MBTA staff presented several fare change proposals that aim to improve equity by closing gaps in existing fare structures for Reduced Fare Riders, minimize pandemic-related revenue implications and budget uncertainties while increasing ridership where possible, and simplify fare tariff rules as the MBTA’s Fare Transformation Program (AFC 2.0) moves forward. If approved by the full MBTA Board in March, these fare changes would go into effect on July 1, 2022. The MBTA welcomes public comment on these proposals.
“We’re excited about our upcoming fare proposals that prepare for technology updates to come as part of AFC 2.0, increasing equity through improvements to LinkPasses, especially for our Reduced Fare Riders, and making the popular mTicket 5-Day FlexPass permanent for Commuter Rail riders,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “If approved by the MBTA’s Board in March, these proposals will allow the T to continue to best meet the needs of riders through incremental fare improvements that reflect how they travel now and in the future, while minimizing revenue implications in this time of continued uncertainty.”
Making Permanent 5-Day FlexPass on mTicket for Commuter Rail:
First introduced as a pandemic fare pilot in June 2020, the 5-Day FlexPass available on mTicket for the Commuter Rail is a bundled fare valid for any five days of travel within a 30-day period. Good for unlimited travel within a 24-hour period, these five passes are available for 10% off the cost of 10 one-way trips. An attractive option for riders whose travel patterns have changed due to hybrid work schedules and the availability of remote-work options, the 5-Day FlexPass on mTicket is proposed to be made permanent. If approved, the permanent 5-Day FlexPass would go into effect on July 1, 2022, or sooner.
Reducing Price of the 1-Day LinkPass:
In an effort to increase ridership by encouraging more riders to buy passes and increase equity for low-income and minority riders who often purchase this fare product, MBTA staff have proposed to lower the cost of the 1-Day LinkPass from $12.75 to $11. An $11 LinkPass pays for itself with five subway rides taken in 24 hours. If approved, the $11 1-Day LinkPass would go into effect on July 1, 2022.
Expanding Second Transfers on Buses, Express Bus Routes, and/or Subway:
Currently, the MBTA only allows one transfer between Bus and/or Subway with one recent addition – CharlieCard riders may transfer from Bus to Subway to Bus. To simplify complexities in the T’s transfer policy, MBTA staff have proposed standardizing the transfer process to allow all combinations of second transfers involving Buses, Express Bus Routes, and/or Subway, including Bus-Bus-Subway, Subway-Bus-Bus, and Express Bus-Express Bus. If approved, the second transfers on Subway and Buses and transfers between Express Routes would go into effect on July 1, 2022.
Proposed Changes for Reduced Fare Riders:
Some riders are eligible for reduced fares, including people with disabilities and Medicare cardholders, people 65 and older, some middle and high school students, and people 18 – 25 with low income. MBTA staff have proposed three fare change proposals that aim to improve equity by closing gaps in existing fare structures for Reduced Fare Riders:
· Introducing the 7-Day LinkPass for Reduced Fare Riders:
Aiming to increase equity by increasing the benefits of purchasing fares in bulk for Reduced Fare Riders, MBTA staff have proposed the introduction of a 7-Day LinkPass for Reduced Fare Riders, which is not currently available. This 7-Day LinkPass for Reduced Fare Riders is proposed to be available for $10, which breaks even after nine subway rides. This product is designed to meet the needs of individuals who might not have enough cash on-hand to afford a monthly pass, but who qualify for Reduced Fare programs. Reduced Single Ride fares for Reduced Fare Riders are $1.10 for the subway and $0.85 for the bus with a Reduced Monthly LinkPass available for $30. The Full Fare 7-Day LinkPass is available for $22.50. If approved, the expansion of Reduced Fare 7-Day LinkPass would go into effect on July 1, 2022.
· Introducing Monthly Passes for Reduced Fare Riders on Commuter Rail, Ferry, and Express Bus:
In order to increase equity by closing gaps in the T’s offering of products for Reduced Fare Riders, MBTA staff have proposed introducing monthly passes on Commuter Rail, Ferry, and Express Bus for Reduced Fare Riders. This proposal would offer a full set of monthly passes for Reduced Fare Riders at approximately 50% of the full fare pass prices. Currently, Reduced Fare Riders have to purchase Singe Ride tickets to benefit from the Reduced Fare pricing. If approved, the expansion of Monthly Passes for Reduced Fare Riders would go into effect on July 1, 2022.
· Expanding Availability of the LinkPass for Reduced Fare Riders on Commuter Rail Zone 1A and Inner Harbor Ferry:
Currently, a LinkPass for Reduced Fare Riders is only available on CharlieCard fare media instead of a printed “flash pass” CharlieTicket that Commuter Rail conductors and ferry staff can see to visually validate a fare. As more updates take place as part of AFC 2.0, customers will be able to use tappable tickets as well as CharlieCards to travel on the Commuter Rail and Ferries. As such, and to increase access and equitable pricing on Reduced Fare passes, MBTA staff have proposed making the LinkPass for Reduced Fare Riders valid for Commuter Rail travel in Zone 1A and on the Charlestown Ferry. If approved, this expansion of the LinkPass for Reduced Fare Riders would go into effect on July 1, 2022.
The public is invited to comment on these proposed changes at a virtual public meeting to be held on Thursday, February 10, 2022, at 6 PM well as the official public hearing to be held virtually on Thursday, February 17, 2022, at 6 PM. The public is also welcome to submit comments online through Thursday, March 3, 2022, at mbta.com/2022FareChanges or by email to [email protected]. The Title VI analysis will be shared with the MBTA’s Board and posted to mbta.com prior to the scheduled March 24, 2022, Board meeting.