Faced with a growing deficit, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is poised to increase fares and cut services in 2013, according to an article in The Boston Globe on Sunday.
Fare increases and service cuts will be made unless “the state finds a long-term solution to its transportation funding woes,” according to the Globe.
Clearly the MBTA’s budget is hemorrhaging. In the fiscal year 2013 — June 2012 to June 2013 — available revenues are “projected to be as much as $185 below operating expenses,” according to a January document on the MBTA’s website.
In the hopes of increasing revenue, the MBTA raised bus and subway fares in July. Just a few days before that hike, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick approved a $49-million bailout.
While these steps might have reduced the deficit some, how effective is another fare increase going to be? Rather than increase fares or cut services, the MBTA should make more of an effort to receive funds from the state, advertisers or other entities.
Additionally, if the MBTA is willing to raise fares again, after the issue was such a hot-button topic last year, riders may wonder how many more increases they will face and at what rate.
If the MBTA continues to respond to its funding woes with fare hikes, riders may start to avoid the service. Fares must be capped at a certain level or people will not be able to afford its services.
Eventually, people could start to forgo the T and opt to drive cars instead as their primary form of transportation. Boston, a major commuter city, cannot handle an increase in automobile ridership. Public transportation needs to remain an affordable option for commuters, students and anyone who relies on its services.
The MBTA needs to reevaluate its funding and look toward more assistance from the state, corporations or other entities. Frequent fare increases and service cuts are not permanent or realistic solutions.