Local News

First few days of new fare gates at North Station pose a challenge to some commuters

Since the start of October, passengers have had to swipe to get in or out of the commuter rail platform.

The new fare gates in North Station for the Commuter Rail went online Oct. 1. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Passengers getting on or off the commuter rail at North Station are facing a new barrier this week — literally.

Since the start of the month, passengers entering or exiting the commuter rail platform have to tap, swipe or scan their tickets. 

The new machines are the result of a long-time request from customers, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said at last Thursday’s Board of Directors meeting, according to the Boston Herald. 

“One of the frequent issues is there are times when our conductors are not able to check all the tickets on a commuter rail train, and we frequently get feedback, particularly from folks who are monthly passholders,” Poftak said.


The gates are intended to eliminate platform-door ticket checks, improve fare collection and create a more consistent fare-paying experience across transit modes, according to the MBTA

New gates:

Maura Abernathy, who commutes to North Station from Lawrence three times a week, said that while she hasn’t faced significant delays from the new fare gates, the added step does add a challenge for some. 

“[The new gates] have been treating me fine because I have a pass, but I’ve seen other people not be able to get through and [MBTA staff]  just have to open it for them. It feels kind of pointless a little,” Abernathy said.

On Thursday, when Abernathy spoke with Boston.com, she struggled to get through the gates, repeatedly attempting to tap her card. 

She was not alone in this struggle Thursday morning. While many passengers breezed through the gates with no problems, some ran into issues. Snafus arose regardless of whether passengers were rushing through the gates at high volumes, or if just one or two were trickling through. 

“I’ve just seen them opening the gate a lot for people, [after] they show them their ticket,” Abernathy said. “It’s a change.”


Staff members standing by Thursday morning had to help people get in and out of the gated platform.

“Our customer service agents are focused on actively supporting our passengers as they learn how to use the new fare gates at North Station. Customer Service agents are on-site to answer any questions or resolve any issues related to ticketing,” the MBTA said in a statement sent to Boston.com

Since their installation the gates have been “operating well,” MBTA said in a statement, and thousands of passengers have successfully passed through the gates since Oct. 1. 

Passengers should hold onto their tickets for their entire trip, as they will be asked to show them several times — if going through North Station they will need them to enter or exit the platform, as well as to verify ticket zones on board, according to the MBTA.

Some passengers have spent the week battling against the new machines.

Some on Twitter have lamented the addition of a step to access restaurants inside the waiting area, which include the station’s second Dunkin’ Donuts.

The change riders have seen this week at North Station will also be coming to South and Back Bay stations, according to the MBTA. 


When passengers check their tickets at the new fare gates, no payment is deducted, according to the MBTA; rather the machines check for the ticket’s validity.


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