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MBTA procedures help deter fare evasion, crime

New procedures such as the strict front-door-only policy that might irk T riders have proven successful in cracking down on fare evasion and crime, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials said.

The MBTA upped security to crack down on fare evaders, reacting to public concerns from the summer that increased fare hikes should be met with strict collection policy.

The MBTA Transit Police has installed more cameras around stations, stationed more officers near automatic fare collection and established a front-door exit policy on the Green Line, said Joseph O’Connor, MBTA Transit Police superintendent-in-chief.

“We’ve had a lot of success in arresting individuals who are wanted who are committing fare evasions,” O’Connor said.

He said the MBTA first started installing cameras when the automatic fare collection system went into place.

“We immediately saw the benefit of cameras and we were able to use them to solve crimes,” he said.

The MBTA also added hundreds of cameras to the system in August, although only to detect criminal conduct and not to target fare evaders, The Daily Free Press reported earlier.

O’Connor said having more Transit Police officers around stations has been a deterrent for fare evaders.

While not every fare evader gets caught, the procedures put into place are preventing crime, he said.

“We believe that from what we have had, there are very few repeat offenders,” O’Connor said.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email that public concern was the main reason why the above-ground trolleys on the Green Line now shut their rear doors.

The public attended 31 meetings, during which they voiced concerns over T riders not paying fares, he said.

“The message was loud and clear — if the T is going to raise fares, it must make every effort to collect them,” Pesaturo said.

The front-door policy, first introduced nine months ago, has been well received by customers, many of whom had asked the T to tighten up fare collection procedures, Pesaturo said.

“In the beginning, some people appeared frustrated by the policy, but as the months passed, people grew accustomed to it, and now I hear very few complaints from my fellow riders,” Pesaturo said.

Justin Bourke, a graduate student in Boston University’s College of Communication and a regular T rider, said the front-door policy is a minor inconvenience.

“Before they did that, you’d see people going in the middle doors, but I don’t think it was because they wanted to avoid the fares,” Bourke said. “I think it was just because people were not really paying attention.”

Bourke said he did not even know there was a fare evasion problem.

“Relatively speaking, it’s pretty cheap here in Boston,” Bourke said. “It’s hard to complain.”

Jason Hoch, a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he has seen a couple of people sneak in past the automated fare collection system without paying.

“I think the biggest fare evasion would be not with the front door thing [the trolleys], but actually at the gates,” Hoch said. “It would be pretty easy, if you wanted to, to follow someone in.”

One Comment

  1. Instead of designing and implementing a proper proof of payment system like San Diego or Salt Lake City, the MBTA decided to slow service instead. Random checking and high fines have provided an adequate way of keeping fare evasion down. Also making it feasible for more people to have weekly and monthly passes that are discounted enough to make them worth having cuts down the need to cheat.