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T restricts the sale of subway tokens


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T restricts the sale of subway tokens

By Mac Daniel, Globe Staff, 12/30/2003

Five days before the MBTA's fare increase takes effect, T officials yesterday limited the purchase of subway tokens as commuters apparently were buying in bulk to avoid the higher prices.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials could not say yesterday how many tokens have been sold during the last weeks of the year. But they said a number of purchases of 100 or more tokens were made at the current rate of $1 each.

The cost of a subway token increases to $1.25 Saturday, but tokens purchased before then at the lower price will be honored.

MBTA officials said they imposed the limits to keep the T's supply of tokens from being depleted.

With the higher prices, a $40 roll of tokens will be worth $50 Saturday.

The limits restrict purchases to two rolls of 40, depending on the number of rolls available at each booth, said Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the T. Toll collectors running short may decide to limit sales to a single roll, he said. "The T reserves the right to lower the limit further if deemed necessary," he said.

T officials said they don't expect riders to resell the tokens. "The majority of people buying tokens now are doing so for themselves and not to resell them," Pesaturo said.

There were other signs that riders were moving to lock in savings.

On Dec. 10, the T's cutoff for buying an annual pass, 1,400 had been sold, nearly double the 765 sold in 2002. Annual passes, which cost from $400 to $1,700, could be purchased at the old fare rate, allowing riders a year of commuting at the old rate.

At Downtown Crossing yesterday, a steady stream of riders lined up from noon through 2 p.m. to buy T monthly passes. "Anything to save a buck," said one commuter, who declined to give his name. A January pass, sold at the current rate, must be purchased by Wednesday.The increase will affect February passes. Yesterday afternoon, those standing in a line that often stretched to 30 people said the line was even longer at 8:15 a.m.T officials said it's too early to calculate whether more monthly passes were sold in anticipation of the pending fare hike. At Downtown Crossing yesterday, some riders said they had stocked up on 12-ride combo tickets. Others were trying to buy more tokens.

"I wouldn't be buying them this far ahead normally," said Mary Hanifin of Malden.

Most in line, however, said they were unaware of the fare increase.

A woman who said she works at a downtown bank and identified herself only as Maria said she didn't know about the fare increase until yesterday morning.

"I don't like the idea," said the woman, who lives near Brigham Circle, "but what are you going to do about it, drive to work?"

When she found out later that her monthly pass would remain at the old rate for January, she was relieved. "Fantastic," she said.

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