MBTA Fare Collection

From nycsubway.org

As in New York, the earliest form of fare collection used by the Boston Elevated was the ticket-chopper system. Station agents, known as Collectors, were located in a copper clad wooden booth with a marble tray for handling cash. A cash drawer was located beneath the tray, and a drop safe in a back corner. Although the ticket-chopper system was soon replaced by four arm turnstyles, some of the original booths would survive into the 1980s.

As in New York, a five cent fare was in vouge from the very beginning until the 1940s. Boston's four arm turnstyles were arranged in sets of 2 to 7 with an iron pipe railing surroundng each unit. The turnstyle was covered by a wood panel above and by wood signs ("Enter Here"/"Exit") on the outer and inner sides. Each turnstyle contained a double ratchet mechanism and a roller and cam. The upper ratchet allowed the turnstyle to rotate clockwise when enough pressure was applied to push the roller out of its current notch. Once past the halfway point, the roller's force on the cam would help push mechanism to the next detent. The lower ratchet allowed counterclockwise rotation, but contained a deep notch every quarter turn where the pawl would seat, preventing further rotation in that direction until it was relased by a large (600 volt) solenoid. A cam switch would open the circuit to the solenoid after the arm started to turn deenergizing the solenoid, releasing the coin and allowing the pawl to engage the ratchet wheel until the next deep detent was reached, where the mechanism would again lock.

On the other side of the entry to the turnstyle was the coin mechanism, which accepted and validated the coin, energized the solenoid and dropped the coin into the vault below. Improper coins or tokens were dropped into a return slot above the vault. The vault itself was a bronze box with a cover which locked when closed. Empty vaults were delivered to the station daily by a crew from the Money Room who picked up the previous day's vaults. The starter or Inspector assigned to opening the station would load empty vaults into the bottom of the coin mechanisms, while the official present at closing would remove the full vaults, which would be forced closed by channels in the base of the unit. Counters on the turnstiles would be read to verify the count of the coins or tokens in the vault.

To the right of the main turnstyles would be two other means of entry, a pass gate for railway officials and employees, and a five arm brass turnstyle near the collector's booth for reduced fares. A large farebox (known as an S-Box) would sit next to the collectors booth. Money deposited into the S-Box would be counted by a standard fare box mechanism, and returned to the collector for reuse. Again, the total on the counter would be the difference between the money turned in by the collector, and his original change fund. The turnstyle would be released by a foot pedal, allowing the collector to accept transfers as well as cash fares.

At busy stations a second collector's booth and turnstyle (but no pass gate) would appear at the left end of the main battery of turnstyles. Very busy stations would also sport an additional S-Box attended by a gateman where exact fares could be deposited at a barrierless entry.

Less used entries (usually outbound) would have a high entry turnstyle (iron maiden), for exact fares, and several high exit turnstyles composed of interlocking iron bars which could turn in only one direction.

Despite the many advances in technology, the equipment present today performs the same function as in the past. Various designs of Perey Turnstyles perform the entry-exit function, while modern S-Boxes replace those described above. Collectors booths are now built to resist various weapons, but still have similar meager amenities.

One feature found in outlying areas was that the entire platform area was usually a paid area. Thus passengers entering on a streetcar, were not faced with a barrier. Such prepaid transfer stations were located at Ashmont, Fields Corner, Andrew, Broadway, Harvard, Forest Hills, Egleston, Dudley, Sullivan, Everett and Maverick Stations. Passengers entering from the street were routed through a fare collection area, while those riding buses at Fields Corner and Ashmont has separate 'busways' outside the prepaid area and were issued paper transfers.

Some of the rapid transit extensions of the more recent times have had unusual fare collection equipment for double entry fares or exit fares. These included Malden Center, Oak Grove and all the stations on the Braintree section of the Red Line. Double entry and additional exit fares are currently collected at Braintree, Quincy Adams and Quincy Center. Local riders in this area can get warrants good for a partial refund if they exit a station within their zone.

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By Gerry O'Regan.

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