Charlie Card/MBTA Fare Replacement system

JeffDowntown

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In Japan, you can use Apple Pay instead of a Suica card. They get around the need for auth by allowing you to set an “Express Transit Card”. You can also use your default transit card when your phone runs out of battery (but when you can still get the phone to show you the empty battery screen).

I’m not sure how much of this is Felica specific, but I’d love if this is what we get on the mobile side of things.
We have to keep in mind that transit payment needs to work for people who don't own smart phones as well as those who do.
 

HelloBostonHi

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We have to keep in mind that transit payment needs to work for people who don't own smart phones as well as those who do.
Why do people always respond with this, its so short sighted. The system in Japan works for both groups of people, as will the system here. Its not a "Smartphones or Cards" decision, you can successfully have both and make transit more accessible for all. And yes Apple now has that feature that allows certain cards to be accessed when the phone is "dead" which has super useful potential.
 

Proposition Joe

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Don't have to worry about equity issues with fare payment systems if the fares are set to what they're supposed to be, free. :) A lot easier to operate too!
 

HelloBostonHi

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Don't have to worry about equity issues with fare payment systems if the fares are set to what they're supposed to be, free. :) A lot easier to operate too!
Do you really think the Red or Orange lines could handle the ridership and demand if they were free? I think not... Definitely not yet. A lot of buses probably could but definitely not the key ones... I personally am quite opposed to free transit as much as I support transit and work in the industry. Having a fare encourages people to split between modes, it encourages me to bike in the summers, encourages people to walk shorter distances, and yes can encourage car usage :(
 

Lrfox

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Do you really think the Red or Orange lines could handle the ridership and demand if they were free? I think not... Definitely not yet. A lot of buses probably could but definitely not the key ones... I personally am quite opposed to free transit as much as I support transit and work in the industry. Having a fare encourages people to split between modes, it encourages me to bike in the summers, encourages people to walk shorter distances, and yes can encourage car usage :(
In short, yes. I don't think T fares are currently prohibiting many people from using the service. There are plenty of existing subsidies for folks who can't afford the monthly passes, and there really aren't many transit options that are more inexpensive aside walking/biking. And I don't know too many people who walk/bike to work who only do so because they don't want to/can't pay the T fare.

I'm not for free public transportation until we can identify other ways to ensure that the service is funded properly (both for continuous upkeep and strategic expansion). But I don't think making it free will cause a drastic increase in ridership - most of the people who are financially constricted are already using the T at no cost or extremely reduced cost.

I actually think the largest increases in ridership would be during the off-peak times. People coming into town at night and on the weekends for shows, restaurants, sports, museums, and other activities. Most downtown garages are under $20 (many closer to $10) after 5pm and on weekends. There's little incentive for a couple or a family to park at a T garage for $7-10 and then have to pay $5 in T fare for each person when you can drive right to Post Office Square and spend $9 to park after 5 or on Saturday/Sunday. If you can drive to Quincy Adams and park for $3 on the weekend and take the T for free instead of driving downtown, that option becomes a lot more appealing.
 

JeffDowntown

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Why do people always respond with this, its so short sighted. The system in Japan works for both groups of people, as will the system here. Its not a "Smartphones or Cards" decision, you can successfully have both and make transit more accessible for all. And yes Apple now has that feature that allows certain cards to be accessed when the phone is "dead" which has super useful potential.
Uh, Duh. That was what I was saying. Both should work, not an either/or.
 

HelloBostonHi

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In short, yes. I don't think T fares are currently prohibiting many people from using the service. There are plenty of existing subsidies for folks who can't afford the monthly passes, and there really aren't many transit options that are more inexpensive aside walking/biking. And I don't know too many people who walk/bike to work who only do so because they don't want to/can't pay the T fare.

I'm not for free public transportation until we can identify other ways to ensure that the service is funded properly (both for continuous upkeep and strategic expansion). But I don't think making it free will cause a drastic increase in ridership - most of the people who are financially constricted are already using the T at no cost or extremely reduced cost.

I actually think the largest increases in ridership would be during the off-peak times. People coming into town at night and on the weekends for shows, restaurants, sports, museums, and other activities. Most downtown garages are under $20 (many closer to $10) after 5pm and on weekends. There's little incentive for a couple or a family to park at a T garage for $7-10 and then have to pay $5 in T fare for each person when you can drive right to Post Office Square and spend $9 to park after 5 or on Saturday/Sunday. If you can drive to Quincy Adams and park for $3 on the weekend and take the T for free instead of driving downtown, that option becomes a lot more appealing.
If you think making the MBTA free won't increase ridership then why do it? That doesn't make any sense. Also there is lots of data out there to prove that assumption wrong. As for "plenty of existing subsidies" for those who can't afford transit, I think you're also wrong there. The MBTA offers no reduced fares for low income groups beyond the youth pass which cuts off at 25. And no I know few people who walk or ride bikes solely because it's cheaper, but I know a ton at my workplace who do it and that's a contributing factor. Human psychology is complex but money usually plays a factor (along with healthiness, speed, ease of use, reliability etc)
 

Lrfox

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If you think making the MBTA free won't increase ridership then why do it? That doesn't make any sense. Also there is lots of data out there to prove that assumption wrong. As for "plenty of existing subsidies" for those who can't afford transit, I think you're also wrong there. The MBTA offers no reduced fares for low income groups beyond the youth pass which cuts off at 25. And no I know few people who walk or ride bikes solely because it's cheaper, but I know a ton at my workplace who do it and that's a contributing factor. Human psychology is complex but money usually plays a factor (along with healthiness, speed, ease of use, reliability etc)
I didn't say it wouldn't increase ridership at all, I said it wouldn't be a drastic increase (so as to overwhelm the T). Making it free, assuming you are able to make up for the loss of fares through some other income source, makes the T 100% accessible for all income groups. I think where you are wrong is assuming that there is a significant subset of the population that doesn't use the T because they can't afford it. I disagree. There may be some people in that category, but there's a much larger segment of the population who has a hard time affording the T but does it anyway because it's their only practical means of mobility throughout the region.

You're definitely wrong about the free/reduced passes. Working in human services, almost everyone I come in contact has some variation of a free or reduced fare: https://www.mbta.com/fares/reduced

Re: biking, for starters, I think that even if everyone who bikes (about 30,000 trips per day) were to give the bike up and ride the T because it's free, it could handle that ridership. You currently have about 727,000 daily riders on the Red/Blue/Orange/Green Lines. You could accommodate 30,000 extra riders across those four lines. Especially with the new Red/Orange line cars in the fold.

But that's not what will happen. You may lose a few bike commuters to free transit, but most wouldn't regularly give up the freedom/exercise of the bike to take the T. Many of the bike commuters I know have monthly T passes anyway and still choose to ride.

At the end of the day, the T is the most cost effective method of transit for most people already. Making it free doesn't change that - it just makes it easier to afford for the lowest income riders.
 

JeffDowntown

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So what was your original post meaning?
Just that you can't have smart phone only payment options.

You need a lower tech option as well, and a means to load value on the lower tech option via cash. (Ideally move the cash processing away from the boarding process as AFC 2.0 plans to do.)

We have a lot of unbanked poor people who need transit access.
 

HelloBostonHi

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You're definitely wrong about the free/reduced passes. Working in human services, almost everyone I come in contact has some variation of a free or reduced fare: https://www.mbta.com/fares/reduced
You are SO wrong on this I can't drop it. Did you even read your own link??? Seriously?

  • People with disabilities
  • People over 65
  • 18-25 and enrolled in GED, job training or receiving select government benefits
  • Middle/high schools participating in an MBTA program
  • Police/military/fire in uniform
  • Elevator inspectors and DPW employees

Thats literally it. Thats all the people who get reduced fares from the MBTA. How ignorant can you be to send that link and obviously not read it.
 

Lrfox

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You are SO wrong on this I can't drop it. Did you even read your own link??? Seriously?

  • People with disabilities
  • People over 65
  • 18-25 and enrolled in GED, job training or receiving select government benefits
  • Middle/high schools participating in an MBTA program
  • Police/military/fire in uniform
  • Elevator inspectors and DPW employees

Thats literally it. Thats all the people who get reduced fares from the MBTA. How ignorant can you be to send that link and obviously not read it.
Of course. Do you have any idea how many low income individuals and families fall into one or more of these categories (particularly the age and disability related categories)? A lot. And many/most of the low income individuals and families in the Boston who don't fall into one of those categories still rely on the T as their primary mode of transportation because it's a hell of a lot more cost effective than owning/driving a car and they don't live within easy biking/walking distance of work.

My entire point is that cost isn't preventing that many people from using the T, but making it free would take a lot of pressure of the people who have the hardest time affording the T. Transportation and mobility are necessities to most people. And even in its current form, the T is the best answer for many of the lowest income individuals in the region. Making it free would help them even more.

You seem to be under the impression that a huge segment of the population simply sits at home all day because they can't afford the T.
 

HelloBostonHi

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Of course. Do you have any idea how many low income individuals and families fall into one or more of these categories (particularly the age and disability related categories)? A lot.
If you are between the ages of 25 and 65 there isn't a single category unless you are disabled. I'm not saying if that is right or wrong I'm just saying thats how it is. I'd rather see that changed than having free fares. I see no issue with people like myself paying for the T, as long as they are using my money correctly and making improvements. Right now I would say they are.
 

JumboBuc

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Don't forget that transit passes can also be paid for out of pre-tax earnings, which decrease their effective price by the marginal tax rate. However, this is in practice a regressive policy, because the people who have this deduction set up tend to be of higher socioeconomic status. If you have a consistent job with good benefits, your employer probably has a program set up to facilitate you paying for your CharlieCard out of your paycheck with pre-tax income. If you work odd jobs or pay your fare with cash or at a kiosk, you probably aren't getting this benefit.

And the effective discount of this policy is significant. If you're making, say, $85k per year, your total marginal income tax rate (Federal + State + Social Security + Medicare) is about 37%. These tax savings applied to a $90/month pass make the effective price only about $57. That's some serious savings (about $400 per year), and it mostly goes to people with higher, more stable incomes.
 

HenryAlan

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Re: biking, for starters, I think that even if everyone who bikes (about 30,000 trips per day) were to give the bike up and ride the T because it's free, it could handle that ridership. You currently have about 727,000 daily riders on the Red/Blue/Orange/Green Lines. You could accommodate 30,000 extra riders across those four lines. Especially with the new Red/Orange line cars in the fold.

But that's not what will happen. You may lose a few bike commuters to free transit, but most wouldn't regularly give up the freedom/exercise of the bike to take the T. Many of the bike commuters I know have monthly T passes anyway and still choose to ride.
I can definitely vouch for this. I bike 2-4 times a week and take the T on the other days. I would do the same if it were free. And since my employer subsidizes a pass, I have one anyway, meaning that I already function in a way that means no extra cost for taking the T. I think that is quite common among cyclists.

Besides making the T fully accessible, regardless of financial resources, there would likely be an increase in discretionary trips. But those generally happen off peak, so by definition do not impact capacity constraints.
 

Lrfox

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If you are between the ages of 25 and 65 there isn't a single category unless you are disabled. I'm not saying if that is right or wrong I'm just saying thats how it is. I'd rather see that changed than having free fares. I see no issue with people like myself paying for the T, as long as they are using my money correctly and making improvements. Right now I would say they are.
About 20% of the population has a disability. It’s more prevalent than you think. But that’s besides the point, what do you think the lower income population in the Boston area currently does for transportation even if they don’t qualify for a free/discount pass? If they need to get somewhere beyond walking distance, chances are they’re paying for it anyway because transportation is a necessity for most.
 

jklo

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what do you think the lower income population in the Boston area currently does for transportation even if they don’t qualify for a free/discount pass?
The bus of course, but the bus pass is only $55 a month. Someone working full time, even at MA's min wage shouldn't have a problem paying that. Now the subway+bus (which is now going to be $90) is a problem.
 

jass

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Im very skeptical of MBTA AFC 2.0, but this puts things in perspective.

NJT appears to be thinking about a new fare system...which is more like Charlie than AFC 2.0
New York has the MetroCard, PATH has the SmartLink and it appears that NJ Transit commuters will likely end up with a fare card to call their own.

But not for several years. And how it will work is anyone's guess.

The first tests of the technology that will let commuters tap a card like they're buying a coffee at Starbucks won't begin until 2019, and only on buses.

Contractor Conduent Transport Solutions was hired Wednesday to upgrade NJ Transit's fare collection system, and part of that plan includes the fare card.

"We're going to re-engineer the ticket vending machine for additional fare collection options," said Michael Slack, NJ Transit's chief information officer. "One option is to get a fare card from a (ticket vending machine) and add value as you see fit, either in dollars or (rides)."
https://www.nj.com/traffic/2017/12/seismic_change_to_how_you_pay_your_nj_transit_fare_in_the_works.html

Cutting edge stuff.
 

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