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.

  • Charlie

    This new policy is great in theory but I’m a bit skeptical that it will work in reality. There are many times when the Green Line is quite crowded outside of rush hours (Red Sox games, Agannis Arena events, busy Saturday nights), where making people funnel through the front door to board will not be practical. It seems like they’ve tried various version of this policy over the years and in the end the drivers just end up opening all the doors to keep things moving. Otherwise, you end up spending a significant amount of time at each stop, making the already slow Green Line even slower.

  • Shirley Kressel

    Transit advocates have been begging for at least 20 years. Why didn’t the T do it before? There seems to be no sentient being at the top of this agency. Instead of figuring out how to make enclosed pre-pay areas where people can stand ready to file onto the car, or even paying another T guard to watch for fare payments OR SOMETHING, IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE HERE, PEOPLE, they just do the laziest thing. No one there cares. If service is cut, great, less work for us guys! Maybe if it were not an “independent authority” but a regular state department, so the Gov is directly accountable instead of shrugging his shoulders like, “Hey, it’s out of my hands,” all those people begging in lines at hearings about T service cuts and fare hikes would have some effect. That’s why these authorities were created, to do the dirty stuff and protect politicians from retribution.

  • Ian

    If the T is indeed doing this, here are some tips for us riders:

    1. Move into the train: Wouldn’t it be great if people actually moved into the train instead of clogging the front.

    2. Hurry-up: be ready to pay ASAP. Let’s not add an extra 20 minutes to the commute please.

    3. Let people off the T before boarding.

    Can’t wait to see what happens during rush hour.

    • Ian

      After careful consideration I’ve come to the conclusion that each stop above ground will take 7 minutes to unload and load passengers. Great!