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Public Transit Public Good Coalition Condemns MBTA’s Proposal to Impose a $3 Surcharge on Charlie Cards

MA – The following statement has been issued by the Public Transit Public Good coalition:

“This new surcharge of $3 for Charlie Card, proposed by MBTA staff at the Audit and Finance Subcommittee this morning, places an additional burden on low-income riders, while the corporations behind the new fare collection system will make more than $288 million in profits and overhead costs.  

MBTA fares already place a heavy burden on low-income riders, who make up about 40% of riders and pay more, as a percentage of household income, to ride the MBTA than wealthier riders. Most low-income riders have no access to discounted fares and would see their transportation costs escalate with a new surcharge. The impact would be especially bad for families who could no longer share a Charlie Card because the MBTA plans to require each rider to have their own pass. 

The $3 surcharge is part of a move to the controversial, expensive, and much-delayed  ‘automated fare collection’ system outsourced to billionaire corporations Cubic and John Laing. Cubic fare payment systems have a long track record of overcharging riders and other problems. In late 2019 and early 2020, New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) riders reported being double charged when entering the subway using OMNY on their mobile devices. In Chicago, multiple class-action lawsuits were brought against Cubic with claims that riders were not properly credited funds on their fare cards, were double charged, or were charged fees for ‘phantom rides.’

To date, the MBTA has refused to provide relief to low-income riders, while paying close to a billion dollars, including $288 million in profit and overhead, to the wealthy corporations in charge of outsourced fare collection. Before raising fees on riders, the MBTA should re-examine its fare collection contract, and adopt a low-income fare that would save low-income people millions.” 


About Public Transit Public Good Coalition: 

Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit to learn more.

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