Angered they will be paying higher MBTA fares starting Monday, public transit riders protested the rate hikes at Park Street Station Sunday, criticizing a system bedeviled by delays, breakdowns, and a pair of recent subway derailments.
And those protests are planned to continue during the Monday morning commute, as demonstrators spread out to Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority stations across the system, according to organizers.
Michael McCarthy, 54, who attended Sunday’s “BostonTParty” rally, said riders deserve better service than they’re getting.
“I take it personally,” McCarthy said. “It’s an insult that you’re having the people using the service, and [who] need the service the most, pay for something that is not reliable.”
On Monday, a one-way subway ride will go up by 15 cents, from $2.25 to $2.40, while the charge for monthly subway passes will go up $5.50, from $84.50 to $90, according to the agency.
The cost of some one-way commuter rail trips will increase by as much as 75 cents, the MBTA said. Some of the monthly commuter rail trips are going up too, depending on location.
Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, who organized Sunday’s rally, has called for free MBTA service.
“Commuters across the region will have to choose between paying more for lousy T service, or sitting in the worst traffic in the country,” Wu told the crowd during the rally. “That’s not good for our region, and that’s not good for individual families.”
In a statement Sunday, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said MBTA riders “deserve a level of service on which they can depend, and the T is strongly committed to providing it.”
Fare revenue helps fund the MBTA’s capital improvement program, which will invest $8 billion in the system between now and fiscal 2023, Pesaturo said.
“Prioritizing the core of the system, these investments include new trains, buses, tracks, signals, power systems, and maintenance facilities,” Pesaturo said.
At Sunday’s rally, Wu was joined by other public officials who oppose the increases, including Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Cambridge Vice Mayor Jan Devereux, Brookline Select Board member Raul Fernandez, and state Representative Mike Connolly.
Connolly, who represents Cambridge and Somerville, said the hikes unfairly hit those who can least afford them.
“This is an attack on the working class; this is an attack on people who rely on public transportation to get to work,” said Connolly.
More than 100 people gathered for the rally, including some carrying signs criticizing the MBTA. One said “Stop unfair hikes once and for all.”
Another sign, held by Libby Safford, 35, of Jamaica Plain, read, “MBTA MGMT off the rails.”
Safford called the rate increases ridiculous.
“They’re mismanaging the entire system and they’re penalizing the riders, which makes no sense at all,” Safford said.
In the crowd was Terry Asci, 49, of Stoughton, who said she’s frustrated with the MBTA’s commuter rail service because’s she’s frequently late to her job with the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
“I can’t service the Commonwealth and do my job properly without getting to work on time,” she said.
Dorchester resident Ryan Roche, 33, said he recently gave up using the Red Line in favor of his bicycle, riding about 50 minutes to cover the distance from home to his job in Fenway.
“It’s made my life a lot better, honestly,” he said. “Still quicker than the T.”
But some commuters said they didn’t oppose the fee increase, seeing it as a chance to help fund improvements.
At the JFK station Sunday, Steven Lriu, 23, said he’s hopeful that the higher fare will bring better service.
“It’s not a [much] higher price,” he said.
Matt Steward, 25, said his job covers the cost of his MBTA pass.
“It’s not that bad,” he said.
But Eric Wilson, who was waiting at Downtown Crossing station, said his train is often delayed and that makes him late for work.
Those delays mean an uncertain commute: On some occasions, the 26-year-old Dorchester resident has resorted to hiring an Uber.
“You never know what you are going to get,” Wilson said.