MBTA board approves fare changes set to take effect in July

A fare machine on an MBTA bus shows the cost of a ride: $1.70. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A fare machine on an MBTA bus shows the cost of a ride: $1.70. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

MBTA riders can expect to see some fare changes in July. The T's board approved a proposal that the agency hopes will improve equity and increase ridership.

The changes include expanded transfers for bus, subway and express bus services and a price reduction for single day LinkPasses, from $12.75 to $11.

Riders who qualify for the reduced fare program, including many students and seniors, will also have more options. The program will now offer options such as seven-day passes, a monthly pass for commuter rail, ferry, and express bus service, and expanded access to the Charlestown Ferry.

The vote also made permanent the five-day FlexPass for commuter rail.

If ridership numbers are high, MBTA official Lynsey Heffernan estimated the changes could cost the T somewhere in the range of $1.6 million-$2 million and benefit up to 172,000 riders.

The T took public comment on the changes between in late January and early March. Steven Povich, the agency's director of fare policy and analytics, said most people were supportive of the fare proposal, but wanted the agency to go further, suggesting “things like adding a means tested fare, moving stations to Zone 1A, or supporting free buses.”

The introduction of the new fare proposal prompted more calls for a means-tested, or low-income, fare program, which would essentially include low-income riders in the existing reduced fare program.

Currently, seniors, middle and high school students, people with disabilities and low-income adults up to age 25 are eligible for reduced fares. But there is nothing available for low-income adults older than 25.

The T has studied low-income fare programs in other cities and outlined what it would take to implement a similar measure, but a lack of funding remains a barrier.

Correction: An earlier of version of this story misspelled the name of MBTA official Steven Povich. We regret the error.

This article was originally published on March 24, 2022.


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Darryl C. Murphy Host
Darryl C. Murphy is the host of WBUR's daily news and culture podcast, "The Common."



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