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Old 11-09-2006, 05:38 PM   #1
Mike
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Weymouth
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T fares to rise

MBTA board approves fare hike for T, buses and light rail

By Mac Daniel, Globe Staff, and Andrew Ryan, Globe Correspondent


The MBTA board voted unanimously this afternoon to approve the T's second set of fare increases in three years despite the objections of Governor-elect Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

The nine-member board of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority approved recommendations to increase the price of subway and trolley tickets by 45 cents; up bus fares by 35 cents; and increase the cost of most commuter rail passes by 22 percent.

The increases, slated to take affect in January, are projected to bring in an additional $71 million a year as the MBTA tries to balance its budget after two years of shortfalls.

T officials acknowledge that the fare hikes will drive away an estimated 16.5 million passengers a year. The MBTA carries about 1.1 million passengers on an average workday.

Under the new fares, subway and trolley rides will go from $1.25 to $1.70, and bus fares from 90 cents to $1.25.

This morning, Menino urged board members to consider shutting down little used bus lines in the suburbs and postpone any fare hike until officials can explore other options. Fare hikes, especially on bus lines, would hurt those who can least afford it -- the hospital workers, restaurant employees and students who rely almost exclusively on public transportation, he said.

"Who is going to take the T? It's not going to be the executives from some of our biggest companies," Menino said this morning in a Globe interview at the Parkman House. "It's our working people ... It will take money out of their pockets."

MBTA General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas has said that the T doesn't want a fare increase, but that heavy debt and anticipated budget shortfalls make it necessary.

Governor-elect Deval Patrick opposes the fare increase, though he said on Wednesday that he recognizes the financial troubles of the MBTA.

"This couldn't come at a worse time when ridership is low and falling," Patrick said at a press conference the day before the increase was approved.

Carrie Russell, a staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, issued a statement opposing an increase.

"It is time to move beyond the short-term solutions that push riders away from the MBTA and look toward real investments that will turn around the state?s transportation problems, avoid traffic congestion and reduce global warming and air pollution," Russell said.



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