Skip to main content

MBTA Studies, Addresses Green Line Fare Collection Issues

Posted on October 21, 2016

BOSTON - During this year's fare adjustment process, a key concern raised by MBTA customers was that not all fares are being collected. Of particular concern was fare collection on the surface Green Line, where all doors are opened to facilitate quicker boarding during peak hours. At the direction of the Fiscal and Management Control Board, the MBTA investigated the financial and operational impact of the all-door boarding policy on the Green Line.

The MBTA designed and executed a study to estimate the fare revenue losses of our all-door boarding policy. Currently, in order to speed the boarding process, passengers are allowed to board through the rear doors at most, but not all, stops during peak periods, and rarely outside of peak periods. The MBTA deploys personnel at key boarding locations during the morning peak to collect fares off-board. This field study observed boardings on all four surface branches of the Green Line - B, C, D, and E - primarily during peak hours. For more on the study's methodology, click here:

The study made a number of findings.

  • Most people boarding Green Line trolleys from surface stops enter through the front doors to pay an MBTA operator, even during peak hours.
  • Of those boarding through rear doors, approximately 69 percent have passes and so do not contribute to revenue loss.
  • MBTA officials who collect fares from passengers on the platform at the busiest stations allow approximately 8 percent of peak hour passengers to board pre-paid through any door.
  • From the remaining passengers who board through the rear doors, the MBTA fails to collect an estimated $1.6 to $1.9 million in fare revenues per year, compared to $95.0 million in annual Green Line revenues.
  • Crowding on board Green Line trains causes a disproportionate share of revenue losses. On more crowded trains, a larger proportion of passengers board through the rear doors, causing those trains to have larger losses of fare revenue per passenger.

The MBTA is addressing these revenue losses through short, medium, and long-term measures. In the short-term, the Authority will continue off-board fare collection at the busiest times and stations. The MBTA will use insights from this research to optimize the times and locations of MBTA personnel to maximize fare collection. The MBTA will continue to inform passengers of the need to pay their fares, even if they board through the rear doors.

In the medium-term the MBTA is working to reduce spikes in per-train crowding by improving the reliability of train arrivals at each station. Finally, in the long-term the MBTA is procuring a new fare collection system that will enable payment at all doors of Green Line vehicles and proof of payment fare enforcement.


Media Contact Information

For all queries and comments, please contact:

MassDOT Press Office