Jacking up T fares won’t be enough to keep the city’s transit system from drowning in debt, so the MBTA is continuing to explore additional ways to cut costs and raise revenue.

One avenue they have started sniffing out is assessing people face to face to confirm that they qualify for The Ride, a paratransit program that T officials say is costing them millions annually.

“[The program] will exceed $5 to $10 million over budget for the current fiscal year,” said interim MBTA General Manager Jon Davis. “The trend is higher than what we have planned for.”

Davis said this year The Ride was budgeted at $100 million, but has been increasing in costs by 16 percent per year, while revenues have only increased 2 percent.

 

“It is putting a strain on total resources and what we have available for all other modes [of transportation],” said Davis.

On Monday night, the T held an informational session to discuss in-person assessments to determine eligibility for The Ride services.

The MBTA Board of Directors claims these types of face-to-face meetings will “determine if some customers can use buses, trains, trolleys for some trips,” which would save the T some money.

“It’s affecting the T’s budget significantly,” said Paul Regan, executive director of the MBTA Advisory Board.

Regan said in a world of finite resources, the T needs to be sure they are spending in the right way.

“If people who come in for assessment don’t meet a standard, then they will go back on the regular system,” he said. “But having said that, the T has spent a lot of money to make the whole system more accessible.”

Just what is The Ride?

This program, serving 62 communities, has lift-equipped vehicles provide door-to-door service to eligible customers who can’t use subways, buses or trains due to a physical, mental or cognitive disability.



Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear.

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