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MBTA: Time's Up For Free Rides

A Charlie Ticket for the MBTA. (Chitose Suzuki/AP)
A Charlie Ticket for the MBTA. (Chitose Suzuki/AP)

With the resumption Monday of front-door boarding at surface-level transit stops, the MBTA is bringing back another staple: fares.

Passengers had been able to avoid paying on buses and trolleys for the three-plus months that they were only allowed to enter through the back doors — an attempt to mitigate COVID risks by limiting interactions between drivers and riders — but T officials made clear in a press release that when the system returns to normal boarding procedures this week, fares are once again due.

The MBTA installed plastic barriers between operators and passengers on its vehicles, so riders can now interact with the farebox at the front of the vehicle with limited risks, officials said.

Full fare collection will also start up again on the commuter rail, where conductors would not ask riders without passes to pay on board during the worst stretch of the pandemic as another risk-minimization strategy.

Ridership had been at historic lows for the months in which typical fare policies were suspended.

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