State House News Service

MBTA Officials Outline Fare Hike Plans

BOSTON — MBTA fares will increase by between 4 and 7 percent on nearly all service options, rising 10 cents for bus and subway rides, according to a plan officials will present to the public.

The average 5 percent fare increase would go into effect July 1, generating between $20 million and $24.5 million in new revenue and helping the Transportation Department meet the new requirement for producing a larger portion of its own revenue – which was part of the 2013 law raising gas and tobacco taxes to pay for transportation investments.

Students and people with disabilities will receive some breaks. Fares for The Ride door-to-door transit service will remain unchanged, while the MBTA will offer a seven-day student pass for $26 – a $2 discount from the current cost of a seven-day pass. The T will also offer a five-day student pass for the same $26 price, which is a $1 increase.

MBTA General Manger Beverly Scott said the idea is to allow parents to limit their children’s MBTA travel to weekdays. The passes are only available for purchase through schools.

Strategic Initiatives Senior Director Charles Planck said the fare increases would have an impact on ridership of less than 1 percent, or 2.8 million to 3.8 million trips. After a 23 percent fare increase in 2012, the MBTA did not see as large a drop-off in ridership as it had expected.

The single-ride fares for students and seniors will go up 5 cents each. People using a disposable Charlie Ticket, which is more costly per ride than the reusable Charlie Card, will see their subway fares go up by 15 cents while Charlie Ticket bus fares will increase by 10 cents.

Monthly passes for the commuter rail will go up between $5 and $17, according to Planck. A summary shows commuter boat fares going up $13 per month. The Link pass for bus and subway will increase from $70 to $75. Commuter rail trips will increase by 10 cents to 50 cents depending on the distance traveled.

Before the new fares go into effect, MBTA officials will hold meetings throughout the service area.

“I really don’t want people coming in here saying, ‘We didn’t get a chance to talk at those meetings,’” said Massachusetts Transportation Board Chairman John Jenkins. He said, “Err on the side of having too many meetings.”

When they raised taxes to fund transportation in 2013, the House and Senate required MassDOT to become more self-sustaining, while also limiting MBTA fare increases to no more than 5 percent every two years. MassDOT has also proposed hiking RMV fees for driving tests, vehicle inspections and registration.

“I think one of our goals should be to provide one of the most cost-efficient transportation systems possible,” said board member Dominic Blue, who said fare increases should be a last-resort.

The MBTA’s proposed fiscal year 2015 budget includes 284 new personnel, including 133 to operate a pilot program of weekend service into the early morning. The new budget will also include more people to oversee the commuter rail contract, which was won by Keolis Commuter Services.

The MBTA is turning a corner on debt, Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Davis told the board members.

“We’ll actually pay off more debt than we’ll issue over the next five years,” Davis said.

In the coming days, the MBTA is also instituting a new policy, allowed by an arbitrator’s award, that requires operators to spend 10 hours off the job in between shifts, which is up from a mandatory six hours off the clock, Davis said.

The budget also calls for a climate change specialist who will assess the system’s level of hurricane awareness, Davis said. He said in 1996 flooding of the Muddy River inundated the tunnels around Kenmore Station, requiring $15 million in repairs.

“We believe that we need to start looking at additional ways to protect our assets in the event there were to be another storm,” said Davis, who said there is a federal grant program.

Davis said there is a “long-term strategy” to remove cash from the system, and a shorter term goal of repairing fare boxes in the subway system and on buses.

“I’m seeing too many fare gates out of service and too many bus fare boxes out of service,” said Davis.

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  • jefe68

    I don’t have any problems with fair hikes. What I have a problem with is how lousy the MBTA is in terms of making the service better to justify the hikes.
    I live in Hyde Park and the new Fairmont line is a joke. It’s not promoted and has multiple cancelations a week. I was on the Orange line last week and all the cars were old, rusty and stank. The MBTA should get their act together.

    • Johan Corby

      To be fair, the Fairmont line isn’t operated by the MBTA. It’s run by MCBR who are actually on their way out. As for the rest of the system, it always seems to be a chicken and egg thing: they need more money to make improvements, but no one is willing because they see how awful the T can be sometimes.

      Recently the Red Line seems to be a complete mess, but the way they culled many of the stops on some of the major bus lines (specifically the 66) has done wonders for efficiency and speed.

      As it stands we still have one of the cheapest public transit systems in the country and in most of the western world. Maybe that’s part of the problem.

      • jefe68

        Sorry, but the MBTA is the one that collects the fairs. I can use my Charlie Card on the Fairmont line. My point is, that Hyde Park Readeville, Mattapan and other areas that are in Boston receive less or subpar service than Newton, which is not even part of Boston.

        As I said, I don’t mind paying more. I would like the MBTA to at least have better service for the communities, which by the way are overwhelmingly minority, that need them as well.

  • J__o__h__n

    I’d be happy to pay the increased fare if the increase matched increases to the gas tax. The T should raise the fare $0.25 cents per ride and not raise the monthly passes. Occasional riders will not be burdened by a slight increase but the total money raised would be significant.

  • J__o__h__n

    “while the MBTA will offer a seven-day student pass for $26 – a $2 discount from
    the current cost of a seven-day pass. The T will also offer a five-day student
    pass for the same $26 price, which is a $1 increase.” — Why would anyone pay the same money for only five day service as seven?

  • josh manchester

    I know for a fact that when I take the T on the Newburyport/Rockport line, half the time riders aren’t even charged. This could be a significant contributor to the loss of money. I don’t see the MBTA magically rising from debt from a petty fare increase, when like jefe said they need to first get their act together. A few internal adjustments may be what is best, instead of placing the burden on ridership. Half of the money that should be made is lost due to insufficient payment collections. Our public transportation should be revamped to become more appealing for commuters. It is almost becoming more economic for me to purchase a car to commute. There is no reason that driving should be more appealing than taking the train, especially with carbon emissions and climate change looming overhead.

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