Transfers with Senior / Reduced Fare Charlie Cards

We’ve often been asked about transfers when using a Senior or Reduced Fare Charlie Card. A transfer is when you change from one vehicle to another, such as taking a bus north to the subway, then taking the subway east to your destination.

Please note! If you need help with your MBTA reduced fare Charlie Card or have questions about these cards, please call the MBTA at (617) 222-3200. TTY users can call (617) 222-5854 or (617) 222-5146.

Some systems charge such journeys as two independent trips, costing you twice as much as you’d like to pay! Fortunately, the MBTA has you covered. Here’s what we learned from talking with the helpful folks at MBTA customer support.

Can I change from a bus to the train/subway/trolley, and vice versa?

Yes, you can transfer from bus to train and vice versa and be charged for only one trip.

  • If you transfer from train to bus, your card won’t be charged any additional money.
  • However, if you transfer from bus to train, you’ll be charged the difference in fare (currently $0.25).

Can I make a round trip (“there and back again”), or make a stop on the way, and pay for only one trip?

That depends both on the path you take and on how long you take between changes.

The biggest consideration is that you can’t transfer from one bus to another with the same route number. For example, if you take the 66 bus from Brookline Village to Coolidge Corner, then get off and go to Trader Joe’s for 15 minutes, then get back on a 66 bus and continue on to Cambridge, you’ll be charged for two rides.

This restriction also means that a round trip journey where you take the same line both ways is charged as 2 one-way trips. For example, if you take the 66 bus from Brookline Village to Coolidge Corner, shop for half an hour, and then catch the 66 from Coolidge Corner back to Brookline Village, you’ll be charged for 2 one-way trips.

Also, there’s a 2 hour limit on transfers. So you can change lines more than once (from one line to another) within a two hour period and be charged for only one trip.

Can I get help planning my journey or with questions over the phone, communicating with a real, live human being?

Yes! If you have questions about a specific journey, please call MBTA customer support. They’re very helpful! At the prompts, press…

  • 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, then
  • 2 to speak to a representative, then
  • 1 to talk about Charlie Cards, then
  • 4 for info about fares, including Charlie Cards.

TTY users can call (617) 222-5854 or (617) 222-5146.

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