Riding the T will cost more starting in July after the MBTA’s oversight board amended and passed a set of fare hikes Monday over heated opposition.
The board voted to approve a plan to raise fares by an average of 6 percent — though now bus fares and the T’s discount programs will not change. The cost of a single-ride subway ticket will rise from $2.25 to $2.40 starting July 1.
Emerson student Brady Baca testified before the vote at yesterday’s hearing.
“People are already struggling to pay the fares we have now,” Baca said. “The people are resoundingly against this proposal.”
The T predicts that the hike will raise about $29.4 million and will decrease ridership by 1.2 percent. The agency says this hike is necessary to stay on the right track in repairing the nation’s oldest transit system.
The vote came after weeks of opposition from riders and advocates who complained that the hike will hit low-income people particularly hard, and that the long-struggling T hasn’t made enough visible progress in performance to earn more money.
Jack Spence told the board, “Overall, service and reliability have not improved markedly, and in some areas they’ve gotten worse.”
T rider Parker Morse called the increase “shortsighted and self-defeating.”
City councilor Michelle Wu, who’s led the charge against the fares, told the Herald after the meeting that the amendments were necessary, but that “it’s little comfort to the vast majority of riders that are still underserved by the MBTA.”
Wu praised the work of advocates and organizers, and said there remain other issues to focus on, such as collection policies for the upcoming new fare system, and an initiative she and Councilor Kim Janey are working on to make the 28 bus from Mattapan to Ruggles free.
The T’s Fiscal & Management Control Board (FMCB) approved the hike after making several amendments, including member Brian Lang’s changes to freeze the bus rate and discount programs, which otherwise all would have increased.
Lang’s changes decreased the amount the T was going to bring in by $2.6 million, but also reduced the predicted hit to ridership by a tenth of a percentage point.
Board Vice Chair Monica Tibbitts-Nutt added an amendment to restrict the T from increasing rates again for the next three years.
“I want to see things improve,” Tibbitts-Nutt said. “We keep talking about improving service and we’re just not doing it.”
The T also is making its $10 Commuter Rail weekend discount permanent and is expanding its youth pass program.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh praised the FMCB’s adjustments to the fare hike proposal, saying in a statement, “We still have further to go to ensure the MBTA is serving our residents equitably and effectively, but freezing rate hikes for those that would be impacted the most is the fair and responsible step forward towards a better transportation system for all.”
The T also approved a preliminary version of its $2.1 billion budget at the meeting. The budget now goes to the outside MBTA Advisory Board for a month’s review before coming back for final approval, though the T and the board can change it significantly in the meantime.