MBTA Nixes Fare Hike For At Least One Year

A proposal to raise public transportation fares failed at a meeting of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) yesterday, said MBTA spokesperson Peter Dimond.

The proposed fare hikes were part of a $12.4 million cost-cutting plan that would have raised the T fare from 75 to 90 cents, increased the bus fare from 50 to 60 cents, required elderly and disabled passengers to pay half-price instead of their current 10-cent fare and cut back some services.

The fare increases were proposed by the MBTA advisory board's finance committee, and were voted down by a meeting of the full advisory board, Dimond said. The MBTA will still have to make cuts in order to meet its budget requirements, but will decide where to make those cuts "sometime next year," he said.

Some environmental groups had opposed the proposal, saying it would discourage many passengers from using public transportation.

Andrew W. Hamilton, staff scientist at the non-profit Conservation Law Foundation, said his group, which defends the environment through legal channels, opposed the fare increase because of its potentially negative repercussions on air quality and traffic. The Conservation Law Foundation had estimated that 75,000 passengers would stop riding the T if the fare was increased.

"We're fundamentally opposed to anything that decreases public transportation use," Hamilton said. But he said that if the MBTA produces a proposal that increases fares but ensures continued subway patronage, "we won't stand in their way."

Hamilton said he thinks the MBTA shot down the price increase proposal yesterday in reponse to widespread negative public sentiment.

"I assume [the MBTA] read the political winds, and made the correct decision," Hamilton said, citing Gov. Michael S. Dukakis's highly-vocalized opposition to the plan. "We're not terribly surprised, but we're glad to hear it."