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MBTA Proposals Raise Rates, Reduce Service

The two scenarios would increase fares by either 35 or 43 percent.

As the MBTA struggles with a growing budget gap, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation today released two MBTA service proposals that would not only raise rates, but also include some service reductions or eliminations.

According to information released on a Mass.gov blog, one scenario proposes an overall fare increase of 43 percent, while the other scenario suggests a 35 percent fare increase. 

The proposals look to close a projected $161 million budget gap for fiscal year 2013, the statement said. 

Under the first scenario (a 43 percent increase) a bus trip would go from the current $1.25 Charlie Card fare to $1.75. A rapid transit Charlie Card fare would increase from $1.70 to $2.40. Parking will also increase 28 percent.

The second scenario (a 35 percent increase) would raise fares for a bus Charlie Card from $1.25 to $1.50 and rapid transit Charlie Card from $1.70 to $2.25. Parking fares would increase by 20 percent.

"While the MBTA continues to identify and adopt strict measures to close the budget gap, less costly ways of doing business and additional revenue-generating measures are necessary," said MassDOT Transportation Secretary and CEO Richard Davey in the online statement. "I am confident with the public’s involvement in this process we can review the study, propose recommendations, and together generate new revenue to continue the progress the MBTA has made in serving its customers.”  

In addition, both scenarios include service eliminations or reductions to the Commuter Rail, bus, light rail, ferry and THE RIDE service area. 

The MassDOT statement says 20 public meetings will be held over the next several months to discuss the proposals. A final recommendation will be made in the spring, with new fares and service changes implemented on July 1, 2012.

A 74-page MBTA analysis of the two proposals is attached to this post as a PDF.

Ryan Grannan-Doll (Editor) January 03, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I have VERY strong feelings on this subject. The T does not need additional money from riders. It needs additional money from state coffers. For years, the Legislature has grossly underfunded the MBTA while mandating it expands, i.e., do more with less. According to a Wikipedia article, the MBTA i partly funded by 1 percent of sales tax revenues. So if revenues drop, so does funding. Instead, Legislators should be funding the MBTA just like any other state agency, guaranteeing it has sufficient operational funding.
khluvr621 January 03, 2012 at 06:22 PM
The second scenario would be a little higher of round-trip cash-on-board of what I used to pay in Hawaii ($2.50/one way, with free transfers). With both proposals, there's no definition of "Charlie Card". Per the website, it advertises it as "Get the Plastic CharlieCard and Save!". If raised, it matches or goes over the cash-on-board fee and therefore doesn't make sense. I have very strong feelings pertaining to the service eliminations/cutbacks. Aside from the 70 route (which is about a mile away), I depend on the 556 and 59 (558 at times). Toss those away & I have no in & out of my area. I'm praying on Proposal one so deeply and to the heart since at least the West suburbs will still have *some* method of getting around.
Adam January 03, 2012 at 06:27 PM
If fares go up, the gas tax should go up as well.
MoonBeamWatcher January 03, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Vote with your feet! WALK to work, organize like the attack on Verizon and Bank of America! When the "Charlie Card" was introduced with a cast of hundreds to explain it I could not believe EVERYONE ROLLED over and took it likea good little lap dog! Took away the "FREE" ride from St. Mary's to Cleveland Circle, reduced service and increased fares. A 40 minute walk or bicycle ride to the "Financial District" would have got that BS re-thought quickly!
Ryan Grannan-Doll (Editor) January 03, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Why should that be the case?
WallSmart January 03, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Net, net, bottom line the meetings will be held, riders will protest and the fares will increase but by about half of the proposed amount. The MBTA follows the same strategy every time they want to raise fares. That being said the bus and subway fares will still be a bargain compared to other cities with comparable services.
khluvr621 January 03, 2012 at 07:12 PM
BOA/Verizon proposals isn't on the same line as this. This isn't just fare hiking, it's also eliminating/cutting back routes. In regards to the banks/phone companies, it would pretty much relate if they took away an important feature to the customer, such as online banking, low interest rates, or wiping out debit cards in general. The bus routes included in the proposals are the first half of my IB trip to Boston. Getting back home.. I'm left in the middle of nowhere. This is not comparable to adding monthly fees to debit cards.
James January 03, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Yeah, walk twelve miles a day, round trip, in the dead of February. You're watching more than moonbeams there, sunshine.
Adam January 03, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Ryan, it goes to your point about subsidies. Public transit users shouldn't be expected to foot more of the bill while road users haven't had to pay an increase in the gas tax since 1991 (actually less, if you consider improvements in MPG) Plus, I think there were proposals to have the gas tax help fund the MBTA. http://bit.ly/w4o2VT
Adam January 03, 2012 at 08:44 PM
In MoonBeam's defense, when I lived in Brookline, I used to walk home from Lechmere Square. It was faster than taking the T.
khluvr621 January 03, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Adam, I do 1/4 of my grocery shopping at the old Super 88 at Packard Corner. From Waltham, would you still do that for a grocery run?
Adam January 03, 2012 at 09:55 PM
James, absolutely not. Just an anecdote.
Wendy Schapiro January 03, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I'm with WallSmart on this one: the MBTA will put these two figures out there then actually raise the fares less than that, thus making the public feel as if they have somehow won something. And the reduction in service will be explained by the lesser raise. Same...stuff, different day.
Christine January 04, 2012 at 05:27 AM
It is preposterous to once again talk of hiking fares without at least improving service in some way, but instead the infamous T will REDUCE, reduce service. Don't they have any more imagination than that? How about doubling the increase they're thinking of, but improving service that is so badly needed. They should be embarrassed that they can't add 2 + 2.
Cory Gudwin January 04, 2012 at 03:31 PM
No fare hikes without union concessions. MBTA work and pay rules are completely absurd. Time to come back to reality.
WallSmart January 04, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Out of curiuosity Mr. Gudwin, exactly which "work and pay rules" are you referring to?
Devil January 05, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Hikes are inevitable at this point. Service reductions could be disastrous. Think of the crowded trolleys, trains and buses!
Estey Silva January 05, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Hi Melanie, thanks for the timely article. I can understand why the MBTA needs to be responsible in terms of settling long-standing debts, etc. I have yet to find out if the monthly T pass will be increasing in price as well, and I'm so curious, as I buy this for my commute every month.
ctp January 05, 2012 at 04:31 PM
I looked at the T's presentation, at http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/About_the_T/Fare_Proposals_2012/Finance%20Committee%20Presentation%20-%20Fare%20and%20Service%20Proposals%20Overview.pdf, and there's nothing about the passes, which is odd. Also no specifics on which bus lines are getting hit, which is important for Proposal 2, where the cuts apparently affect almost a quarter of the ridership (less so for Proposal 1). What I did find, though, is that E Line service is slated to be discontinued on the weekends, under both proposals. A bit important for JP residents to know, I think. Surprised that it wasn't reported in this article, frankly -- did the writer or editor review the actual proposals before posting? It also _looks_ like they're cutting all ferry routes for the T, which is pretty harsh. Also, no weekend service on the commuter rail. Yeesh. Funny they don't mention stuff like that in their press releases, which is probably why we didn't read about it in the Patch either.
ctp January 05, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Whoops. For some reason, the Patch software logged me in as my VERBOTEN ANONYMOUS EVIL ID when I loaded the site today. Sorry about that.
Isaac Kriegman January 05, 2012 at 07:44 PM
You are exactly right! T-riders pay enormous subsidies to maintain millions of miles of roads, lights, signs, etc., regardless of whether they use the roads at all. T-riders foot the bill for car drivers. Conservatives claim that the T gets huge subsidies, and should be self sufficient, ignoring the fact that the car/road system gets much more subsidies and costs vastly more per person/mile than the car/road system. If the subsidies were apportioned fairly, the T would be free, because every person who rides the T saves the state money because it can spend less on expanding and maintaining road capacity, and roads are a vastly more expensive way to move people around. But conservatives have won the ideological debate and convinced people that somehow giving the T its fair share of tax revenues is communist.
Bill Davidson January 06, 2012 at 12:28 AM
My wife thinks a 10% hike is a more reasonable number than 35% or 43%. I'm not sure that amount would do much to solve the MBTA's budget problems. However, a smaller number would be easier for commuters to accept. I think Mr. Davey needs to consider "additional revenue-generating measures" that go beyond fare hikes and service cuts. There's certainly more space in MBTA stations and vehicles for advertising. They could also offer businesses the opportunity to sponsor vehicle improvements (repairs to individual subway cars, trolley cars, and buses) in exchange for naming plaques similar to those seen on chair backs in theaters or "adopt-a-highway" signs. Though it might not raise a lot of money, it would remind the Boston business community that public transportation is valued by its customers.
MoonBeamWatcher January 06, 2012 at 02:48 AM
STOP the unfunded expansion to the suburbs - to suggest reducing service and increasing the cost of rides is OUTRAGIOUS. For 8 years I rode my bicycle to Government Center ("Scolly Square") and only had to use the "T" 3 or 4 times because of heavy rain and winds. 25 minutes from Coolidge Corner via Charles River over the MGH foot bridge. Only drawback I awoke before arriving at work.
WallSmart January 06, 2012 at 02:45 PM
"Only drawback I awoke before arriving at work." Yeah, it's hell being awake at work.
Ro Harkins January 06, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Where can someone find a list of the bus, subay and trains they plan to end or cut back. It would be nice to see the list so that people can understand the full effect it will have on there commute.
Cindy Lacey January 09, 2012 at 05:52 PM
go to the mbta website and click on the box near the center of the main page entitled "join the discussion". there is a .pdf document with the 2 proposals listed, including fare increases, pass prices under the increase, and proposed service cuts. Note that under proposal 2, it looks like all bus service for the suburbs is to be eliminated. If we pay an assessment at the municipal level to support the T, we should take it back and set up our own bus service. Clearly this proposal is intended to scare us into giving them a blank check. I do agree that pay and benefit savings should be investigated internally before cutting service. After all, WE are paying them to transport us. They work for us, not vice versa, although it is hard to tell from their presentation. I do not see any documentation of costs for the various routes versus revenue to support their proposal to cut the services.
Melanie Graham (Editor) January 09, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Hi Cindy -- Just as a quick note, we included this .pdf in our media section above if you'd like to browse through the details in the two proposals.
WallSmart January 10, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Looks like times are tough in DC as well. Guess you can run but you can't hide. The DC Metro proposes to increase bus and rail fares by about 5 percent and raise parking rates to overcome a $116 million shortfall in its next operating budget. The actual amount of increases would vary by trip, but riders who use paper Farecards would face the biggest change. Whether going two stops or 10, they would pay one-way flat fares: $6 during rush hour, $4 in off-peak times. For a group traveling together, hailing a taxi might quickly become more palatable. The last fare increase was two years ago, and it was the broadest in Metro’s history. An increase this year is likely to be unpopular because the system struggles daily with service disruptions — some planned, and others not. Riders face delays because of train malfunctions and other issues. In the past three weeks, brake parts have fallen off two rail cars. The proposed budget would increase rail fares in rush-hour periods by an average of less than 5 percent for those using Smar­Trip cards, according to Metro. The maximum peak fare would rise from $5 to $5.75. Rail riders would also see changes in off-peak fares. The base fare would increase to $1.70, from $1.60, a trip. The maximum off-peak fare would be $3.50.

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