Cap Brooks T Sutherland

28 Feb 19
Boston Herald
Transportation experts eyeing an MBTA proposal to hike fares by 6 percent are calling on the agency to look at strategies that work for other big-city transit authorities. “Holistically, we shouldn’t be talking about raising fares for the T and not for TNC’s (ride share services),” said Josh Fairchild, the co-founder and acting president of TransitMatters, an advocacy group that opposes the fare increases. “Every rider who leaves the T is actually moving more congestion to the roads … we need to think about what other cities are doing.” Fairchild says a three-hour window for multiple rides on a single fare, similar to how Houston provides service, could be a way for the T to convince customers to get on board with fare increases. “When you’re raising the price and not improving service, the question becomes, what is the rider getting out of this?” said Fairchild. “Other cities have daily caps, which helps riders who can’t afford out-of-pocket.” Chris Dempsey, the director of Transportation for Massachusetts, said though his coalition hasn’t taken an official stance on the hikes, they’re becoming concerned about what the pricing would do to ridership and the city’s growing congestion, recently voted worst in the country by an INRIX study. He agreed that the T could provide other incentives to convince its riders to pay more. “If prices go up and the service stays the same, there’s going to be frustration,” Dempsey said. “It’s good for business if you can get off and run a few errands and get back on. You’re more likely to pay for a ride.” Charlie Chieppo, a transportation watchdog at the Pioneer Institute, said rate hikes are “a necessity.” “I’d like to see a system that’s a lot more streamlined and effective. But a lot of good work has been done since 2015 and when the new Orange Line cars hit, I think people will see some of that,” Chieppo said. He suggested not increasing rates for low-income people and seniors. “Places like Seattle do a good job of rolling out systems for low-income folks to pay less to avoid losing ridership,” Chieppo said. Staci Rubin, a senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, agrees. Saying hikes should be “fair, modest and necessary,” Rubin said increases result in decreased ridership. “We have to maintain affordability for low-income folks, people of color, and seniors.” The MTA in New York voted Wednesday to increase rates for seven- and 30-day passes, but elected to keep its base bus and subway fare at $2.75. In October, the Chicago Transit Authority announced it would not increase base fares, which remain at $2.50 for train and $2.25 for bus, or multi-day passes. The Metro in Washington, D.C., also elected in October not to increase prices and recommended reducing fares to $2 on weekends.
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