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More from How to Pay Your Fare

Read our step-by-step guides to paying your fare on each MBTA mode, and find info about transfers, where to buy tickets, and more.

How to Pay Your Bus Fare

Before your trip

MBTA fixed-route bus and Silver Line bus fares are paid at the onboard fare box located at the front of the bus. test

Tip: Some Silver Line stops are underground, so you will pay your fare the same way you would pay a subway fare. 

First, choose your how you’ll pay your fare

There are 3 ways to pay your bus fare: CharlieCard, CharlieTicket, or in cash at the onboard fare box.

CharlieCard

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CharlieCards are reusable plastic cards that can be loaded with cash value or 1-day, 7-day, or monthly passes.

CharlieCard holders pay lower single ride fares and can manage their accounts online. 

Standard single ride CharlieCard fare: $1.70 

Where to get a (free!) CharlieCard 
Learn about transfers 

CharlieTicket

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CharlieTickets are reusable paper passes that can be loaded with cash value or 1-day, 7-day, or monthly passes. 

Standard single ride CharlieTicket fare: $2.00

Learn about CharlieTickets 
Learn about transfers 

Cash

Cash fare payments are accepted onboard all MBTA buses. 

Cash fare payments do not include transfers to other modes of transit.

Standard single ride cash fare: $2.00

Then, choose where to buy your ticket or pass

Fare Vending Machines

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You can buy or renew 1-day, 7-day, cash value, and monthly passes on CharlieTickets and CharlieCards at fare vending machines. They are located at all subway stations and at the Lynn and Worcester/Union Commuter Rail stations.

Most machines accept cash and major credit/debit cards. Some machines only accept credit/debit cards and are clearly marked to indicate they don’t accept cash. 

Onboard Fare Boxes

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You can add up to $20 in cash value to a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket at onboard fare boxes. 

How to use the onboard fare box 

Retail Sales Locations

You can get new CharlieCards and load them with cash value or a 1-day, 7-day, or monthly pass at stores located throughout the Greater Boston and Providence areas.
 
Cash and credit/debit cards accepted.
 
Find a store near you  

Online

Cash value and passes can be added to CharlieCards online. 

We recommend registering for a MyCharlie account to protect your card if it is lost, stolen, or damaged. 

Sign up or log in to MyCharlie 
Reload your card without creating an account 

When you’re ready to board the bus

There are 3 ways to pay your fare at the onboard fare boxes on all Local and Express Buses and street-level Silver Line stops. 

Pay with your preloaded card or ticket

CharlieCard

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Simply tap your CharlieCard on the fare box target to pay your fare.

CharlieTicket

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With the orange arrow facing up and away from you, insert your ticket into the fare box. Your ticket will be returned after the machine reads it. 

Tip! If the fare box beeps once, your fare payment has been accepted. If it beeps quickly 3 times, it was unable to read your card or there wasn’t enough money on it to pay your fare.

Or, add cash value to your card or ticket

Fare boxes accept coins and bills up to $20. Daily, monthly, or weekly passes are not available for purchase at the onboard fare box.

CharlieCard

  1. Tell the driver you need to add value to your CharlieCard, and then tap it on the fare box target.
  2. Insert cash or coins up to your desired value. Change is not returned from onboard fare boxes, so any cash you insert (up to $20) will be loaded onto the card.
  3. Tap your CharlieCard to complete the transaction.
  4. Tap 1 more time to pay your fare.

CharlieTicket

  1. Tell the driver you need to add value to your CharlieTicket, and then insert it into the machine with the orange arrow facing up and away from you.
  2. Insert cash or coins up to your desired value. Change is not returned from onboard fare boxes, so any cash you insert (up to $20) will be loaded onto the ticket.
  3. Remove your ticket from the machine. 
  4. Insert it 1 more time to pay your fare.

Or, pay in cash

  1. Tell the driver you are paying your fare in cash.
  2. Insert the amount displayed on the fare box. 

Tip! If you insert more than $0.25 over the required single ride fare, the excess will be loaded onto a CharlieTicket and dispensed from the fare box.

When you arrive

You don’t have to validate your ticket when you reach your destination.