It started back in January, when the MBTA, staring down a $160 million hole for the coming year, introduced two plans to cover the deficit through fare increases and service cuts. One leaned more heavily on fares, the other on cuts.
With transit ridership in Greater Boston at its highest level since 1946, the public was outraged. The prospect of a 43 percent increase on fares and passes and the elimination of up to half of all bus routes, all ferries, and all night and weekend service on the commuter rail prompted 6,000 people to pack hearings and 6,300 to write to the MBTA by e-mail or letter. Nearly all called for a less severe alternative.