to give these people special powers... a move that will most certainly ruffle a few feathers at the T Police's union.. it's pretty useless.

Even still, if these contractors try to detain people (again, illegal without police presence), you gonna hold up an entire train waiting for T police to come so someone can pay $2.65? Yeah you're going to piss off a whole mess of patrons. Some of which, in order to get the train moving, will just swipe their card so the person is "paid" (this is what often happens on buses when people refuse to pay.. other riders just chip in to keep the vehicle moving)

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I think the idea is to have people in some kind of T uniform (i.e. NOT Police-like) check tickets and tell people without a ticket to get off. 95% of people who get told to leave, will. The other 4.9% will stay, but will think twice about getting hassled like that the next time. The final .1% are just troublemaker assholes that will choose to ride for free whenever they damn well please.

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We already have employees who can do this function and already do. Bus/LRV drivers and inspectors already do this and are in 'T uniform'. And since we're having a conversation about fare collection now, it's obvious this method isn't working because people know nothing will happen.

Telling people to just get off the train because they can't pay doesn't solve anything, and it actually creates more issues. Since these 'contractors' would have no authority to cite or arrest someone, the accused could just extend their middle finger and keep walking. Because they are not LEO's, they cannot touch the person, detain, them or even push them off the train.. without fear of some lawsuit. It would be very ineffective.

Once people figure out these "consultants" have no power... your 95% will drop substantially because people will know they can just thumb their nose at the person and keep walking. Its the same deal as it is today with fare evasion. People do it because they know little will be done about it.

I just fail to see how these 'consultants' will be effective. All it's going to do is just piss off other riders who will be delayed because now we're going to have some idiot who refuses to get off, and now we're stuck somewhere waiting for T Police to come and remove them. How is this better? it's not.

However, you create a task force of LEO's who do have the power to issue tickets.. And you start heavily issuing tickets for fare evasion, and watch how quickly the problem goes away. Once you get a few of these tickets, you'll learn not to do that because people are watching you. It's the same with agencies that do PoP, you issue a few 2k tickets with "if you can't pay you go to jail" option.. people really will wise up quickly. The key is actually doing the spot checks often and make it known you're doing them.

But I really think the T should just move to PoP instead. Problem will go away on its own, and you'll be able to focus your energy more on spot checking people rather than "consultants" who will just cause more delays and issues than its worth (along with a large bank roll for said agency that staffs these positions).

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n/t

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Yes the whole point of this is to catch fare evaders. If we're trying to REDUCE them, by having people say "hey pay your fare" without the ability to cite, arrest, or ticket these people is the same exact thing the current staff of drivers, inspectors and TPD are doing now.

Maybe a better phrase would be 'ineffective and no difference than how it's done today'

Edited my reply above.

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Sorry I made you type out a longish paragraph over a very simple error. The expression is "to defeat the purpose", not "to defeat the point".

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:-) Thanks for clarification. You could have just said that.

No worries

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The drivers of buses and trains are too involved in keeping the vehicle moving safely to police every person that tries to sneak on. Agreed. That's why having someone else whose only basic job is to make sure people have paid.

You seem to think that people won't listen to someone who doesn't have legislated authority to arrest, detain etc. I disagree. On the train, only the truly bad eggs will give shit back to someone who works for the T that tells them to "pay or get off". Sure it will happen. Think of meter maids who tell you to move your car. They may take lip, but the majority of the time they get the job done.

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You seem to think that people won't listen to someone who doesn't have legislated authority to arrest, detain etc. I disagree.

I still don't. As a regular reader of this site, we have numerous stories year after year of drivers getting punched, bleach splashed, or the worst because they asked someone to pay their fare.

I also see it every day on the bus(es) I ride. The ones I ride.. the fare evaders play 'language barrier' and just walk on by after the driver has tried to stop them. There's zippo the driver can do.

Without the ability to cite these people, the problem will continue. In order to get people to stop, you gotta hit'em where it hurts.. their wallet.

I just don't see how this will be any different.

And using your analogy about a meter maid, that meter maid can still give you a ticket. You can harass them all you want, but in the end they still transmit the ticket information to the RMV automatically via their handheld. You don't even NEED to get handed a paper one. I can't say this about how these new positions at the T will work, since they have no power to do so. It'll be like a slap on the wrist and people will continue to do it

I'm also on the argument (which I said above) about cost analysis about this. I'd like to know if there's any cost savings at all by hiring additional staff to do so. As I said before, the number of fares they would have to collect is outstanding.. almost obnoxious... to break even. Not sure where they think they are going to recoup any of the money when it will just go right back out in pay to these 'consultants'.

Like I said, this is nothing more than creating "Consultant" positions for a problem that hiring more people just won't solve. It will take more than some school marm standing at the door going "pay your fare".

PS - After this whole big thing about fare evasion.. how much do you wanna bet more people try it now? I mean it's been pretty clear across all the news sites that its rampant and easy to do and there's no one who can stop you.

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They should fix this first. Doing away with punch cards is a no brainier. Putting up fare gates at north, south and back bay too. What they really should do is make everyone get a tap card and have the conductors do scan ins when people board. They make everyone get on the train at 2-3 doors anyway and the conductor is standing at each one, so why not? I am tired of the argument that people can't buy tickets at the station. That's too bad. You can pay in cash and you can buy a ticket on your phone. As for the phone thing, those should work with scan technology like airline boarding passes.

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I ride the Needham line maybe a dozen times a year. Since punch cards expire too soon, I buy single ride tickets when I need them. If the conductor doesn't come and take a ticket OR if he doesn't punch a card, the rider goes for free. How does getting rid of the 10 ride cards help? You still have to allow a way for occasional, non-smartphone owners, to pay.

BTW, I agree that there is plenty of non-payment on the commuter rail and THAT should be tackled first. Another conductor (or lower wage stooge) on any of the "at capacity" lines would definitely pay for his/her salary through increased fare compliance.

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Just my personal observation, but punch cards are an issue because they are so often used by people to try to avoid their fare. People try to use expired cards, or keep cards that have 10 punches (or more) and try to argue that they still have punches left on them. etc. In sum, they are just an opportunity for fare evasion. You would think this would not be such a problem. But amazingly, there are a not insignificant number of people who ride commuter rail who appear to spend most of their time thinking about how they can ride without paying. In light of this "sport," the number of methods to avoid paying a fare needs to be reduced, preferably to zero. I actually disagree that there should be a means other than smart phone for paying the fare but, recognizing that many people wouldn't agree with that, my answer is: cash. Silly as it is, you can still use cash to ride commuter rail if you happen not to have a smart phone.

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I have had a punch card re-punched in a used spot. It does happen and for some it is, as you say, a game. Since they don't give you a discount for a 10-trip versus 10 individual tickets, there's no extra value in them other than convenience.

I hate to pay cash because:
a) The conductors hate it
b) They can charge a 50% surcharge
c) I'm not sure that some of that $ isn't going home in his pocket

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10-ride tickets are going away with the upcoming fare hike.
The surcharge is $3 and is added when buying tickets on-board when boarding at a station with fare vending machines or a ticket counter, namely North and South Stations, Back Bay, Porter and elsewhere where the commuter rail and subway intersect.

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"10-ride tickets are going away with the upcoming fare hike."

Really? Where did you hear this, and why?

Are they *trying* to increase transaction costs, and decrease convenience for passengers and employees?

I think they should keep the 10-ride tickets, and give a 10% discount to encourage their use. And maybe encourage some discretionary ridership in the process. Right now if you're not able to use a calendar-based monthly, there are *zero* other discounts available.

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Paper 10-ride tickets are going away. See http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/About_the_T/Board_Meetings/FINAL%20FAR...

Eliminating the Ten-Ride paper ticket option on Commuter Rail. Ten-ride tickets will remain available via the mTicket app.

The MBTA's stated reason is to cut down on fare evasion, although they have not elaborated on how this helps.

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How could anyone win such an argument about the ticket being used up?

As far as expired tickets, they can solve that problem by making tickets last forever. Some railroads do it. (So does the Post Office.) Other than giving accountants a headache over a fictional financial problem, there's no reason not to do it. One of the T's goals is to collect fares. The other is to get people out of their cars and onto public transit. Non-expiring tickets would help with the latter.

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There's an article here that goes into much better detail, including percentages of tickets never collected by conductors--plus things like people's faking "M" tickets:

http://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/the-t-wants-you-to-snitch/

In any case, this is apparently their "low-tech" interim solution, until they implement the new system that can charge fares based on distance/zones with readers at all bus/trolly/train doors within the next couple years (similar to London, etc), and finally getting rid of this 100+ year-old manual ticket system:

http://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/t-eager-to-shift-to-cashl...

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He also said the electronic “M” ticket that riders can pay for and display on their smartphone is subject to fraud. He said some riders will take a screenshot of a ticket and display that, counting on conductors being too busy to examine it closely. The ticket is supposed to move on the screen to indicate to conductors it is valid. But Williams said some resourceful passengers will take a short video of the electronic ticket and show that to fool the conductor.

Brilliant: inconvenience all riders because of a poorly designed and easily counterfeit-able app set-up.

“The gate stops that because you can’t argue with a gate,” he said.

And if they're as robust as the Charlie gates, they'll often be in an always-open malfunction mode, or will fail to accept paper CharlieTickets, which just happen to be the fare media you get if you buy a one-ride commuter rail fare from a ticket counter or machine.

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I don't feel inclined to believe a guesstimate from Keolis. Last we heard from them they had a great idea to decrease delayed trains: Schedule less trains. They were stunned that we didn't listen to their nonsense about cascading delays (The next train can't be delayed if there is no next train!). This time they have done a press release that has the public foaming at the mouth and eager to do whatever they say. Don't be that guy.

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Baker needs to keep this problem in mind for green line extension. One of his ideas to cut costs on the GLX is to design cheaper stations, like the ones at most above ground green line stations, where riders pay as they board. He didnt seem to care that this would slow down the new line (if its built), but he should care that it costs the MBTA millions in lost fare revenue.

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You can't really evade fares on the CR, can you? The conductors take the cash. I very rarely get a free ride on the CR in Boston.

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Idiotic. The problem on commuter rail isnt that people are sneaking on. Only someone who has never ridden a train in their life would think that. The problem is that payment is only made when staff lifts the ticket, and staff doesnt lift the ticket because the train is either two crowded or they simply dont want to do it.

That means the person can keep the ticket and use it next time.

The solution is to move the fare collection off the train, and have the on-board staff act as a second check.

Sure, you can do it with a brand new multi-million dollar system, with tens of millions going to consultants and contractors, using new fancy machines that block off access and require serious maintenance.

Or you could simply install dirt cheap validator machines on platform that stamp the ticket. That way, if its not collected, it cant be re-used.

I wonder which one is the globally accepted practice.

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You've got the problem and the solution (mostly) all in one post. A+ for you!

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Commuter rail conductors were supposed to get those tap card "thingies" when we first got the Charlie cards so they could just tap and go. They still don't have them which is typical of the T.

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Aside from spoofing the smartphone M-tickets, it's pretty damn easy to spoof the monthly cards.

I get mine through my employer (which subsidizes public transport), but I have NEVER had a conductor actually scan the card to see that it's valid. It's not hard and there is generally enough time between stops for them to perform a more thorough check. I could easily save >$150/month by making my own pass and flashing it at them.

The gate bottleneck could be partially solved by not "witholding" the track information until the last possible moment so that everyone rushes the platform at once. At least at NS, there are multiple trains waiting well in advance of the departure...it's not as if they don't know the destination.

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The gate bottleneck could be partially solved by not "witholding" the track information until the last possible moment so that everyone rushes the platform at once. At least at NS, there are multiple trains waiting well in advance of the departure...it's not as if they don't know the destination.

Actually, they often don't. Pay attention over the next couple days to the car numbers on your train... the same trains don't do the same runs every day. They send whatever is available.

It also depends on crew requirements. Crews obviously have to begin and end their shifts at the same terminal, which means that crews often don't stay with the same train throughout the day.

I'll give you a hypothetical example:

Say the train led by cab car 1801 arrived on track 2, which is usually used for Newburyport trains. An outbound Newburyport train is due to depart in 15 minutes. However, this outbound train's crew come in on a different train from that led by car 1801. The crew's inbound train ends up delayed, meaning the outbound Newburyport train ends up delayed. While waiting for the crew, the dispatcher decides to send the train led by car 1801 out as another outbound train whose crew is ready to go, in order to only have 2 delayed trains instead of 3. Decisions like these are made on-the-fly, and allowing commuters to board the train led by car 1801 assuming it is going to Newburyport, and then actually sending it elsewhere instead means that all those people who already boarded have to get off, and the T/Keolis have to actually send an employee to walk that train and tell all the passengers to go to the other train, because you can't hear station announcements from on board trains.

I have personally seen multiple people VERY frustrated to end up on, e.g., a Salem express because "this train usually goes to Fitchburg!"

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I could easily save >$150/month by making my own pass and flashing it at them.

You could also save yourself a ton of real money by making it yourself and quickly slipping it to unsuspecting cashiers at your favorite stores.

Really, is this what we have come to? Everyone is looking for every way to scam everyone else? Is this just different because the T is "the government"?

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Some important details are missing from this plan.

How would these gates read tickets sold on board? They're currently just a piece of paper with holes punched in it. Would they give the conductors ticket stock with a magstripe?

How would the gates open for people paying with an mTicket on their phone?

How many gates would they need to handle several trainloads arriving at once?

The gates would not prevent riding past the zone on your ticket.

I don't understand what they mean by "manual gates" at stations like Porter and Ruggles.

And lastly, how will this plan interact with the T's plan to replace the entire Charlie system?

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The Green Line Extension was originally planned to have regular stations instead of the street-level access like the rest of the Green Line. With regular stations I'm sure there is less fare evasion, but regular stations are much more expensive. So what do they do?

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I have been riding the commuter rail (Framingham/Worcester line) for about 2 months now. My fare has been collected on every trip. The conductors have been, to a person, exceedingly courteous, if not downright friendly. I was shocked.

I rode the Green Line for 21 years before this recent switch. I saw people get on the back doors without paying probably on 9 out of 10 trips. Operators would try their best to ask people to pay nicely, then move toward guilting people into paying (I used to particularly like it when they would call out people by what they were wearing). 7 times out of 10, the evader simply ignored the operator, and the operator, having a very important other task to handle, essentially had to concede.

I witnessed my first attempt to evade on the CR yesterday . A woman who was at least in her 30s attempted to pay for a fare out to a station in the 495 vicinity with $6. The conductor kindly told her that the fare was roughly double that. She then proceeded to feign a language barrier problem (I am confident in saying this because she had been speaking English into her phone relatively well about 5 minutes prior). She then produced some kind of card, which she was alleging gave her a reduced fare. The conductor politely asked her if she was a high school student. After some back and forth, she said "college". The conductor politely told her that the reduced fare was for high school students only (at this point, the conductor was understandably becoming a little curt, as the guy had lots of other fares to check, and we were leaving the City zone so he had to do it before the first Newton stop). More language barrier stuff ensued for a while until the woman said "I will use my phone." The conductor, flabbergasted and exasperated, said, "you could have just done that in the first place." He proceeded to check the rest of the fares in the car before she got her ticket, so I was wondering whether he would come back. He did, and it was only then that she actually validated the ticket.

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That's not fare evasion. That's public theater!

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The only thing that made the experience a little humorous was that the conductor's voice and mannerisms were reminiscent of those of the character "Pops" (played by Laurence Fishburne) on the show Blackish. I think Fishburne is hilarious in that role.

Other than that, I found the entire exchange ridiculous and totally uncalled for. As our friend dbperry always reminds us, the conductors are almost never the cause of any problems, but they are often the targets of misplaced anger and generally have to deal with a lot of crap. It is amazing to me that so many of them can remain so pleasant for so long.

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and i agree. And that's not to suggest conductors are perfect - they are people too, but they get dragged through the mud more than they deserve. Not their fault the train sets are too small and overcrowded for them to safely and efficiently do their jobs.

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However, I've taken the Rockport line out of North Station on and off for 25 years or so, and consider T conductors to be some of the worst customer service I've ever dealt with, anywhere. Rude, lazy, incompetent...overpaid. Sorry, but to a great degree the stereotypes are true. Sure they have to deal with drunks, junkies, assholes, idiots, etc. So, I can understand why you'd be a jaded person. However, so does the person behind the counter at your local 7/11, and you get paid A LOT to do not much more.

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Which part of this counts as attempted fare evasion?

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I know, but if you are really claiming that you don't, that exposes you as one of the people who thinks that unless you are specifically asked to pay your fare by a conductor, you do not have to pay.

This is, apparently, what people who do not activate their mTicket until asked think, and I'm sorry, but that is just flat out wrong, and yes, attempted evasion.

You are riding the train, for which you are required to pay. If you do not activate your ticket for that trip, and you leave the train without paying using another means, you have received the service without paying the fare. Paying only when you are caught trying to do that is, by definition, attempted evasion.

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Um, our fare collection system *depends* on the conductor asking people to pay. You're allowed to buy a ticket on board. And at many stations, if you don't have a smart phone, you *have to*.

I suppose if I board in the suburbs and the conductor never asks me to buy a ticket, I could put $6.25 in an envelope and mail it to 10 Park Plaza. Or buy a ticket the next time I'm downtown and flush it down the toilet without using it. But I have no legal or moral obligation to do so, and no normal person would even think to do this.

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I rode the Green Line for 21 years before this recent switch. I saw people get on the back doors without paying probably on 9 out of 10 trips.

Until relatively recently, street-level outbound stops on the Green Line were no fare. Perhaps that's where you saw this "9 out of 10" not paying (as, indeed, they were not supposed to).

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That swallowed the word "inbound" between "10" and "trips".

More likely, I just glossed over that word as understood, given our knowledgeable UHub audience.

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Costly, but I feel like it could be integrated with your charlie card. Basically, you could insert fair gates at the beginning of the platform, or have a conductor stationed there with a mobile scanner. As people make their way down the platform, they tap through (just like on the subway), this is your entrance point. Then when you get to your destination you tap-off, which could either be a scanner on each door on each car, set of scanners at each station. When you tap-on that set's your starting point, then when you tap-off that ends your trip and charges the proper amount against your stored balance (if you have balance on your card). If you have a monthly (or 10-ride, or weekly pass, etc.) it basically checks to make sure that your start & end point are in the appropriate zone. If for whatever reason, you take a trip outside the zone for which your pass is for, then it charges you the extra. If you decide to not tap-off, then the system would just assume that you took the full trip to the end of thel line and charge you accordingly, and that is the incentive for people to tap-off. The tricky thing is getting people on the inbound trips. You're not going to be able to have fair controlled platforms, so I think you would need the conductors with scanners walking the cars setting the start point.

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Basically, you could insert fair gates at the beginning of the platform, or have a conductor stationed there with a mobile scanner. As people make their way down the platform, they tap through (just like on the subway), this is your entrance point.

Some rush hour trains carry over 1400 people on them on average. How long do you think it would take to have a conductor scan 1400 people's tickets, and deal with the ones who don't have them (e.g. on-board sales)?

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Has the MBTA or Keolis published the Methodology used to generate their $35 Million number? I don't doubt that fare beating on commuter rail is wide spread. However all numbers from the T are suspect unless carefully vetted .

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It's very rare that my pass isn't checked. And even on crowded trains, the conductors usually manage to get to everybody. How do they really know how many people are using something other than a pass on the few times they don't get to everybody?

Any system in place like extra turnstiles needs to be paid for before fare money starts being saved.

Oh, and if the conductor doesn't ask me for my ticket, that doesn't mean I am a fare evader.

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In the winter on some lines when it's mobbed every day, they never even come close to checking all the tickets. And then apparently other less-crowded lines get checked religiously. It just depends on where you are.

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Europe has this problem of fare evasion fixed for the most part.

1) Buy a ticket to your destination from a ticket agent or machine.
2) While still in the station walk to the ticket validation machine and get it punched.
3) Board the train and take the ride.

No conductor bothers you. Their job is to assure people board and get off and assure passenger safety and comfort.

Now, sounds like a bad system right? Not so. At random times and unannounced, rail inspectors will board at random stations on random days at random hours to walk through the train to see if you have a properly validated ticket.

If you do, have a nice day.

If not you are arrested on the spot, taken off the train and booked with an average of $275 USD fine or more depending on where the violation occurred.

People still take a chance of course, but most don't want to face a judge and the hefty fine, and possibility of being banned from the trains for a while.

Fare evasion is not as big a problem there now.

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