Front Door Only

By Whitney Tuthill
Boston University News Service 

“Now, citizens of Boston, don′t you think it is a scandal. That the people have to pay and pay?”

This tune written by Jackie Steiner, back in 1964 for a mayoral campaign, represents the same sentiments of many MBTA passengers today. The lyrics seem especially fitting when applied to the front-door-only policy now being enforced along the Green Line. If you have to pay and pay and pay, at least you should be able to get on and off!

Since 2010 the MBTA has been $5 billion in debt, according to their Debt Issuance and Management Policy. Should this debt affect the general public, when it seems the MBTA has a practice of hiring poorly-equipped drivers and supervisors who fall asleep on the job?

Photo by George Bizer (

After the MBTA decided to increase fares and cut services last spring, they also added a front-door-only policy when riding the Green Line above ground. The added stress to get to the front of the trolley continues to remind passengers of the hassle public transportation has become in Boston.

According to a USA Today poll, usage of public transportation has increased nationwide this past year. The B Line itself experiences more crowding due to the housing offered along Commonwealth Avenue, along with travel between two college campuses, Boston University and Boston College.

With more people comes slower exchange rates between passengers exiting and entering the trains. Now that this exchange can only happen through the front door, a massive slow down occurs.

Because the T drivers will not step on the gas pedal until their front cart is cleared of passengers, they waste hourly pay—and precious passenger time–by waiting. Often, yelling back to the passengers does not work and this wait time only grows. It seems plausible that this wait time could be spent elsewhere, especially because it also causes passengers to be late.

This reasoning behind this MBTA policy is to stop passengers from evading paying the fare and thus spiraling the MBTA into even greater debt. While the original $1.70 fare with a Charlie Card, $2.00 without, might add up, it seems irrelevant to the amount of time it costs the MBTA in waiting for stubborn passengers to move back.

The “bell system” was implemented to help avoid this exchange hassle. If someone rang the bell for their stop, all doors would have opened in the past.

Since ridership has continued to increase in Massachusetts, wouldn’t it seem fair that the MBTA would trust passengers enough to know that one fare evasion wouldn’t set them back any further?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Posted by: Michelle Johnson on