Fare Payment Compliance on MBTA Buses and Light Rail

Fare evasion reduces needed revenues to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). There is a need for methods to track fare payment compliance over time to assess fare collection policies and technologies. It is important to monitor fare payment patterns and the effect of policies and technologies on the MBTA’s ability to collect fares. Although fare gates provide a systematic measure of various types of fare non-payment for the MBTA heavy rail system, it is more difficult to measure different types of non-payment on buses or light rail vehicles. Manual observations are costly and therefore conducted infrequently, so there is a need for methods to track fare payment compliance over time and identify where and when manual checks are most valuable. This project coincides with the Fare Transformation project that changes how passengers pay fares. This project has two main objectives: (1) To use existing data sources to estimate the rates of fare payment compliance on MBTA buses and light rail services. (2) To develop a method to identify when and where manual spot checks of fare payment/evasion behaviors are most valuable. The proposed research method is to start with data that the MBTA already collects in a continuous and comprehensive manner. These data include records from automated fare collection (AFC) and from automated passenger counters (APC) used on buses and light rail vehicles in the fleet. A joint analysis of this data with existing records of infrequent manual observations will be used to develop a model to estimate rates of fare payment compliance across bus and light rail lines. Patterns in the AFC or APC data that are correlated with higher rates of error or uncertainty will provide insights about where and when it is most valuable to conduct manual spot checks of fare payments. The final deliverables will include a replicable method to estimate fare payment compliance on buses and light rail services.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $150000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Massachusetts Department of Transportation

    10 Park Plaza
    Boston, MA  United States  02116
  • Project Managers:

    Zavolas, Nicholas

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    130 Natural Resources Road
    Amherst, MA  United States  01003
  • Principal Investigators:

    Gonzales, Eric

  • Start Date: 20230501
  • Expected Completion Date: 20241031
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01912846
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Massachusetts Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 121858
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Mar 22 2024 1:24PM