MBTA unveils 33 percent fare hike proposal

On March 13, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

The MBTA is faced with some unappealing choices in order to remain solvent. ~Photo by Harry Kane.

The MBTA is faced with some unappealing choices in order to remain solvent. – Photo by Harry Kane.

By Harry Kane

A 33 percent increase in transportation fares, or a significant reduction in transit service may be implemented after July 1 unless additional funding is provided by a state bailout.

Several options to alleviate an estimated $140 million deficit crippling the MBTA were proposed during a committee meeting last week. The most controversial is the potential 33 percent fare hike.

Somerville commuters who use the T will feel the impact of the fare increase in their wallets if the bailout from the Statehouse is unsuccessful.

Alderman Jack Connolly shares the frustration of the everyday T commuter.

If the fares are increased, Connolly said, people might visit Davis Square less often. Higher fares could translate to less ridership on the T.

“Instead of coming twice a week, those trips might become limited, might be once every two weeks,” he said.

From his office window on College Street, Connolly can see T passengers coming and going for business and pleasure.

“There’s only so much discretionary income that people have,” Connolly said. “If that has to be eaten away by increased costs and basic needs like basic transportation, those folks are going to have no other recourse.”

The new transportation fare hike is yet another attempt at coping with the economic downturn, a crisis that has spiraled out of control, saddling the bay area with a chronic transportation dilemma.

During 2012 there was a 23 percent increase in fares. This year the MBTA needs more.

Currently the cost of riding the bus is $1.50, and $2 on the subway. Under the 33 percent fare hike, both will be increased. The bus fare and subway fare would rise to $2 and $2.60, respectively.

A second solution would lessen the fare hikes to 15 percent, but would include the elimination of some nighttime and weekend transit service. In this scenario approximately 30 bus routes would go out of service within the bay area.

Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration recently proposed an increase in state income taxes to help pay for education and transportation programs. The $1.9 billion in revenue generated from a change in taxes would easily provide a fix to the MBTA crisis.

On Tuesday, March 12 a statewide coalition of united T riders convened at the State House to rally for investment in the MBTA.

Diana Bell is a senior organizer for the Community Labor Union (CLU) and was at the rally on Tuesday. Bell is also a representative of Public Transit – Public Good, an organization that aims at making public transportation affordable and accessible for everyone.

“Bottom line is that these sort of short-term regressive fixes, that these fare hikes represent, are fundamentally not working,” Bell said.

According to Bell, if fare increases and service cuts are implemented, there will be a “devastating effect” on low-income T riders, commuters with special needs, the elderly and the disabled.

Leader of the TRiders Union, Stuart Spina, disagrees with the 33 percent fare hike.

“We cannot afford to continue putting this on the backs of the most vulnerable riders and workers,” Spina said. “We need legislation that fully funds public transit across the state.”

There’s no guarantee of a bailout, according to MassDOT officials.

If the proposed state tax increases are not well received by legislative leaders, the 66 year-old MBTA organization will be forced to make drastic cuts or charge higher fares in order to rectify the budget shortfall.



6 Responses to “MBTA unveils 33 percent fare hike proposal”

  1. mememe says:

    “Somerville commuters who use the T will feel the impact of the fare increase in their wallets if the bailout from the Statehouse is unsuccessful.”

    Really? And the impact would not hit the wallet if the bailout came from the state house? Money would just appear, not need to be raised in higher taxes? The money is going to come from somewhere because the MBTA is a corrupt, poorly run branch of the gov’t.

    Spina wants people living in western Ma to foot the bill for something they never use, so that she can keep getting subsidized rides.

    Fare increases, right or wrong, should be discussed in a more honest light.

  2. Ray Spitzer says:

    There we go again…

  3. MarketMan says:

    mememe: Actually, I do think the MBTA should be sudsidized by the entire state of Mass, even if some areas don’t use it. The entire state benefits when the Boston metro region has a good transportation system. Boston’s economy (and therefore Massachusetts’ economy) benefits from effecient transportation. But I aree that the MBTA is poorly run. Our political leaders have not been willing to do something real about that.

  4. EmmaB says:

    Last time they rose fares and predicted ridership would drop, it didn’t budge an inch. If you rely solely on the T to get to work or go about your day you have no choice but to buy a weekly or monthly pass anyway, so the number of trips is unaffected.

    On the other hand, if you only ride the T occasionally and can afford a car to get around the rest of the time, I highly doubt a few cents is going to make much of a difference.

    People in Mass take for granted how cheap the T already is for its size compared to many other transit systems, and despite the fare hike it’s still much much cheaper than getting a car.

  5. A. Moore says:

    If they charged 100% it still won’t make a dent in the debt it has. We have lined many pockets well with the T here. And as usual, who gets to pay for it.

  6. MarketMan says:

    EmmaB: I disagree. Many people, including my wife, own a car but choose to commute by T because it is cheaper than gas+parking and doesn’t take that much longer to get where she is going. Once the monthly T pass gets expensive enough, paying for gas+parking to shave 15 minutes off her commute each way will be more attractive. Yes the T is cheaper than some transit systems, but most of the other transit systems offer much better service in terms of coverage, speed, and reliability.

    I would love for the T to run as efficiently as the DC metro, but the DC metro is so expensive that many people actually have a hard time affording it. Most of the people using the metro during peak times are those that have employers that pay/subsidize the price. Public transit should be accessible to the masses.

Leave a Reply