April 4, 2012
BOSTON — The board that oversees the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority voted 4-1 Wednesday in favor of fare increases and modest service cuts as the crowd of 200-plus riders shouted "shame on you."
The only no-vote came from board member Ferdinand Alvaro, who said it was up to the Legislature and not the riders to plug the $159 million budget shortfall.
"I cannot in good conscience support a budget that … burdens the most vulnerable people in our population with covering the gap," he said.
The board voted to raise fares approximately 23 percent on buses and subways. Other increases include a 29 percent increase on commuter rail and a 35 percent hike on the ferry. The Ride, a door-to-door service to passengers with disabilities, will increase from $2 to $4 starting July 1. ??The vote came after more than an hour of public testimony.
Activist Khalida Smalls called the hikes unacceptable. "The impact on riders, the impact on seniors, the impact on young people, The Ride alone — the 100-150 percent of an increase is ridiculous," she said. "People can’t afford it. People aren’t getting extra money from anywhere. It’s really a dire situation. People’s lives are on the line."
Transit officials are saying that even with fare hikes, the Legislature needs to provide more help. There’s a projected budget gap on the T of $100 million for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2013, in part because of debt service on the Big Dig. Without new revenues, residents can expect more fare increases and service cuts next year. And the rest of the transportation system needs help too, officials added: The state’s gas tax and tolls don’t provide enough money for paving and stripping roads and repairing bridges and highways
Protesters said they will now take the fight to the State House.
> > READ: Protesters gather ahead of the board meeting
> > READ: The MBTA's plan