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MBTA Riders Face Fare Hikes As High As 43 Percent

BOSTON — The MBTA has proposed fare hikes as high as 43 percent as well as service reductions in an effort to close a projected $161 million budget gap for the 2013 fiscal year.

Under one scenario (PDF) unveiled Tuesday by state transportation officials, a bus ride with a CharlieCard could jump from $1.25 to $1.75 while a CharlieCard subway ride could jump from $1.70 to $2.40. Parking fees would also go up 28 percent.

Under a second scenario (PDF), fare increases would be slightly more modest (35 percent), with the cost of a CharlieCard bus ride rising to $1.50 and a CharlieCard subway ride rising to $2.25. This scenario would include more service cuts. Parking fees would go up 20 percent.

If implemented, they would be the agency’s first fare hikes in five years.

Both scenarios would eliminate ferry service, commuter rail service after 10 p.m. and on weekends, and weekend service on the Mattapan Line and the Green Line’s E branch.

Officials say they will hold 20 public hearings this spring before announcing any final decisions. Any fare hikes would go into effect on July 1.

Stuart Spina, the T Riders Union chair, says the changes are short-sighted and don’t address the T’s ballooning debt.

“Either way you’re just going to have to keep raising fares and then cutting service until you’re left with only a rush hour service that only a handful of people can afford,” Spina said.

State transit officials have said fare increases are “almost impossible” to avoid.

“We’re reasonably confident, or confident I should say, that both scenarios account for a drop in ridership, but they can ultimately ensure that we’re closing the budget gap for next year,” said Transportation Secretary Richard Davey.

Spina says it’s up to lawmakers to find a way to fully fund the transportation system.

“The T has done a really reasonable job of looking at internal efficiencies but kind of gotten to the point where you guys need to step up and actually talk about, how are we going to sustainably fund our transportation network?” he said.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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