Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority employees might have to whip out their CharlieCards to get around.

A bill filed at the State House wants to cut all T employees’ privileges to “ride for free,” in an effort to save money for the ailing transit system.

But a T union representative said yesterday the MBTA would find more money by staffing stations where people sneak in and skip paying fares than by getting rid of the contract-negotiated detail.

“There is no abuse in the system and no real cost savings,” said Larry Kelly, a union delegate.

Members of the Boston Carmen’s Union, the T’s largest union, asked a committee to vote unfavorable action on the bill during a joint transportation hearing yesterday on Beacon Hill.


Boston Carmen’s Union Vice President James O’Brien said numbers released yesterday indicating millions of free rides have been taken by employees this year are not actual “rides,” but are “taps” of the access cards given to workers.

“[Taps] mean helping [customers] through, going to the restrooms,” explained O’Brien, who said T workers are on scene eight hours per day, going in and out of the stations, using a card 50 or more times.

The access cards are part of an employee’s compensation negotiated through labor agreements with 16 collective bargaining units, according to a T spokesman.

O’Brien said revoking the passes would micromanage that process.

While Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. William Straus agreed, he said any cost issue, no matter the dollar amount, is a big deal for the T today.

The proposal surfaced as the MBTA faces a $160 million deficit next fiscal year and officials look to raise fares ad cut services to close the budget gap.

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear.

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