The MBTA Could Hike Fares by 10 Percent

Fares were last increased in 2014.

A MBTA Charlie Card for the MBTA by Garrett Quinn

Photo by Garrett Quinn

Riders of the MBTA could see a double-digit increase in fares next July if the board overseeing the cash-strapped agency has its way.

The Fiscal and Management Control Board approved two of four possible fare increase schemes during their regular meeting on Monday. One proposal, known as Option B, would raise fares by roughly five percent and raise pass prices by 6.7 percent, while the other proposal, known as Option D, would raise fares by 10 percent while increasing pass prices by an average of 9.7 percent.

The two options could generate $33.2 and $49.4 million in new revenues for the agency, respectively.

For example, a single Charlie Card-based trip on the subway currently costs $2.10. Under Option B, the new fare would be $2.20, and under Option D, it would be $2.25. A monthly LinkPass (that’s unlimited Subway and Bus service) currently costs $75 a month, but under the proposed increases, it would be $82.50 (for Option B) and $84.50 (for Option D).

Some level of increase is all but certain, as the MBTA has already incorporated a five percent increase in fares in its budget for next year, something necessary to address even part of the deficit. The two proposals would eliminate the 10-ride paper ticket option currently available to Commuter Rail passengers, but still allow for the 10-ride option on digital devices like smartphones.  The MBTA currently has a $242 million hole in its budget for next year.

The MBTA, like most state government agencies, runs on a budget that starts on July 1, and will open a public comment period that will run through February before making a decision on any increase. The public is invited to comment on the increase in person at a public hearing, by email, or the old fashioned way, with a printed letter.

A final decision on the fare increase will be made in March by the board. The MBTA’s fare collection system will be updated for several months before implementing the fare increase on July 1.

One thing to keep in mind while contemplating a fare increase is that the MBTA has the second cheapest fares of any major public transportation system in the United States. Only San Francisco has a cheaper monthly pass option than Boston, at $70.00 for unlimited access to the city’s metro system. In New York, a monthly unlimited Metrocard costs $116.50, while in DC a monthly SmartTrip pass comparable to the LinkPass costs $237.00.

Fares were last increased on the MBTA in 2014.