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MBTA Calls For 23 Percent Fare Hike, Some Service Cuts

In this photo taken May 24, 2011, a commuter train leaves the MBTA station in Andover. (AP)

BOSTON — The MBTA is recommending an average 23 percent increase in bus and subway fares and some service reductions as part of a scaled-down plan to close the transit system’s deficit.

The fare hikes outlined Wednesday by acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis — the T’s first fare hikes in five years — are less drastic than earlier scenarios which called for increases of up to 43 percent and significant service cuts.

“We believe this proposal reflects what our customers told us,” said Transportation Secretary Richard Davey, “which was largely, ‘Please do not cut our service as best you can. Raise fares if you need to, but find a way to ensure that our service is preserved.’ ”

The plan also relies on legislative approval of about $60 million in one-time revenues, including a $51 million transfer from a trust fund of $29 vehicle inspection fees and $5 million from a current surplus in the state’s snow removal budget.

Under the final proposal being presented to the T’s Board of Directors for approval, fares for passengers using CharlieCards would rise from the current $1.25 to $1.50 for buses (20 percent increase) and from $1.70 to $2 for subways (18 percent increase). The monthly LinkPass would rise from $59 to a proposed $70.

The proposal seeks to eliminate four weekday bus routes — the 48, the 355, the 500 and the 710. A further 14 bus routes would be modified.

There is one Green Line branch which would be affected: on the E line, trains bound in the direction of Heath Street won’t go beyond Brigham Circle on Sundays.

The plan would save most weekend commuter rail service and ferry service. Both had earlier been targeted for elimination.

But the commuter rail’s weekend service would end on the Needham, Kingston/Plymouth and Greenbush lines.

The T would continue to operate its ferries, but fares would see a 35 percent increase.

“We are going to retain all ferry service except for weekend service to Quincy, which has very low ridership,” Davey said, “but we will be for all intents and purposes eliminating our subsidy for ferries.”

Cost of The RIDE, the service for the disabled, would rise from $2 to $4 in a newly created designated zone; a trip would cost $5 for service outside this service zone.

In its proposal Wednesday, the MBTA said its public meetings and hearings on fare and service changes drew nearly 6,000 attendees, and nearly 6,000 emails were sent to the T.

If approved, the MBTA’s proposals would take effect July 1.

Later Wednesday, Gov. Deval Patrick endorsed the plan of what he called “patches and plugs,” but said the state’s overall transportation funding system remains “broken” and in need of a long-term fix by the Legislature.

Davey too said he’s likely to be back next year talking about more fare increases and service cuts.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

– Here’s the MBTA’s proposal (on Scribd) (and see here for more detailed fare/service information from the T):

http://www.scribd.com/doc/87051083/Final-MBTA-Fare-Service-Proposal

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