Riders confess to fare evasion

How does the MBTA figure out how many commuter rail riders aren’t paying their fares? It asks them.

A survey of 1,655 commuter rail riders at the beginning of March indicated 80 percent paid the correct fare, while the remaining 20 percent either paid nothing (3 percent), paid an incorrect fare (5 percent), used an invalid ticket (6 percent), or refused to say (6 percent).

Extrapolating from these survey results, the MBTA concluded its commuter rail operator, Keolis, is failing to collect about $35 million a year in fares, or about 16 percent of its total revenue. It’s unclear how the survey results yielded the fare evasion estimate, but the authority apparently has enough confidence in its numbers to launch a major effort to curb the problem.

The current plan is to spend $10 million to install gates at six key commuter rail stations and to invite riders to snitch on fare cheaters by emailing fareisfair@keoliscs.com. (I can’t wait to hear how this will work. If I email that the guy in the red shirt on the Needham line didn’t pay his fare, will that summon forth a squad of fare crackdown commandos?)

Using separate data, MBTA officials estimate they are failing to collect $1.3 million to $4.5 million a year in Green Line fares and $1 million to $2.4 million in bus fares. The T says most of the Green Line fare losses come from opening all doors on trolleys at above-ground stops to allow passengers to exit, which allows fare evaders to hop on without paying.

–BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

The House nixes an increase in the gasoline tax and a cut in the film tax credit. (State House News)

A Salem News editorial backs a proposal from Gov. Charlie Baker to give local municipalities control over the issuance of liquor licenses.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says there may be indictments in connection with a federal probe of union strong-arming tactics, but “I will not be getting one of those.” (Boston Globe) Walsh told the Herald he had a “couple conversations” with Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone in connection with an Assembly Row construction project that is part of the investigation.  Michael Monahan, an electrical workers union official and one-time member of the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal who has been subpoenaed as part of the probe, is facing an assault complaint in Dorchester District Court, accused by a fellow IBEW member of menacing him with a baseball bat. (Boston Herald)

Joan Vennochi says there’s a fuzzy line between dogged union advocacy and illegal coercion. We’ve seen our share of thuggish union types over the years, says Kevin Cullen, and Walsh is not that kind of union leader. A Globe editorial says Walsh needs to disclose who has been subpoenaed from City Hall and what they’ve said.

Lowell’s all at-large voting system helps explain why whites control every elected municipal position in an increasingly diverse city. (CommonWealth)

The lawyer for a Chapter 40B development planned in Sudbury has accused the town of prejudice in opposing the project, saying residents and officials have made racially charged statements about the proposal. (MetroWest Daily News)

Methuen officials look to sell advertising at Nicholson Stadium to pay off the $3.2 million bond used to renovate the facility. (Eagle-Tribune)

Wareham is considering an electronic voting system for Town Meeting that would make voting more efficient and private. (Standard-Times)

CASINOS

The Mashpee Wampanoag have purchased the 300 acres in Middleboro where the tribe had once considered building a casino, making local officials wary of what they plan for the land. (Cape Cod Times)

The state gambling commission approved Wynn Resorts’ traffic and environmental plans, but gave itself an option to revisit the issue and increase the amount the company pays in mitigation for its Everett casino. (Boston Herald)

Charlie (bleeping) Lightbody is the focal point of the ongoing federal fraud trial over the Wynn Resorts property in Everett. (CommonWealth)

ELECTIONS

Ted Cruz’s campaign aides are vetting one-time rival Carly Fiorina as a potential vice president pick. (Weekly Standard)

Alan Dershowitz says Hillary Clinton should resist the impulse to veer left to appease those feeling the Bern. (Boston Globe)

A federal judge upheld a sweeping Republican-backed election reform law in North Carolina that opponents say disproportionately hampers voting rights of blacks and low-income people. (New York Times)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Chinese business delegation tours Gloucester seafood businesses, particularly those shipping lobsters abroad. US lobster exports to China, which totaled $2 million in 2009, now are valued at $90 million. (Gloucester Times)

Union trade workers are pushing Quincy city councilors to take away some of Mayor Thomas Koch’s control over the downtown redevelopment and calling for more union labor to be hired for construction. (Patriot Ledger)

Dante Ramos says Uber and Amazon can no longer hide behind the excuse of being start-ups to defend poor corporate practices like the exclusion of Roxbury from Amazon’s same-day Prime delivery service. (Boston Globe)

A federal appeals court overturns an earlier ruling and sides with management in a labor tiff involving a local union worker, Tom Brady. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

A Springfield Republican editorial praises the Senate’s charter school legislation as a reasonable compromise that the House and Gov. Charlie Baker should work with.

A group of Boston middle school students are leading a push for a statue honoring Frederick Douglass. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Baystate Health in Springfield is pushing a budget amendment that would give it an extra $10 million to avoid layoffs of about 200 workers. (MassLive)

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee narrowly declined to recommend US sale of a drug produced by Cambridge-based Sarepta Therapeutics to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. (Boston Globe)

Boston Health Care for the Homeless will open a monitoring room where addicts can “ride out” their high while being watched for signs of overdosing. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA says as much as $42 million is lost every year from fare evasion, the bulk of it on the commuter rail. (CommonWealth)

Gerard Polcari, the T’s chief procurement officer, is tackling a time warp at the transit authority. (CommonWealth)

The MBTA pension fund reports negligible gains for 2015, and questions persist about its transparency. (State House News)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Scientists say the world’s largest primate, the Grauer’s gorilla, could be extinct within the next decade. (New York Times)

Emily Norton of the Sierra Club and Francis Pullaro of RENEW Northeast say Massachusetts should boost its renewable energy targets. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The family of Jerry Bradley is pressing for answers on why he died in a Springfield police lockup. (MassLive)

A Massachusetts State Trooper is being held without bail on domestic violence charges. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

The publisher of the newly launched Boston Guardian are coming under fire for choosing a name of a long-ago publication that has historical significance for blacks in Boston. (Bay State Banner) The publisher says the name hasn’t been in use for more than 60 years and he has no intentions of dropping it from his new paper. (Boston Globe)

The New York Times is expected to lay off about 200 staffers in the second half of the year. (New York Post)