T oversight chief favors fare hike
Light turnout so far at public hearings
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE MBTA’S OVERSIGHT BOARD said on Wednesday that he believes the underlying arguments for a fare increase remain valid. He made his comment after hearing a top agency official say the two fare hike proposals the T is considering are attracting a light turnout so far at public hearings.
Brian Shortsleeve, the T’s chief administrator, told the agency’s oversight board that the 12 public meetings on the proposed fare increases and commuter rail schedules, to date, have drawn a median attendance of 20 people per meeting. The highest attendance was 150 people at a meeting in Boston and the low was 10 in Newton, he said.
Shortsleeve said 5,400 people have used the T’s website to calculate what impact the proposed fare hikes would be on them, and 1,800 of those people went on to post public comments on the website.
Two more hearings on the fare hikes will be held in Roxbury and Weymouth before the public comment period ends Friday. A vote on whether to increase fares and by how much is currently scheduled for March 7.
The T oversight board is taking comment on two fare proposals, but has said it may not increase fares at all or blend the two proposals in some fashion. The proposals would boost base fares by either 5 percent or 10 percent, while hiking the price of many popular T passes by greater amounts. For example, the popular LinkPass, which offers unlimited bus and subway travel, would go from $75 a month to either $82.50 (an increase of 10 percent) or $84.50 (a 12.7 percent increase).