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By Meghna Chakrabarti (The Third Rail)
The MBTA proposes increasing fares 19.5 percent overall, raising the cost of a Charlie Card bus ride from $1.25 to $1.50, and subway trips from $1.70 to $2.00.
The authority announced the proposal in a document released Wednesday afternoon.
PROPOSAL: MBTA Fare Increase And Service Changes (PDF)
"Riders are going to be very upset about this," said Lee Matsueda of the T Riders Union. "They can't afford a service reduction. They can't afford a fare increase. "
The Legislature committed to assist the T through a $160 million infusion from a sales tax increase. The funds would cover the majority of the transit authority's operating deficit for the 2010 fiscal year.
However, transportation officials have said rising debt service costs for the T's $8 billion debt mean that the sales tax boost won't cover the T's structural deficit for more than one year.
"Ultimately our state legislature needs to be the one to fix the problem," Matsueda said. The T Riders Union has called for the state to relieve the T of a portion of its debt.
The new fare increase proposal pushes the cost of monthly local bus passes from $40 to $47. Subway LinkPasses would increase by $10 to $69. Commuter rail passes would jump by more than $30, depending on zone, and commuter boat passes could soar from $198 to $228 per month.
The MBTA estimates the fare increases could raise $69 million per year for the authority.
MBTA General Manager Daniel Grabauskas did not respond to requests for comment.
The T has planned a series of public meetings, scheduled between August 10 and 27. Written comments will also be accepted through September 4.
The agency also considered a wide variety of service cuts that could net the agency $55 million. But a large projected drop in ridership prevented the T from enacting the cuts, according to MBTA officials. However, service cuts remain under discussion.
"We encourage people to attend next month's public workshops as we seek to craft a multi-year solution to our structural financial problems," said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, in an email.
Transportation Secretary James Aloisi has previously said higher fares could go into effect by the fall.
This program aired on July 8, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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