MBTA Increases Fares Amid Public Protest

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority fiscal control board voted on March 7 to increase its fares starting this July, a move with potentially negative consequences for Harvard affiliates.

The decision—which the board made amid loud chants of “fight the hike” from protesters who interrupted the meeting—came on the heels of the MBTA’s recent proposal to cut late-night weekend service, a change likely to disproportionately affect the Harvard Square T stop more than other MBTA stations. The MBTA voted to carry out this plan on March 16.

The price revisions, slated to take effect in July, include increasing the cost of riding the T with a CharlieCard from $2.10 to $2.25 and with a CharlieTicket from $2.65 to $2.75. The cost to ride the bus with a CharlieCard will rise from $1.60 to $1.70.

Dalen L. Ferreira ’19, who said he uses public transportation at least once a week, described the fare increase as “annoying” but not disastrous.

“I may not get to ride as often as I like, but I hope it won’t affect me too much,” he said.

The MBTA estimates that the fare hike will yield roughly $43 million in new revenue in fiscal year 2017. After the vote, fiscal control board chairman Joseph Aiello said the MBTA hopes to use the money to improve service.

Charles Chieppo, a Kennedy School fellow at the Ash Center who previously served on the MBTA’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Forward Funding, had a slightly different take.

“They’re doing it because they’re bankrupt, that’s pretty much what it comes down to,” he said.

Chieppo, who recently authored a report outlining steps the MBTA should take to increase ridership and reduce operating costs, said he was unsure whether or not the fare hike will lead to improved service, as the MBTA projects. He expressed certainty, however, that “people that don’t have a lot of disposable income” were most likely to suffer from the price increase.

Gene A. Corbin, assistant dean of student life for public service and manager of Harvard College’s Phillips Brooks House, agreed.

“Our larger concern is how these increases and costs will impact working families that we [at Phillips Brooks House] serve in the community,” he said. The Phillips Brooks House is the organization that supports public service efforts at Harvard College, including the student-run Phillips Brooks House Association.

Corbin said that the fare hike will likely have a “small impact” in increasing transportation costs for student-led service programs whose members must frequently travel into Boston, but termed the price increase “nothing that we cannot overcome.”

—Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at hannah.natanson@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter@hannah_natanson.

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