Bus and subway fares on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority would increase 10 cents this fiscal year if a new proposal passes.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation finance committee announced the possible fare hikes Tuesday.These fare spikes would also raise the price of monthly bus and subway passes from $70 to $75, and the commuter rail monthly passes would increase anywhere between $5 to $17, depending on the distance being traveled. The proposal, if approved by a MassDOT board meeting being held on April 9, would be implemented by July 1.
MBTA fare increases last came in the summer of 2012, increasing an average of 23 percent. To put an end to fare fluctuations of that magnitude, a transportation finance law was passed in the State House limiting the fare to increase only 5 percent over two years. The changes would average about 5 percent, according to MBTA spokeswoman Kelly Smith.
“A 10-cent increase isn’t consistent across the board. Some fares are raised by a nickel,” she said. “Legislature provides for a 5 percent raise over a 24-month period, and this was averaged across the [MBTA] services.”
These fare increases are expected to bring an extra $20 million to the usual $24.5 million of revenue to the MBTA.
John Harris, Boston University economics professor, said the fare increase could be attributed to rising costs of keeping the MBTA running.
“They have a huge deficit that has to be made up from taxes in the community,” he said. “Increasing fares is easier than getting more money from taxpayers.”
With the price to ride the T increasing, the number of people who would still ride comes into question. Smith said although the MBTA recognizes that an increase does make a difference, they do not expect the average commuter to stop using the T or buses as a result.
Because the MBTA system is an essential means of transportation for many people, Harris said he does not think the ridership would be notably affected.
“The T is a necessity,” he said, “This not being a huge hike in prices, I can’t see the ridership significantly decreasing.”
The MBTA knows the regular commuters and users of the system will keep up to date on any price changes.
“MBTA policy changes typically get some media attention,” Smith said. “Regular riders of the T will be well aware of the increase before it takes place.”
The MBTA will typically do everything they can to prevent increases in fares to their riders, said Smith, but with operating costs so high, this increase could hardly be avoided.
Several residents said a fare increase is a small inconvenience, but it would not prevent them from relying on the MBTA as a main source of transportation.
“I don’t think it’s too big of a deal,” said Evan DeCroteau, 27, of South Boston. “Two-dollar fare is a pretty round number; $2.10 is a little less convenient. I guess that’s what I’m most concerned about because I never have change on me.”
Rachel Markiewicz, 51, of Back Bay, said this increase is minimal but even if the price only increases by 5 percent every year, it will eventually be expensive.
“Didn’t the price just increase a lot a few years ago?” she said. “A 10 cent increase doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m just worried about exactly how high [the fare] will go.”
Jake Silverman, 35, of Boston, said seeing prices go up is not pleasant, but a natural occurrence throughout time.
“I guess the costs are rising, so it makes sense for the fare to go up,” he said. “Nobody wants to see the cost of public transportation rise, especially in the city. I’m still going to ride the T, though.”