It’s a New Year, which most likely means there will be changes here in the Hub.
And MBTA officials are wasting no time getting the ball rolling on changing the fare structure for the T.
Since last summer T officials have been gabbing about the possibility of spiking fares in order to close a looming $161 million budget gap next fiscal year, and now, after months of speculation, the conversations revolving around that topic will begin.
On Tuesday, members of the MBTA Board of Directors Finance and Audit Committee will receive a briefing about the public process for discussing fare increases and service cuts in 2012.
The following day, Wednesday, Jan. 4, the full board will meet to receive a similar overview of what will happen from here on out.
According to MassDOT Secretary Rich Davey, these talks will “almost certainly” lead to an increase in the cost of subway, bus and commuter rail service, but not before a slew of public hearings take place statewide.
According to State House News, 20 public meetings are scheduled following the two board meetings this week, which will include releasing a list of potential fare hike and service cut scenarios.
In early December, Davey said avoiding a hike next year will be “almost impossible.”
In a worst case scenario, T riders could see ticket prices for trains shoot up from $2 to $3.25 for a ride, but Davey cautioned last week that a more moderate hike in combination with service cuts is more likely, according to reports.
A springtime vote is needed from the MBTA board for targeting the implementation of an increase by July 2012.
The lengthy public-input process that will take place, however, is bound to face public backlash.
Already, groups like the T Rider’s Union (TRU) have met with MBTA officials and spoken publicly against potential increases.
Davey said in a statement last week that even with a fare hike, the MBTA’s financial problems are not a “one-year issue” and will require further fixes in the years ahead.