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MBTA Proposes Double-Digit Fare Increases; No Weekend Commuter Rail [Poll]

Both scenarios propose rate hikes on the commuter rail - between 27 and 52.9% - and call for weekday commuter rail service to end at 10 p.m.

As the MBTA struggles with a growing budget gap, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Tuesday released two MBTA service proposals that would not only raise rates, but also include some service reductions or eliminations.

According to information released on a Mass.gov blog, one scenario proposes an overall fare increase of 43 percent, while the other scenario suggests a 35 percent fare increase; but commuter rail service could increase between 27 to 52.9% based on which zone.

The proposals look to close a projected $161 million budget gap for fiscal year 2013, the statement said. 

"While the MBTA continues to identify and adopt strict measures to close the budget gap, less costly ways of doing business and additional revenue-generating measures are necessary," said MassDOT Transportation Secretary and CEO Richard Davey in the online statement. "I am confident with the public’s involvement in this process we can review the study, propose recommendations, and together generate new revenue to continue the progress the MBTA has made in serving its customers.”  

In addition, both scenarios include service eliminations or reductions to the Commuter Rail, bus, light rail, ferry and THE RIDE service area. 

Both scenarios calls for the elimination of the commuter rail service on the weekends and for service to end on weekdays at 10 p.m.

The MassDOT statement says 20 public meetings will be held over the next couple of months to discuss the proposals.

A final recommendation will be made in the spring, with new fares and service changes implemented on July 1, 2012.

A 74-page MBTA analysis of the two proposals is attached to this post as a PDF, to read at your leisure; perhaps on the commuter rail on your way to work this morning.

Amy Schwartzberg January 04, 2012 at 12:03 PM
their scheduling has been so poor, if they offered more trains, had more parking people would ride the rails rather than drive in. B/c they have so little trains to offer it's easier to drive in b/c if you have to be somewhere in an hurry and you miss a train you have to wait way to long for thenext.
Leslie January 04, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I have family members who do not drive and would have no other way to get to work or friends' homes on the weekends. The commuter rail is a lifeline for some people. I can't believe the MBTA would leave them stranded.
Paul Lascari January 04, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Not only are there few trains, but it would be a boom to mankind if they could make it a faster trip into Boston on the weekends. The trip time on a weekday work morning is about equal to driving, so OK to take an hour (say from my stop in Framingham to South Station). But on weekends, it would be so great if they ran skip-stop to speed up the trip. Cutting it from an hour to like 40 minutes on the weekend is worth the extra money.
Gary Zaino January 04, 2012 at 02:25 PM
An increase of that size is going to force a lot of riders, myself included, to really take a hard look at the "convenience" of the commuter rail versus the cost. If their intent is to drive down ridership, I'm betting they will succeed. And of course, as I read this, I am waiting for my delayed train. I could have predicted its lateness given the frigid temperature. Despite promises of improvements in winter reliability, they have failed to deliver, to no one's surprise. I'm sure that will be blamed on their lack of funds just as I'm sure it won't change after they start charging more. Double digit real estate tax increase, double digit train fare increase... Where will it end?
Leah Graves January 04, 2012 at 02:41 PM
The poor commuter rail service is pretty much the main reason I have been working in MetroWest (instead of Boston) since 1999 (or even before that when I was doing internships during college). I attended FSU for undergrad and in the early 90s they did not allow underclassmen to have cars on campus (well, or to park 45 minutes away in one of the lots in Cushing). Every weekend I took the commuter rail to go to BU or my husband took the commuter rail to come visit me at FSU. It was always strange to me how the bus schedule (in Framingham) never coordinated with the rail schedule. I used to have to take Tommy's taxi to make the train (additional cost). The public transport system in Western MA is better than Framingham/Natick. That's pretty sad considering we're talking about much smaller and poorer towns. MBTA could really learn a lot from observing the PVTA (Pioneer Valley) or even the system down in Washington DC. In DC people get fined if they eat and drink on the trains and the cars are spotless. MBTA is really horrible. And so I get in my car and drive to work...
Lynn January 05, 2012 at 12:24 AM
The MBTA needs to take a page from the retail market... lower prices increase business, not increased prices, e.g. $2.00 x 1000 is a lot more than $5.00 x 100
Susan Petroni (Editor) January 05, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Amy: I completely agree. I always prefer driving to Boston; we often take the train for weekends and events only because my 10-year old loves it and only if it meets our schedule. I grew up on the orange/green lines and took the T everywhere ... it's not the same with the commuter rail ...
Papabarn January 06, 2012 at 04:03 AM
The bottom line here is that transportation costs money. Even driving isn't as cheap as some think it is. You just don't relate the portion from revenues other than the gas/diesel tax to the cost, so it seems a lot cheaper. It's the same with the (T) or any other transit system. If you want more trains, newer equipment, cleaner equipment, faster service, well that stuff doesn't come from Santa Claus. Somebody's got to foot the bill. Likewise, think about it the next time you're driving and hit a monster pothole. Don't like the fuel tax? Or would you rather pay a little in gas tax instead of pay a lot for a front end alignment every six or so months. Like that mechanic in the old Fram oil filter ad said; "You can pay me now, or pay me later"..

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