BOSTON The MBTA Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a 23 percent average fare hike for riders, along with modest cuts in service.
The 4-to-1 vote capped months of often-fierce debate over how to close a projected $159 million deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1.
Before voting, the board heard from dozens of angry opponents of the fare hikes, the first in more than five years, who said the fare increases and service cuts would harm seniors, students and low-income people who rely on public transportation.
Kristina Egan, director of the group Transportation for Massachusetts, says that despite the T’s efforts to limit the impact of the cost hikes, they’ll be hard for some riders to bear.
“We think the fare increase is still going to have a disproportionate impact on low-income people, particularly those on fixed incomes,” Egan said.
After the vote, several opponents shouted “shame on you,” to the board.
Opponents also demanded that Gov. Deval Patrick and state lawmakers work to find a long-term fix to the chronically underfunded system.
MBTA officials said the budget would only be a one-year fix unless the Legislature comes up with a solution.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom