Your basic ride on the T involves paying $2 at a Ticket Vending Machine at subway stations. You get a CharlieTicket that you use to get through the fare gates. Slide the CharlieTicket into the ticket slot. The gate will read your card and spit it back out on top of the machine for you to collect. The gates will then open up for you and let you on your merry way. When you exit the system, then you use the ticket to get out by feeding the ticket into the reader. This time the machine will not return the ticket to you, but it will open the gates to let you escape the T.
A ride on the bus is a little cheaper at $1.50. Payment can be made with those dreaded US dollar bills. I simply hate them. I love our Canadian loonies and toonies. Be prepared to wait and wrinkled old bills of George Washington keep being rejected.
If you are a visitor in Boston, I’d recommend purchasing the 7-Day Link Pass. You can purchase it from any of the T station ticket vending machines. It’s $15 and it allows unlimited travel on bus and subway for a continuous 7-day period. It’s really a smashing deal for what you get. A ride on the T, typically costs $2 per ride, so after 8 rides, you make up for cost of it there. You use the LinkPass exactly like the CharlieTicket. Remember to collect your LinkPass when you exit stations.
If you are a transit geek like me, then you may want to purchase your own CharlieCard. The CharlieCard is Boston’s transit smart card. I had a little trouble finding exactly where to buy my card. I was at Back Bay Station on the Orange Line near my hotel. I checked out all the ticket vending machines. They only sold individual CharlieTickets for single rides. I had to ask for a couple of people where I could buy the CharlieCard.
So if you are at Back Bay Station, you have to go to the where Amtrak ticketing booths are. The CharlieCards are available from the tellers on the far left under the Amtrak signage. That is the last place I thought to look to buy an MBTA fare product. Thumbs down on signage in this case.
A CharlieCard does not cost anything in itself. You just tell the teller how much you want to put on. I threw on $5 because I thought was a nice round number. I only used my CharlieCard once or twice while in Boston because I really want to get my money’s worth out of my LinkPass. However, with the CharlieCard, all your rides are discounted. The ride on the subway only deducts $1.70 for a subway ride and you get a free transfer to a local bus. On the bus, it costs $1.25 per ride. So there is great incentive for locals or long-time visitors to get a CharlieCard. As a transit geek, I just want to collect as many of these smart cards from around the world.