Green Line and Commuter Rail passengers dodging fares could be costing the MBTA up to $42 million dollars a year.

A survey by MBTA management released earlier this week points to commuter rail customers as the worst offenders. Up to 20 percent of riders avoid paying the full fare – or paying it entirely – and the survey estimates that fare evaders may cost the already cash-strapped MBTA $35 million this year. 

Peter Williams is leading initiative at Keolis, which operates the MBTA commuter line, to crackdown on fare evasion.  

Fare Gates

Keolis officials have proposed a $10 million dollar plan to install fare gates at three key stations.

The North, South, and Back Bay stations, according to Williams, “account for 90 percent of journeys into and out of Boston.”

“If we were to gate those stations, and therefore control entry into and exit from the system,” says Williams, “then we can definitely recover the lion’s share of revenue and reduce fare evasion to the levels we see in other railroad markets.”

Keolis officials estimate that recovered losses from fare gates could add up to $24 million dollars.

Short-Term Solutions

As the plan goes through the approval process, Keolis officials are doubling down on their “Fare is Fair” program, encouraging commuter rail passengers to report riders who aren’t paying, as well as conductors who aren’t properly collecting fares.

Customers can also expect “blitz” checks by transit officials at stations in trains, according to Williams.

By not giving people advance notice, he says, “we disrupt their travel patterns and catch them when they’re not expecting it, and therefore encourage them – and sort of disincentivize them – from fare evading.”