Keolis proposes system to reduce MBTA fare evasion

Written by Carolina Worrell, Managing Editor
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At the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board meeting, which took place on April 25, 2016, Keolis presented a new proposal for fare collection that would dramatically reduce fare evasion on the MBTA Commuter Rail system while increasing revenue by up to $24 million annually. Under the Keolis proposal, the MBTA fare collection system would be updated to make it easier to buy tickets, but more difficult to evade fares.

“Ensuring that every commuter rail passenger pays the correct fare when riding the train is critical to providing a fair service to paying customers and increasing revenue,” said Keolis Commuter Services General Manager Gerald C. Francis.

Earlier this year, the company conducted the very first survey to measure the impact of fare evasion, and found that 15-20% of commuter rail passengers are traveling on the wrong fare or have not purchased a ticket, costing the system as much as $35 million each year.

A primary driver of fare evasion is the open design of the current fare collection system. Keolis told FMCB board members that the company was willing to make the capital investments necessary in order to bring the system in line with international best practices, including updating the ticketing technology and installing gates at the major stations.

Keolis is a global leader in operating public transportation networks and has successfully implemented similar programs for systems around the world.

“When Keolis bid on this contract, we identified fare evasion as a source of lost revenue for the MBTA and said we would be coming back to the T and making recommendations for improving the system by leveraging our experience from managing systems around the world, and that’s exactly what we are doing today,” Francis said.

Fare evasion has been a long-standing issue for the MBTA Commuter Rail system, but little was done in the past to tackle the problem. Since taking over operations in July 2014, Keolis has partnered with the MBTA on several initiatives to reduce fare evasion. These include adding conductors, with 97% of passengers now reporting that their fares are collected all or most of the time. Keolis also launched a “Fare is Fair” initiative in stations to ensure passengers have the correct tickets before boarding their train. The company also announced a new email address. [email protected], where passengers can report issues with fare collection or fare evasion.

“Keolis has and will continue to actively fight fare evasion to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share. But there are still underlying weaknesses in the current system that must be addressed if we are to maximize revenue,” Francis said. “We look forward to partnering with the MBTA to deliver a system that ensures every passenger pays their fair share.”

Categories: Commuter/Regional, Rapid Transit, Regulatory Tags: , , ,