A Pretty Much Guaranteed Free Ride

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There’s no such thing as a free ride.

Ask any accountant and he or she will tell you that there’s always a cost involved.

Some businesses give free samples to market their products – a cost to grow revenue.  Others give their products or services away because of inadequate controls.

The MBTA falls into the latter category.

There is a growing buzz about sporadic fare collection on the commuter rail.  Riders may or may not be charged because of the number of conductors or riders on any given train. Non-pass holding riders know the odds well – in time, they’ll get to work or home without forking over a dime. It’s a waiting game.

But there are some pretty much guaranteed “free” rides on the commuter rail that you don’t have to wait for and people take advantage of them regularly.

For instance, on the Framingham/Worcester line, fares are not collected (at least not from what I have seen) for riders who board at South Station and get off at Back Bay or Yawkey stations.  I hear for outbound riders getting off at Back Bay on the Providence line get the same freebie. There are likely other ones, too.

How much foregone revenue do these “free” rides add up to?  The MBTA would probably say minimal amounts. But to this $265 per month pass-holder, any free ride is too much.

It’s well past time for the MBTA to ante up and make an investment in improved fare collection, automated or otherwise.