What is Fare is Fair?

What is “Fare is Fair”?

Fare is Fair events are ticket verification checks held at commuter rail stations. The purpose is to educate riders on ticketing options and ensure that passengers have an appropriate and activated ticket prior to boarding. These activities are one component of several strategies to help reduce ticketless travel on the commuter rail.

For the past three years similar events have been held 6 – 8 times per year on all lines at random stations. Beginning in September 2017, these have been held daily at 2 – 4 stations throughout the network, including North Station, South Station, Back Bay Station and outlying stations. Our ticket verification agents (TVAs) that lead Fare is Fair activities are mobile and are deployed to select stations at a set time, not all stations at once.

Why is this extra verification necessary since conductors still have to check tickets?

Oftentimes ticketless travel occurs when a coach car is crowded, and a conductor cannot get through the car to sell, check or activate tickets.  Additionally, conductors are required to perform safety duties first, such as opening doors and traps, which have to take priority as a train approaches a station even if the conductor has not been able to get through an entire coach car.

Why do I have to show my ticket more than once?

Ticketless travel can include not having a ticket, having a ticket for less zones than needed or not having an activated ticket.  One check by a conductor on board can’t stop every type of ticketless travel.  In other transit systems in the US and around the world, it is normal to have to present tickets to staff or automatic gates at the start and end of a journey and on the train as well.

Why don’t you just have more conductors?

We have been recruiting more conductors, and conductors remain a crucial part of our plans to reduce ticketless travel.  However, conductors have other important duties. In many cases, particularly when coach cars are crowded, they can’t always check every ticket or catch every type of ticketless travel. As a result, our plans involve other approaches including checks at stations too.

Why don’t you just improve your technology to reduce ticketless travel?

We are working at the moment on improvements to allow conductors to take credit card payments on trains, and we are planning to install automatic ticket gates at some stations. However, our plans still involve ticket checks by conductors and other staff even after these technology changes have been made as this better technology does helps reduce ticketless travel, but it doesn’t entirely eliminate.

Ticket checks at stations doesn’t work. Aren’t you just inconveniencing people for no reason?

Checking tickets frequently is the best way to minimize ticketless travel as well as making changes to technology and processes.  Our experience around the world is that there is no one perfect way to remove ticketless travel. The best approach involves staffed ticket checks at stations and on trains along with automatic ticket gates and modern ticketing technology.

Has this caused crowding?

While there is an initial slowdown when passengers first begin boarding a train that has just been called, our analysis shows that this only lasts a couple minutes before clearing. This is not significantly different than the initial rush for a called train without Fare is Fair activities. Our teams have reconfigured certain aspects of the station floor plans to reduce crowding as well. Customers should anticipate having their passes out and activated when applicable to help ensure they pass through Fare is Fair checks as efficiently as possible.

What if I miss my train?

The standard time-frame for a train announcement is 10 minutes prior to departure, and TVAs can effectively and efficiently check passengers for a full train in this allotted time. While trains will not be held as a result of Fare is Fair, TVAs will speed up their verification two minutes prior to boarding. A priority for our TVAs is to ensure no passenger misses a train during these activities.

Is Special Assistance Available?

Some passengers may require additional assistance with purchasing tickets, having their tickets verified and with the boarding process. Upon request at Fare is Fair events, Passenger Assistants, TVAs and employees will happily provide additional assistance.

How are TVAs Trained?

Teams have gone through extensive fare-related training and will receive periodic, supplemental training. We welcome feedback on the professionalism of all our employees.

What if I don’t have a smart phone and there’s no vending machine at my station?

Passengers at outlying points remain able to buy a ticket on board with cash. If there is a ticket check at an outlying station, the Charlie Van will be on site or a staff member will be on the platform to sell cash tickets.  Cash ticket sales remain an option for our passengers along with mTicket, monthly passes and those purchased from fare vending machines.