MBTA proposes subway fare hike

by Beacon Staff • March 29, 2006

According to Jon Carlisle, spokesman for the state transportation department, which works directly with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), a 25-percent fare increase was recently proposed for 2007.,For the many students and area residents who rely on the T for transportation, getting around town may be getting more expensive.

According to Jon Carlisle, spokesman for the state transportation department, which works directly with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), a 25-percent fare increase was recently proposed for 2007.

The last fare increase was in January 2004, when bus fare increased from 75 cents to 90 cents, and T fare went from $1.00 to $1.25.

In 2000, bus prices increased from 60 cents to 75 cents and the cost of a T token rose from 85 cents to $1.

Joe Pesaturo, the MBTA press secretary, said there will be public hearings to discuss the increase, which was proposed last month.

The increase, if accepted, would affect the large number of Emerson students who commute to campus. This semester, 775 T passes were issued at the Emerson College Off-Campus Student Center, and last semester, 1,029 passes were issued, according to Christy Letizia, coordinator of Off-Campus Student Services.

However, she did not attribute the drop in sales for the spring to prices, but to students who have recently moved off campus and realized that they do not need a T pass come second semester.

Some students said they weren't troubled by the rising price.

"I'm in favor of a fare hike as long as it makes the service better," said Eric Levin-Hatz, a freshman TV/video major who lives near the Packard's Corner stop on the Green B-Line in Allston and takes the T to school. He also said that changing the bus fare from 90 cents to a dollar would actually help, instead of always getting dimes back, since the bus fare is said to be increasing as well.

Pesaturo did say that in a year or so, he thinks tokens will be obsolete and that everyone will be mainly using CharlieCards. The CharlieCard automatically debits the cost of a ride at the turnstile, and anyone can add money to his/her CharlieCard at any T or bus station.

Although other publications, such as The Boston Globe, have reported the T token will cost $1.55 in 2007, Pesaturo said the price has not been determined.

Pesaturo said the MBTA's general manager proposed a 25 percent increase for the overall transportation system but that there has been no final decision on the cost of tokens or bus costs.

Jeremy Marin, associate regional representative for Sierra Club, a non-profit environmental group that supports public transportation, opposed the last increase of fares in January 2004 and has been speaking about the matter to newspapers since the new increase was proposed.

Marin said the MBTA is deeply in debt.

"Part of what's happening is federal and state government hasn't funded state transit the way that they need to," Marin said. "The governor needs to step up to the plate."

Marin said the most troubling thing about the price hike is that it will perpetuate what he called a "cycle" of less people taking the T, which generates less revenue for the MBTA, and increases the fare again.

Kim Johnson, a senior marketing communication major, said that while she thinks people will be angered by the increase, she understands why one has been proposed.

"We've had it good in Boston with one fare that is cheap," Johnson said. "Maybe Boston is just catching up to the norm."

In New York City, the fare for a local subway or bus is $2.00 and an express bus is $5.00, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs New York's subway system.

Levin-Hatz said he didn't understand the need for an increase. He said he didn't know why the MBTA would have financial problems because he thinks all of the machinery looks old, as if it hadn't been updated recently.

Sonali Bankal, a graduate student studying integrated marketing communication who lives in Allston and commutes to school, said MBTA price hikes are especially inconvenient because she cannot take another mode of transportation.

"People like me will still have to take the T," Bankal said. "If they're increasing prices, they should try to up the services a bit."

Pesaturo said the fare increase would help the MBTA pay for new buses, salaries and that it will help pay off debt. There is also a plan to expand the Silver Line in order to allow transfers from both the orange and green lines, Pesaturo said.

"Any revenue that is generated by the T will go back into the system," Pesaturo said.