Boston Commuters Criticize New Fare Gates While KCS Sees Little Complaints

Photo: Mike Macklin / WBZ NewsRadio

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Many North Station commuters in Boston are not happy about the new fare gates installed, but according to Keolis Commuter Services, that narrative is not translating— as those outcries make up a very small portion of the complaints they see on their end.

WBZ's Mike Macklin was at North Station to survey the scene and found riders that were unimpressed with the new system that was installed in October of 2022 to thwart fare evaders.

"It's madness. It's pure unadulterated madness. You have to come here 20 minutes earlier basically to catch a train. This is completely unnecessary. [At rush hour] it's the worst. Complete waste of taxpayer dollars," commuter Johnny Walker said.

Photo: Mike Macklin / WBZ NewsRadio

With the new gates, riders are required to verify their Commuter Rail trip when they enter and exit North Station by tapping, swiping, or scanning their tickets. The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority shared a video explaining how the new fare gates are intended to work— doing away with platform-door ticket checks and improving fare collection.

But many riders are finding the new system hard to use and more of an obstacle on their commute.

"You know, I don't remember that I need to get my bar code out when I get off the train, so I got to reload the app— and then you tap it, and it takes a moment to get through. It's just an added hassle.

Haney went on to bring up another perspective on the issue, concerning the people who go to North Station for purposes other than waiting for the Commuter Rail.

"It seems a bit inhumane to people who want to use the benches, people who are homeless and they used to use this base as a place to sit and hang out and just rest their feet and get warm. They don't have access to that anymore, so where do they go? They're just out on the streets," said rider Paul Haney.

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WBZ NewsRadio reached out to KCS, a spokesperson for which told us that only 3 percent of its customer complaints are related to the fare gates for the month of January. KCS officials say the gates are designed with the riders' needs in mind, including emergency access, handicap access, and allows for rider traffic heading in and out of the station.

"Our customer service agents are on-site to answer any questions or resolve any issues related to ticketing, and we are focused on actively supporting our passengers as they learn how to use the new fare gates at North Station," a spokesperson for KCS said.

WBZ's Mike Macklin reports.

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