MassDOT board expected to approve MBTA fare hikes

Globe file

Even after 175 people wrote, called, or spoke at public meetings in protest, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s board of directors is still expected to vote Wednesday to increase the price of bus, subway, and commuter rail passes by as much as 6.5 percent.

The fare increases, first announced in March, would go into effect July 1.

Under the T’s proposal, the price of bus and subway tickets would rise by 10 cents, increasing to $1.60 and $2.10.


The price of a combined bus-and-subway monthly pass would increase by $5 to $75, and a monthly bus pass would rise $2 to $50 per month. Commuter rail rates would also change, with those in Zone 1, towns close to Boston, seeing their monthly fares increase by $9, and the farthest regions seeing an increase of $17.

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In the last two months, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority held 10 meetings around the region to solicit opinions, complaints, and suggestions from customers. But there will be no changes to the fare increase scheme that the T will present to the MassDOT board on Wednesday, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

According to documents from the T, 82 percent of the people who wrote to the MBTA about the fare increases said they opposed raising the fare. At public meetings, 44 percent of people who provided comments said they opposed the hikes, while 42 percent were neutral or needed more information, the T’s tally said.

The log of public comments — with each complaint or query summarized in a brief entry — provides an illustrative, if terse, look at the reactions of commuters, many still stinging from the 23 percent fare hikes instituted two years ago.

“Would like to see cutbacks instead of increased fares,” reads one entry.


“Would boycott the T if she could,” reads another.

“Happy the increase wasn’t higher,” said one person at the public meeting in Attleboro.

“The MBTA is among the worst in the history of transportation and an embarrassment to the city of Boston,” declared an e-mail critic.

The increases press the limits of what is allowable under a law passed last year limiting fare increases to an average of 5 percent every two years.

Earlier this year, the MBTA reduced the standard fare on The Ride, the door-to-door shuttle service for people with disabilities, by $1, or 25 percent, after more than a year of protests.


Because of that fare cut, other transit fares were increased between 4.9 to 6.5 percent.

Officials estimate that the fare hikes will cause ridership to decline by less than 1 percent — between 2.8 million to 3.8 million fewer trips per year.

T officials said they made concessions, such as dropping the price of a 7-day-per-week pass for middle and high school students to $26 per month, down from $28 per month.

Last week, students protested at the state’s transportation building, seeking a youth pass available to more young people — those age 12 to 21 — that would cost no more than $10 per month.

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey, students with the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition — a group advocating for cheaper transit fares for young people — accused MBTA officials of reneging on promises to include further changes in the youth pass.

“We will not allow seven years of work on behalf of youth in our region to be turned into a game of attrition,” wrote Luis Navarro and Kenisha Allen of the coalition. “There are lost school days and lost students, lost work shifts and lost jobs, lost medical and service appointments, lost to a crisis you’ve left to worsen while sitting on a clear solution.”

Martine Powers can be reached at