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MBTA Ride Service To Pilot Means-Based Discount

Qualifying Ride customers will be eligible for a means-based fare structure, receiving a $1 discount on trips under a new pilot program that will begin at least by July.

A total of 600 customers will be eligible for the six-month pilot, which will cost $480,000, Mike Lambert, deputy transit administrator, said Thursday at a state transportation board meeting.

"We need to do this in a fiscally responsible manner coinciding with the budget process," said Acting Transportation Secretary Frank DePaola.

The pilot program did not require a vote by the state's Transportation Board, though some members voiced support and others questioned whether the goal of lowering fares for low-income riders with disabilities could be accomplished another way.

"We don't know the economic profile of our customers," said Lambert, who said if the vast majority of Ride customers qualify, the MBTA could "just roll back the fare."

The Ride is a door-to-door paratransit service available to people who qualify. The pilot will be open to 600 people who receive income of up to 300 percent more than the federal poverty line and participate in a public benefit program.

In 2012, the MBTA raised fares on the program from $2 to $4 with a $5 premium fare for trips outside a service area and for same-day reservations. The Ride's ridership dropped 20 percent, which was double the expected impact, said Lambert. The discount would not apply to the premium for same-day reservations.

The Ride is available to those who are unable to use the MBTA's system of buses, subways and trolleys.

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