Several members of the T Riders Union spoke up at an MBTA and MassDOT board meeting yesterday asking for the T to do anything besides cut services and raise fares.

 

Advocates feared people who rely on the transit system everyday may not be able to afford to pay.

 

Gwen Vincent, a TRU member, said she takes three buses everyday, and pleaded with the MBTA not to consider a "band-aid" attempt at fixing the $160 million deficit in the next fiscal year through increases in fares and cuts to T service.

 

"Increases will impact people getting to work who can't afford it and will force them to decide between buying their groceries or paying for their medications," said Vincent.

 

However, MassDOT Secretary and former GM Rich Davey backed what he said several weeks ago, calling fare increases prudent form time to time.

 

"Costs go up. But the issue we have is given the significant deficit that we’re projecting for next year it’s going to be very difficult for us to close that gap without doing either a fare increase or service cuts or both,” Davey said.

The T has not raised fares in the past five years. Riders, however, only narrowly escaped an increase in 2009 after the Patrick administration backed off plans to hike fares by 19.5 percent, which would have raised an additional $69 million to help the T reduce its debt load, according to a State House News Service report.