MBTA Fare Hikes Spare Bus Riders, Seniors, Youth, Students

The T followed CLF recommendations to protect low-income and bus riders from increased prices

MBTA fares are going up again, but thanks to CLF's advocacy, some riders will be spared this time around. Photo: ArnoldReinhold [CC BY-SA 3.0]

We asked, and the Fiscal and Management Control Board partially listened. The Control Board approved proposed MBTA fare hikes for the subway and commuter rail, but bus fares as well as senior, youth, and student passes won’t see an increase in price.

T Fares Held Steady for Bus Riders, Discount Pass Holders

On March 11, the Control Board rejected the transit agency’s proposal to raise fares an average of 6.3 percent across the entire system. CLF advocated against this proposal, arguing that such an increase would disproportionally burden low-income and minority riders. The Control Board listened. Now, by maintaining fares at current levels for seniors, youth, students, riders with disabilities, and bus riders, the people most in need of affordable transportation will continue to be able to ride the T.

Subway and commuter rail riders, however, will pay more starting July 1. A one-way subway ride will increase from $2.25 to $2.40, and the monthly LinkPass will rise from $84.50 to $90.00. Commuter rail riders will see a hike between 4 and 6.9 percent, depending on their zone.

Fare Hike Must Lead to Service Improvements

Boston deserves a transit system that’s efficient, reliable, and affordable. The modified fare hike may not meet that last benchmark for all of its riders, but that makes it even more important that the T use the revenue generated by the higher fares to make service more efficient and reliable.

Service improvements are critical and long overdue. If you ride the T as much as I do, then you know firsthand that it too often fails to provide dependable and predictable service. More than half of riders surveyed in 2017 reported that they plan more than 10 minutes of extra time for routine trips to accommodate possible delays. Many bus riders saw a decrease in reliability from 2014 to 2017.

With riders paying $29.5 million in new revenue anticipated from the fare hike, they must see improvements to their commute in return. These improvements should include more reliable bus service and work on expansion projects like the Red-Blue Connector that have sat on the shelf for decades.

The MBTA Must Be Accountable to Its Riders

As the MBTA raises fares, the agency needs to communicate to riders how our money is helping improve service. The T also must set service improvement benchmarks and publicly report on its progress. That way, CLF – and all of us – can hold the T accountable for what they have promised.

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