One vote away from major MBTA fare increases

Dozens to MBTA riders held a vigil outside the Massachusetts State House throughout the evening calling for the T not to increase fares. The?MassDOT Board is voting on the increase this afternoon.

It all comes down to this.

Months of protests, public hearings that drew thousands of commentators, and nearly 6,000 e-mails sent to T officials in regards to proposed MBTA fare hikes and service cuts have culminated to one final vote expected today.

The MassDOT Board of Directors is scheduled to decide on a proposal presented by MBTA interim General Manager Jon Davis and State Transportation Secretary Rich Davey to hike the price to ride the T by 23 percent.

If passed, starting July 1, riders using a CharlieCard will dole out an extra 25 cents to take the bus, and pay $2 to ride the subway, up from $1.70.

Students using transit will need to dig deeper in their pockets to cover the extra 15 cents for all modes of transportation while elderly riders will be asked to chip in 35 cents more for the bus, and a $1 for a single train trip.

Seniors who utilize The Ride are also facing an increase, and will be expected to pay $2 more for services in certain areas. Premium fares for The Ride will jump to $5.

For those using T ferries, the fare will skyrocket by 35 percent.

But the vote is not set in stone, according to T officials.

“As the ultimate authority on all things MBTA, the board can choose to adopt the recommendation, reject the recommendation, or adopt and modify the recommendation,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

If the board chooses to change anything within the proposal presented today, they would need to squeeze in another meeting in the next few weeks.

According to Pesaturo, by statute, the MBTA must have a budget for the current fiscal year approved by April 15.

An MBTA financial expert, however, said the board isn’t likely to stall the decision any longer.

“Even if everyone is jumping up and down and screaming, they will vote to do it,” said Brian Kane, financial analyst for the MBTA Advisory Board.

According to Kane, the directors “don’t tend to change things that are presented by staff.

“I don’t think they have an alternative. I think this is it.”

What will be cut?

A segment of the Green Line’s E branch on weekends
Weekend service on Needham, Kingston-Plymouth and Greenbush lines
Four bus routes in the Greater Boston area
Sixteen bus routes will be modified in and around Boston

No more Mr. Nice Guy

Last week, protesters dressed as superheroes hijacked a board meeting, shutting it down.
   
MBTA officials said extra security would be on hand to help ensure that today’s meeting is conducted in an orderly fashion

Security personnel from the state Transportation building will be active throughout the meeting.
   
MBTA Advisory Board members said T officials will “attempt to keep the crowd small.”
   
Several groups of protesters plan on making their disapproval clear at today’s hearing

Pulling an all-nighter

More than 20 people were committed to sleeping over on the steps of the State House last night, leading up to the final vote by the MassDOT Board of Directors.

Members from the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition, Massachusetts Senior Action Council and T Riders Union rallied on Beacon Hill, holding a 24-hour vigil in protest of the proposed fare increases.

The groups called on Gov. Deval Patrick to intervene before the final vote today. 

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear


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