As announced at last month’s MBTA Board of Directors meeting, new electronic fare gates will be installed and begin operation on North Station’s concourse this spring. This improvement is part of the Commuter Rail’s fare gate program that will ultimately add gates at North, South, and Back Bay stations. There will be no impacts to Commuter Rail service from the fare gate construction project, however riders will notice construction activity in sections of the North Station concourse.
“This is an important first step in delivering on our commitment to prevent fare non-collection on the Commuter Rail system,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “The vast majority of Commuter Rail customers travel through North, South, and Back Bay Stations. These fare gates at North Station as well as fare gates to come at South and Back Bay Stations will allow us to improve our level of fare collection and collect more detailed information on passenger demand.”
The new gate system will:
• Improve fare collection
• Replace platform-door ticket checks
• Create a more consistent fare-paying experience across transit modes
“In partnership with the MBTA, we support the installation of the new fare gates which will modernize the Commuter Rail network, deliver benefits for riders, and improve the customer experience in fare collection,” stated Keolis CEO Abdellah Chajai.
The gates are designed to accommodate an even greater number of Commuter Rail riders than was typical before the pandemic, and as such they will not slow movement through the station, rather they will reduce crowding when a train’s departure track is announced.
The design and configuration of the fare gates at North Station was developed with riders’ needs in mind, and involved many steps, including:
• Observing and analyzing riders’ behaviors and pre-pandemic movements through stations
• Consultations with mobility specialists
• Modeling exercises to maximize functionality
The resulting layout features 30 gates installed around the concourse area, including nine wider, accessible gates that allow sufficient room for wheelchairs, scooters, bicycles, luggage, and strollers.
Construction activity will be conducted on weekdays between 5am and 2pm. During the first phase of construction, two sections of the North Station concourse will be blocked off at a time to allow for the removal of flooring and the installation of electrical components. After the first two sections are complete, these areas will reopen while the work moves to two different sections of the station. There will be three rounds of this work in phase one, with two sections blocked off during each round to ensure ample passenger flow through the station. As work begins in each section, there will be a period of louder than normal noise in the concourse while the flooring is removed. Passenger Assistants will be available to help any passengers needing assistance navigating the changes.
After this first phase of construction is complete, the second phase will begin which includes the installation of the fare gate stanchions and framing with doors open. This final phase will also be conducted in sections around the concourse. Riders may visit the project page at MBTA.com/CRfaregates for updates on construction throughout the spring.
Once the fare gates are operational beginning at North Station in late spring 2022, riders will notice the following fare collection changes:
• Exiting North Station will be different with the new gates. Riders will be required to tap, scan, or swipe their tickets or passes both to enter and to exit at North Station
• Riders will still need to show tickets to conductors on board to verify ticket zone
• Riders who arrive at North Station without tickets will be required to purchase them through the mTicket app or from a staff member stationed at the gates
• Gates will be operational and staffed from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily
Prior to activation of the fare gates at North Station, riders will be given the opportunity to try the gates and experience the process for entering and exiting for two weeks before they are officially launched.
Project updates, detailed information, FAQ’s and video demonstrations will be posted online at MBTA.com/CRfaregates as construction progresses. Details for the trial period and official launch of the gates will be shared once those dates are confirmed. Gate installation at two other hub stations, South Station and Back Bay Station, is planned for later in 2022.
Passengers can stay connected with Commuter Rail by calling customer service at 617-222-3200, following @MBTA_CR on Twitter or signing up for T-Alerts at www.mbta.com/alerts.
Keolis Commuter Services operates and maintains the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter rail system, the sixth largest commuter rail operation in North America. KCS is a subsidiary of Keolis North America (KNA), both headquartered in Boston, and employs approximately 2,500 people throughout the region. KCS and KNA are part of Keolis Group, an innovative global leader in transit services with more than a century of passenger transportation experience and operations in 16 countries.