Keolis, MBTA Expanding Fare is Fair Initiative on Commuter Rail

Successful events help educate passengers on ticketing options, while helping to reduce fare evasion

BOSTON – September 1, 2017 – Keolis Commuter Services (KCS), the MBTA’s operating partner for the commuter rail, announced today that starting September 5 its successful Fare is Fair initiative will increase its activity to become a daily occurrence. This expansion is to better educate passengers on the range of ticketing options, including convenient monthly passes and the Mticket app, and reduce fare evasion.

Fare is Fair events are random ticket checks on all lines at random stations and historically have been held 6 – 8 times per year. During these events, ticket verification agents educate riders on ticketing options and ensure that passengers have an appropriate and activated ticket prior to boarding a train. The Fare is Fair teams are mobile and are deployed to select stations at a set time, not all stations at once.

In the past, these have been held at North Station, South Station and outlying stations and have been successfully executed during mid-week peak periods. During an event, not every train is checked but many are in order to reach as many passengers as possible.

“Making Fare is Fair ticket checks a daily occurrence is an important part of our efforts to modernize commuter rail ticketing and bring best practices to the network,” said David Scorey, CEO and General Manager, KCS. “Similar passenger rail systems in the United States and in cities around the world utilize a variety of strategies, including events such as these, to educate passengers on ticketing options and reduce fare evasion. Our intention is to incorporate many of these practices in a way that is effective in Boston.”

Starting Tuesday, Fare is Fair events will be held daily throughout the network, beginning with off-peak times then as passengers become more aware these will move to peak commute and outlying stations. Next week the teams will be at North Station mid-day on Tuesday and Wednesday, Back Bay Station mid-day Thursday and South Station mid-day on Friday. Future schedules will be made available as appropriate.

Fare is Fair ticket checks generally occur before boarding, rather than as passengers get off a train. Trains are not held for these activities, but Fare is Fair staff will ensure lines are minimized to ensure passengers make their scheduled trains.

In a recent survey only two-thirds of passengers said their fare was collected “all the time.” This concern is one of the most common complaints by regular passengers who pay for their ticket. When coach cars are crowded, conductors are prevented from checking all tickets. As a result, passengers often do not activate a ticket, have a paper ticket punched or pay cash for a ticket on board.

“Millions of dollars each year is lost due to passengers purchasing an incorrect ticket or in some cases no ticket at all. These are resources that could be invested into critical network, fleet and service improvements,” Scorey added. “Many regular passengers have already experienced Fare is Fair events. These do not unreasonably inconvenience passengers, and this same philosophy will be used as we design and deploy other modernizations around the commuter rail, including strategies to reduce onboard cash, deploy digital scanners for conductors and implement gate systems.”

KCS is designing plans to incorporate ticketing-checking gates at its three major stations, transition to onboard ticket scanners and implement key marketing initiatives. Plans for these will be announced as they are finalized.

These initiatives are part of a recently-expanded partnership between the MBTA and Keolis focused on modernizing and marketing the commuter rail to grow ridership. Common outside of North America, this revenue sharing agreement is the first agreement of this size and scope in the United States.