Pos­si­ble fare hike floated as MBTA faces $111M deficit

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By MATT STOUT

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.”


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