Board approves MBTA fare hikes, service cuts
BOSTON (WHDH) -- The MBTA Board of Directors approved a budget including an average 23 percent fare hike for riders along with some service cuts.
The 4-to-1vote capped months of often fierce debate over how to close a projected $159 million deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1. These hikes are the first in more than five years.
The controversial vote was met with much protest on Wednesday. People who opposed the budget chanted “Shame on you” to the board. T riders said the fare hikes and service cuts unfairly hurt seniors, students and the poor and disabled who depend on public transportation.
Much like the Occupy Boston movement that camped out on Dewey Square, "Camp Charlie" protesters are planning a 10-day occupation of the State House steps.
"It's a really great system, it's not the time to cut it, it's the time to expand it and even make it cheaper," said Susan McLucas.
“It’s always the most burnable,” said Louise Baxter of the MBTA riders union. “The lowest on the totem pole…When you’re talking about T riders you’re choosing who suffer the most pain -- the students, the elderly and the Ride gets the most pain.”
The fire hikes mean bus rides will increase by 30 cents, subway rides by 25 cents and commuter rail rides by $1.25 or more.
T officials say they have no choice to close the large budget gap.
“Massive debt costs coupled with increased operating expenses for energy and health care are overburdening out system. We cannot afford the system we have today,” said Jonathan Davis, MBTA General Manager.
MBTA officials said the budget would only be a one-year fix and T riders could be looking at another fare increase next year unless the Legislature comes up with a solution.
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