Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On free transfers

There is a Tweet going around that Baker's MBTA bill has language that would allow the T eliminate free transfers. This is bad policy for a variety of reasons, disproportionately impacts the poor, disabled and elderly and would run counter to industry best practices. More on that another time. For now, here is the specific language in case you want to contact your legislator.

Current statute contains the following (Chapter 161A, Section 5, Subsection (r)):
To adopt, and revise as appropriate, a fare policy which addresses fare levels, including discounts, fare equity and a fare structure, including, but limited to, fare media and passes. Said fare policy shall include a system for free or substantially price-reduced transfer privileges.
And Governor Baker's Bill (here) would replace that language with:
[T]o adopt a fare policy that balances the operational needs of the authority, the extent to which the authority’s fare recovery ratio is consistent with those of peer systems, the objective of increasing ridership and maximizing total fare revenues and the needs of its riders, including those of lesser means.
Much more on what the role of government is (to maximize revenue or to provide necessary services?) another time. But this is bad policy, and should not be implemented or put in to law.


  1. Ugh - such backwards thinking. Why should I be penalized if my journey requires a transfer between routes, while other riders pay a lower fare only because their destination happens to be along the same route? I would love to see the separate bus and subway fare structures abolished and a single fare implemented with free transfer privileges within two hours.

  2. "[T]o adopt a fare policy that ... is consistent with those of peer systems"

    The only peer - which is to say the only nearby comparable means of getting from Point A to Point B in the Commonwealth - is the roads and highways. So, as long as there are no highway toll or gas tax increases, there shall be no fare box increases, or we'll take the State to court.

    Who's with me?

    1. This is more Pioneer Institute baloney; they are behind a lot of this nonsense and are pushing these sorts of policies, yet their analysis is complete bunk. Full report on their "bus maintenance study" soon.

    2. Charlie has been a big payer in the Pioneer Institute for a long time. His dad was one of the founders. These moves to privatize or sell off public assets such as schools and transportation should come as no surprise. Cui bono?