Boston North Station MBTA faregates discussion

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Fenway

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Very simply the MBTA hired a security company to work as MBTA 'ambassadors' to make sure all arriving commuter rail passengers had a 'Charlie Card'

Amtrak 692 arrives at North Station full of Bruins fans for a 1 PM game and security says you need a Charlie Card to enter North Station

You can not blame the security company for this, especially on Day 1 as their workers were told passengers needed to be scanned.
 

amtrakpass

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Amtrak tickets barcodes both paper and electronic open the new gates at North Station so this should not be much of an issue going forward. Although you do have to scan the Amtrak ticket barcode at the scanner on top of the gate at least for now, not just tap which could be better explained. Full instructions on how to use the gates with both MBTA and Amtrak tickets are here on the MBTA site Commuter Rail Station Fare Gates | Projects | MBTA
Whether or not the gates are a good idea or not are a different issue but they will also be installed at South Station and Back Bay eventually
 
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Whether or not the gates are a good idea or not are a different issue but they will also be installed at South Station and Back Bay eventually
I wonder how they will provide access to the South Station bus terminal once the fare gates are installed. Currently if you are coming from the train or the subway you can access it via the track 1 platform. I guess once the gates are installed you will have to walk around outside in the rain or the cold ☹️.
 

railiner

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I wonder how they will provide access to the South Station bus terminal once the fare gates are installed. Currently if you are coming from the train or the subway you can access it via the track 1 platform. I guess once the gates are installed you will have to walk around outside in the rain or the cold ☹️.
Perhaps the scanners will accept bus ticket barcodes, as well?
 

amtrakpass

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With the south station concourse being rebuilt at the moment I am not sure what the final configuration will be for bus terminal access but I wouldn't think it would involve going outside. As the previous response guessed maybe the gates will accept bus tickets since they seem to be able to be programed to accept any barcode if desired. Also if you came in on a train the gates would accept that previous ticket to exit. It could change in the future but at present these entry/exit gates are not fare deducting or verifying gates like you might see on a subway. They are just accepting any and all tickets and then conductors still have to check if the correct fare was purchased.
 
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Rambling Robert

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The Boston Garden sits above North Stationl. For as long as I can remember on event nights like bruins/celtics/concerts at north station the passengers on trains leaving Boston Garden/North Station just after the event let’s out ride free outbound including all other passengers. I’d say this would effect under 5% of revenues.

I doubt South Station would be gated because there are no events like North Station has to deal with.

It’s kinda ridiculous to have the gates - instead the MBTA should surcharge.

I hope they do away with the gates. Previously there attemptwas staff members to read every ticket - maybe 5 or 6 MBTA folks to a track platform that faced a huge swarm of people. One by one. Rediciulous.

Again, I think the MBTA should surcharge the Garden to make this fair/fare.
 

fdaley

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I can hardly wait to try navigating this on our next Downeaster trip (Thursday) -- trying to scan a ticket for three of us and then get all of us and our roller bags and wheelchair through the gates.

I remember the staff checking tickets at the gates on some prior trips, another super hassle. The MBTA seems to have latched on to the idea that there's lots of fare evasion going on; is there any real evidence to support this?
 

Rambling Robert

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Fare evasion was IMO less of a factor than shoplifting in department stores.

I would occasionally ride a late train and there were about 50 passengers that got on at North Station and on event nights 300-400 when some passengers were kinda rowdy and might be in part why fares weren’t collected.

I’m sure for all the late trains the MBTA lost millions of dollars due to the decision not to collect fares.

The rgate system wasn’t operational when I was in at North Station last week. Another scheme the MBTA was surcharging passengers $4 for outbound at North Station if a ticket was bought the train . Brilliant.

The MBTA should point their finger at themselves.

As far as South Station the gates have no purpose - the three skyscrapers that are gonna stick out of South Station’s iconic image (one is 51 stories) - I doubt developers would allow it.
 
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fdaley

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I haven't been on one of those late-night commuter runs in years, but every T commuter run I've ridden at other times of day has had a conductor or trainman who checked every ticket. And many of the commuters are traveling on monthly passes in any case. Putting in fare gates seems like a huge expense to solve a problem with fare collection on a few late-night runs, and of course it creates inconvenience for passengers at every other time of day.
 
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I am confused.

So if they put commuter fare gates at South Station, and someone comes in on fancy first-class Acela for mega bucks, and they want to go use the lovely lounge, they have to have a commuter ticket to enter the station?

Or they want to stop in North Station and get a Downeaster ticket from a real person at a real ticket counter, they can’t get til they’ve gotten a commuter ticket?

What if they just live up there and want to stop in South Station and get coffee or a sandwich?

I must be reading this wrong.
 

fdaley

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I am confused.

So if they put commuter fare gates at South Station, and someone comes in on fancy first-class Acela for mega bucks, and they want to go use the lovely lounge, they have to have a commuter ticket to enter the station?

Or they want to stop in North Station and get a Downeaster ticket from a real person at a real ticket counter, they can’t get til they’ve gotten a commuter ticket?

What if they just live up there and want to stop in South Station and get coffee or a sandwich?

I must be reading this wrong.
When I was at North Station last month, I saw the gates being installed in an area around the zone of the concourse where all the track gates are. So, you can still wander into the station from outside, and go to the ticket windows or the Dunkin' Donuts or the other retail tenants, without passing through the fare gates. But to reach any of the departure tracks -- and apparently, when you arrive on the train and want to leave the track area -- you'll need to present a ticket. I had read that the gates are supposed to be able to scan Amtrak tickets as well as MBTA cards. Still, it is another thing to juggle if you have luggage, children and elderly or disabled passengers. I would think it would be an even bigger hassle at South Station, where people traveling longer distances represent a larger share of those using the terminal.
 
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When I was at North Station last month, I saw the gates being installed in an area around the zone of the concourse where all the track gates are. So, you can still wander into the station from outside, and go to the ticket windows or the Dunkin' Donuts or the other retail tenants, without passing through the fare gates. But to reach any of the departure tracks -- and apparently, when you arrive on the train and want to leave the track area -- you'll need to present a ticket. I had read that the gates are supposed to be able to scan Amtrak tickets as well as MBTA cards. Still, it is another thing to juggle if you have luggage, children and elderly or disabled passengers. I would think it would be an even bigger hassle at South Station, where people traveling longer distances represent a larger share of those using the terminal.

Thank you. That makes it much clearer.

SEPTA has a similar system, but they have staff near the gates to assist anyone.

I have handed them my printed paper ticket (or now my senior key card) to scan while I take my suitcase through—they are very helpful, so hopefully Boston staff will be as nice.

I always have a printed ticket in my pocket—easier to produce in situations like this (or to the cafe attendant on the train for my free BC coffee). It’s just easier for me to pull out a piece of paper than to juggle a phone — but I understand others may be just the opposite.
 

Fenway

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Much of the problem stems from the MBTA giving low bidder Scheidt & Bachmann the Charlie Card 1.0 contract some 15 years ago.

Scheidt & Bachmann in that contract was obligated to integrate fare collection on commuter rail and ferry services but was never implemented. The core issue was the lack of power outlets on commuter rail coaches made the S&B scanners next to impossible to be reliable and the MBTA didn't push the issue.

I have never gotten clarity on why the MBTA does not run the commuter rail in house like SEPTA but contracts it out to a vendor like Keolis



 

amtrakpass

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Some of the gates are wider in order to be handicap accessible. It might be a good idea to look for these gates if you have some larger pieces of luggage. There also should be customer service staff in the vincinty if not at every gate, if you need some help getting through
 

MARC Rider

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The difference between suburban faregates at Philadelphia 30th St and the Boston stations is that the SEPTA tracks with faregates at Philadelphia are completely separate from the Amtrak tracks whereas in Boston, Amtrak trains share platforms with MBTA trains. SEPTA really needed the faregates, BTW, because at one point, I remember riding from a closed outlying station on a weekend, and I couldn't buy a ticket, and no conductor came by for the whole trip, thus giving me a free ride. I think now they have Key Card scanners and ticket vending machines at the outlying stations. It does requires a cumbersome 3-step fare collection process, though. You need to scan your ticket at the outlying station, then it's scanned by the conductor on the train, then you need to scan it to exit at the faregates at 30th St or the Center City Stations, and if you forget to scan it at one point, you may get charged the maximum fare.
 

John Santos

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I am confused.

So if they put commuter fare gates at South Station, and someone comes in on fancy first-class Acela for mega bucks, and they want to go use the lovely lounge, they have to have a commuter ticket to enter the station?

Or they want to stop in North Station and get a Downeaster ticket from a real person at a real ticket counter, they can’t get til they’ve gotten a commuter ticket?

What if they just live up there and want to stop in South Station and get coffee or a sandwich?

I must be reading this wrong.
I think (but am not certain, and it's not like the MBTA has never totally screwed anything up in the past, say 72 hours), the fare gates at North Station are between the platforms and the station, and you need a ticket (either an MBTA commuter rail ticket or an Amtrak ticket) to pass through them in either direction. You do NOT need any sort of ticket, and do not need to pass through the gates, to get from the street to the station lobby or waiting rooms, or from the T subway (Orange and Green Line station) to North Station, nor from the T or the street to sporting events at the Boston Garden. The gates are just to keep unticketed people off the platforms. That has been the rule at both North and South Stations for years, but without the gates, was unenforceable. (I have no idea why you have to have a ticket to get FROM the platform to the station, and I think it might violate fire laws.)

I don't think they plan to install similar gates at South Station until the skyscraper construction has progress far enough that it no longer disrupts the passengers in South Station, but when they do so, it will probably be similar to the situation at North Station. It is more complicated because of the bus station, but there is no arena and no vast mobs of Celtics/Bruins/concert/event fans. There are lots more rail passengers at South Station, though.

Last time I was at South Station (in June) I didn't notice if they had blocked them off, but there have long been at least two direct passages from the outside sidewalks to the platforms. One (or maybe two) next to the bus station and one at the far end of the station down Summer Street half a block towards the Fort Point Channel.
 
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That has been the rule at both North and South Stations for years, but without the gates, was unenforceable. (I have no idea why you have to have a ticket to get FROM the platform to the station, and I think it might violate fire laws.)
I was thinking the same, but transit systems I've been on that require a scan to exit also have some sort of emergency exit gate adjacent. In the NYC subway, both passengers and MTA personnel ignore that the gate's marked for emergency only, and everyone uses it as an exit when a full train comes in. In systems that charge by distance traveled, the penalty is that you'll probably be charged the maximum possible fare.
 

Rambling Robert

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I hadn’t realized the fare gates deter cheaters from paying full fare. However the stop station stop before North Station on the Rockport an Newburyport lines is Chelsea. Chelsea has a new silver line that connects to the blue line and red line as well as South Station. So someone that wants to can get off at Chelsea which does not have fare gates and get in to Boston by way of the silver line, blue line and red line. By the way the Chelsea station has recently transformed from a dumpy little station to a substantial station. It’s been over five years since I used the dumpy Chelsea station to get on the silver line which is the quickest way to get to the airport. But at the time there was no easy way to get off the train.

A passenger that always doesn’t pay full fare is going to make hundreds of dollars a year and more
 

SubwayNut

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I'm pretty sure the fare gates aren't replacing conductors checking tickets on the trains, it's just a second check, and requires everyone going to and from North Station to have a ticket. I assume on Septa there's no penalty if you just tap on and then tap off at your origin and destination and the conductor doesn't make it to you during your ride. There collecting and checking fares for passengers not going to and from Center City.

Their multiple Metro systems, where you have to tap a ticket to both enter and leave the system on a fare gate, Washington DC, and BART are clear examples, it doesn't violate fire codes.

NYCs emergency exit gates and didn't have slam bars until the late 2000s (Lawrence Street, now part of Jay Street-Metrotech got the first in 2006) and were controlled from the token booth. Before the emergency exit gates that had super obnoxious alarms when the passenger operated bars were added and you were getting off the subway with a bicycle or stroller for example, you needed to get the attention of the token booth to leave the subway, some of them had a button to call the token booth, who would then open the "Special Entry gate" as they were signed for you.

The subway basically came full circle, before the early 1990s when all the stations had new electronic turnstiles installed for MetroCard, many stations had slam gates, a gate that exiting passengers pushed open to leave the subway next to the turnstiles. I remember at my childhood station, 181 Street, there were originally two slam gates on each side of the turnstiles, one was replaced by a special entry gate, the other just became a fence
 

Rambling Robert

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Later today I’ll be in DC on segment 10 of an 11 segment USA loop. I used the DC Metro for the first from Gaithersburg MD (suburb) to Columbus Circle DC in 1977. At Columbus there was a very long escalator.

But more recently during the pandemic, I used the metro twice and the DC fare structure was too complicated Also a very short trip took three trains.

In Boston one fare fits all and seniors are half price - about $1:40 for the T including subway transfers. The MBTA Commuter Rail is half price tor seniors, or $5.50 for an hour ride from the suburbs.

DC rides from the suburbs are especially cheap off-peak and seniors. I expect DC and Mass subsidize transit to keep cars out of the city.

So for today it’s a trip to the zoo then dinner and music at the Dubliner..ha ha .

... if my legs hold up.
 
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