T eliminating plastic-paper/cash price differential
Bus ridership forecast to hit 50% of pre-COVID levels in Sept.
THE MBTA SAID on Wednesday that starting September 1 it plans to eliminate the significant price differential between those who pay their fares with rechargeable plastic CharlieCards and those who pay with cash or paper CharlieTickets.
The premium for using cash or paper is high. Currently, someone boarding a bus and paying with a paper CharlieTicket or cash pays $2 — 30 cents more than someone using a plastic CharlieCard. Subway riders who use paper CharlieTickets pay 50 cents more than the standard $2.40 fare with the plastic CharlieCard. The fare differential runs as high as $1.75 for outer express buses.
The fare reduction was approved back in May but is only now taking effect. The change is a recognition of the fact that the plastic cards were not readily available across the system and the impact fell hardest on poorer people who tend to use cash. The price reduction is the beginning of a transition to a new fare system that will eliminate cash payments on board buses.
The fare shift is coinciding with a change in bus service. With bus ridership forecast to grow from 41 percent to 50 percent of pre-COVID levels by September, the MBTA on Wednesday announced it is preparing to adjust service levels to avoid crowding thresholds.
The T also said crowding thresholds are being prioritized over service frequency when deciding where to add service. “This means that resources have been diverted from less-crowded routes to accommodate routes where heavy crowding is observed, even if it means decreasing service below the frequencies in the MBTA’s service delivery policy,” the T said.