By Ken MacLeod

BOSTON (CBS) – The MBTA and Keolis are trying to crack down on fare evaders costing the Commuter Rail millions of dollars. But will it create more harm than good?

Freeloaders are a monster problem for Keolis, which runs the Commuter Rail, and also for the T. Combined, they estimate they lose tens of millions of dollars every year to commuters who don’t pay for their rides.

So beginning in the next couple of weeks, Keolis is expanding something it tested last fall. Ticket checkers will be in the doorways demanding to see commuters paper or e-tickets before letting them onto the train platform.

platforms Commuters Unhappy Ticket Checkers Will Return To Platforms

Commuter Rail platform at North Station (WBZ-TV)

Many commuters complained that this effort created a bottleneck and added to the stress of their trip.

“It’s stressful enough with all the trains being cancelled and late, or delayed,” a woman said. “And then they bottleneck us to get home.”

Besides — they argue — conductors check their tickets again once onboard the train.

But Keolis insists the move is needed to reduce fare evasion so the checks will begin at the Back Bay station in early March then North Station and finally at South Station in May.

Commuters WBZ-TV spoke with are not especially happy.

“It’s typical MBTA stupidity. They have absolutely no clue what they’re doing. They focus on the most irrelevant thing and that’s what they worry about,” one man said.

“I get it, I understand why they’re doing it, it’s a pain,” a woman said.

“I think it’s crazy but I guess they have to do what they got to do. We’re not going to win either way,” another woman said.

Also expanding in the coming weeks is a pilot program where conductors using handheld devices can take credit card payments for tickets on board the train.

Eventually, Keolis wants to install electronic fare gates at its three major stations but there’s no timetable for that.

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