The Ride (MBTA)

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The Ride van in Lexington Center
The Ride vehicle in Lexington

The Ride (sometimes styled as THE RIDE) is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's paratransit program for people with physical, mental or cognitive disabilities that make it difficult or impossible to ride the MBTA's fixed-route bus, train, and ferry services. The program uses wheelchair accessible vans for door-to-door service; drivers are required to assist passengers to and from the vehicle. The Ride satisfies requirements under the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act for transit systems to provide services for those who cannot ride the fixed-route system.[1] The service began in April 1977 with two vehicles.[2]

Unlike fixed-route services, The Ride trips must be scheduled in advance (at least 24 hours ahead of time). Same-day trip requests, and those greater than 3/4 mile from fixed-route services, incur a surcharge.[1] The Ride does not use the CharlieCard; instead, passengers must set up an individual account with the MBTA.[1]

The Ride has attracted criticism in recent years for its high operating cost of over $65 (as 2016) per rider per trip and its inefficient service model. Which is based on a subsidiary price, passenger only pays between $2 and $3.50 per trip, the rest of the cost (between $61.50 and $63) are covered by the MBTA. [3][4]


The program is run by the MBTA, but actual service is contracted out to three separate companies and organizations in the Greater Boston area to run the service. The service uses the MBTA branding and the vans can largely be identified by color schemes with stripes running alongside the van. (However, GLSS also uses their own vans with their own branding in combination with MBTA-branded vans). All 3 companies can provide the service in the Boston area, when the passenger gets out of the Boston area is when the service becomes specificlly for one single company based on the passenger final destination, i.e. someone going from Boston to Dorchester (which is still part of Boston) could call any company, but someone traveling from Boston to Malden would have to call Greater Lynn Senior Services fot this trip; but someone going from Lynn to Newton will have to make a transfer between companies, because they don´t go to areas out of their designated service, for this example the passenger would be picked-up by GLSS and then transfer to a VTS vehicle to continue the trip.

The passenger has to call the company they need the service from, and arrange directly with them the trip, providing information about time and locations.

In 2017 the MBTA tried to consolidate the scheduling area in one place, so it created a call center for the all the calls regarding Pick-up, it is still in trial mode as (2018), and the company Veterans Transportation LLC continues to take their own scheduling calls directly, without passing trhu the MBTA call center.

North Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS) Blue
Northwest Veterans Transportation, LLC (VTS) Red
South National Express (NE) Green


The program has been criticized for its high cost to the MBTA, particularly since much of the MBTA was made accessible in the past three decades.[5] (All MBTA Bus routes and Orange Line stations are accessible, as are most Red line and Blue Line stations; about 75% of commuter rail stations and most high-ridership Green Line stations are accessible). During discussions of potential major fare increases and service cuts in 2013, the program's high cost per rider was cited as waste.


  1. ^ a b c "THE RIDE Paratransit Program". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  2. ^ "MBTA Marks The RIDE's 25 Years of Service" (PDF). TRANSReport. Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization. May 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 January 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  3. ^ Katz, Bob; et al. (December 2011). "RIDE Program Review – Final Report" (PDF). Financial Analysis and Control Technology Services LLC. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  4. ^ Quinn, Colleen (21 February 2012). "Inspector General recommends money savers for costly MBTA Ride program". MetroWest Daily News. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  5. ^ Wells, Jonathan (21 February 2011). "I-Team: 'The Ride' Breaking MBTA's Budget". CBS Boston. Retrieved 9 October 2011.

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