Possible fare hike floated as MBTA faces $111M deficit
Gov. Charlie Baker gave the MBTA some cover yesterday with the potential for another fare hike rearing its head, saying T officials “should” be discussing it as the agency stares down a bulging budget deficit.
T officials revealed on Monday that they expect to face a $111 million deficit entering the new fiscal year in July, and while they didn’t say they’d seek a fare hike to help close the gap, the bad news raises the potential for one.
The T’s Fiscal & Management Control Board agreed two years ago when it raised fares by an average of 9.3 percent that it wouldn’t consider hiking them again until January 2019, which would fall midway through the next fiscal year. Lawmakers have since passed a law that allows the T to hike fares every two years, with a 7 percent cap.
But while praising the transit agency’s ability to rein in costs, Baker said yesterday it’s “important” for the T to at least weigh fare hikes.
“They’re supposed to have this conversation, (and) they should,” Baker told reporters.
When asked what he’d say to riders who’d have to pay more for an unreliable system, Baker said, “I think the first thing I’d say is, we all agree that the system is not as reliable as it should be, which is why we have been significantly investing in the T’s capital program. ... The T, every two years under its statute, is supposed to have a conversation about fares.”