MBTA Cracks Down on the Green Line

Green Line MBTAYou’re no longer welcome to come on and take a free ride. (Photo by Meghan Ireland)

In a head-smackingly obvious move, starting in mid-May, the MBTA will cut down on freeloaders by shutting the back doors on all Green Line trains. The simple — and let’s say it again, obvious — step ensures that everyone has to enter the front door, where they’ll be forced to pay a fare. Believe it or not, it took the MBTA a pilot program — launched on the E-line in January — to realize that this was a good idea to help increase revenue (or, at the very least, not give it away).

Closing the Green Line doors is only the latest move to help increase revenue: Last week, our associate editor Casey Lyons pointed out that MBTA is handing out 50 percent more tickets to turnstile-jumping scofflaws.

Beyond revenue, though, enforcing the payment of fares is important for reasons of pure fairness. Fairness might seem like the kind of virtue taught only in kindergarten classrooms, but research has shown that city dwellers take it very seriously. In their book Threats from Car Traffic to Urban Life, Tommy Garling and Linda Steg connect the dots between studies showing a correlation between perceived fairness and accepting of the pricing of transportation. In other words: If everyone pays up, then we’re less likely to complain about the fare bump.

Or, as Lyons wrote in his story:

Even if enforcement does add up to drops in the bucket, it gives me the warm and fuzzies that the T is pushing some of the responsibility for the deficit onto fare skippers, rather than just raising rates and cutting service for the rest of us upstanding (okay, mostly upstanding) riders of public transportation.