MBTA Wants to Get Rid of Cash Tickets for Trains and Buses

No more fumbling for pocket change.

Charlie Card for the MBTA Photo by Garrett Quinn

Charlie Card for the MBTA Photo by Garrett Quinn

If the MBTA has its way, riders may soon be able to pay for their fares using cell phones and credit cards aboard buses and trains.

According to the Boston Globe, officials at a board meeting on Monday pushed for a plan to get rid of cash tickets in favor of electronic payment technology and new CharlieCards. The proposal is an effort to revamp the fare-collection system as well as to speed up boarding times.

“The longer we wait, the more amount of money [it costs] to maintain this legacy system,” board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt said, according to the Globe. “And quite honestly, the riders have made it very clear: They want flexibility in the way that we do fares.”

The proposal would eliminate the use of cash for payment on buses and trains, but riders would still be able to pay in cash in order to load money on an updated version of the CharlieCard at vending machines. If passengers found themselves short of money on their CharlieCard while boarding a bus, they’d be able to use credit cards or smartphones to pay for fares aboard the T.

Before anything is set in stone, the alteration would need approval from the MBTA’s fiscal control board and could take at least two years to go into effect.

While officials believe the new system would be more convenient for riders and reduce costs, critics are concerned that the plan could have a negative effect on low-income customers who usually pay with cash.

“There is a very real population for whom buying a [CharlieCard] with a credit card or putting substantial money on a stored-value card is a burden, and they have to be protected,” said Paul Regan, executive director of the MBTA Advisory Board.