Logo   MBTA Subway, Bus, Train & Boat Fares
The way you pay your fare affects how much you'll pay.


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA, or "T" for short) operates Boston's subway train, city bus, Commuter Rail and some commuter boat systems.

On March 7, 2016, the T announced that new fare rates would go into effect on July 1, 2016 and remain in effect through the end of 2018:

Fares 2016

To June 30

From July 1

Rapid Transit, CharlieCard

$2.10 $2.25

Rapid Transit, CharlieTicket/ Cash

$2.65 $2.75

Local Bus, CharlieCard

$1.60 $1.70

Local Bus, CharlieTicket/Cash

$2.10 $2.00

Rapid Transit = subway trains. Fares for express buses on longer-distance routes may be higher.

Here's how to pay the fares on these systems.

Subway & Bus

Charlie Ticket

The Charlie Ticket is a paper stored-value fare ticket with a magnetic strip, sold from ticket vending machines, that can be loaded and re-loaded at ticket vending machines with credit for fares. To use the ticket, you stick it into a slot in the fare gate, it pops up at the top of the fare gate, you retrieve it, and the gate opens so you can enter the system.

Passengers using Charlie Tickets pay normal MBTA subway and bus cash fares. Transfers between local buses are free. The Charlie Ticket is the simplest way to use the system for a few rides and/or for a limited time, but the Charlie Card is cheaper.

Charlie Card

The Charlie Card is a plastic stored-value RFID fare card that can be loaded with credit at ticket vending machines, or online (if you link your Charlie Card to a credit or debit card).

You tap your Charlie Card to a sensor on the turnstile to access the trains.

With a Charlie Card, you pay less per trip, and you can transfer freely between local buses and rapid transit lines.

Charlie cards are not sold in all stations, only in MBTA sales locations. More...

Charlie on the MTA

The name "Charlie" comes from the popular song "Charlie on the MTA" about a man riding the Boston subways who paid the fare to get on the train, transferred to another line, then discovered there was an additional fare to be paid at his destination stop—and he had no more money.

He was obliged to stay on the train forever....

The extra fares collected at distant stations are a thing of the past, but the song was so popular that the name of its "hero" was adopted for the MBTA's digital fare cards.

Commuter Rail & Boats

Unfortunately, Charlie Tickets and Charlie Cards are not yet accepted on MBTA Commuter Rail trains, Inner Harbor Ferries, or Commuter Boats. You must buy separate tickets for each ride, or a special pass. The amount of your fare depends on how far you ride (in a zone system).

The easiest way to buy Commuter Rail tickets is via MBTA mTicket on your mobile phone, tablet or iPod. You download the app, input data about your credit card, buy your ticket before boarding the train, then activate the ticket upon boarding. It's fast and easy. More...

If you need a paper ticket, try to buy it from a ticket office or vendor (if there is one at or near the station) before boarding the train. If there is a ticket sales location open at the station where you board, and if you do not buy your ticket there, you will pay a surcharge of $3 when you buy your ticket on the train.

If there is no ticket office at or near the station where you board, you will not have to pay the surcharge. More...

Car Parking at MBTA Stations

The MBTA owns more than 50,000 off-street parking places in New England and rents them at good prices to travelers using its system. If you're visiting Boston, Cambridge, or any other city or town served by the MBTA systems, you can probably save money by parking outside the city center and riding the train, bus or boat into the center. More...

—by Tom Brosnahan

Commuter Rail


City Bus


Boston Transportation

Finding Your Way in Boston

Boston Hotels

Boston Restaurants

What to See & Do in Boston

About Boston

Around Boston


Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Charlie Card for MBTA Subways & Buses, Boston MA

An MBTA Charlie Card.

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