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Is the MBTA Being Fare?

By Emily Contrada

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) provides more than 1.3 million trips each weekday to accommodate those traveling through the Boston area. With a 161 million dollar deficit in 2011 alone, Boston transit has the highest debt of any transit system in the country. Seeking to improve such conditions, the MBTA is now taking action to deal with the rising debt.
In order to save approximately 12.9 million dollars a year, the MBTA plans to make changes to staff wages and schedules, as well as to transportation schedules and fares. The MBTA will eliminate all weekend service on the Mattapan line and on the Green Line’s E train. The commuter rail will also change its schedule, as it will no longer run after 10:00 PM or operate on the weekends.
In addressing subways and buses, the MBTA is looking to raise prices. Its first option includes raising prices by 43 percent, reducing service hours by 9 to 13 percent, and increasing parking prices by 28 percent. The second option under consideration is to raise fare prices by 35 percent and reduce service hours by 14 to 17 percent, while increasing parking prices by 20 percent.
Raising ticket prices is meant to encourage travelers to purchase a CharlieCard. This card is reusable, and it allows for cheaper fares than does the paper ticket. With this in mind, the MBTA will save money when paper tickets are eventually retired. Under the new changes, fare prices on the CharlieCard may increase up to 70 cents from the current rate of $1.70 per ride. Paper tickets would then cost a dollar more than the current price of $2.00. Bus fares would also be affected by this change, as fares could increase to 50 cents more than the current price of $1.25.
Though stabilizing its debt is important, the MBTA does not want to leave customers without a means of transportation. Raising fares by 60 percent would quickly solve the debt problem, but the MBTA realizes that it would lose many customers if it followed this approach. With the extra revenue from the price increase, the MBTA plans to improve other aspects of the system. Renovations to the Government Center subway station are planned, as well as better accessibility at the stations themselves. Plans to install countdown arrival clocks at each subway station to inform riders of approaching trains have also been considered.
While these business strategies are subject to change, the MBTA has been holding public information meetings to keep its riders up to date. Comments and concerns regarding the changes are encouraged and will be taken into consideration, as a court reporter will be present at each meeting to record what the public has to say. The public meetings are being held throughout March, and the MBTA will be accepting public comments via email. It is not too late to voice your opinion on these changes; contact the MBTA at fareproposal@mbta.com.

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