BOSTON – More than a dozen members of the Central Massachusetts Caucus recently submitted a bipartisan letter to the Fiscal and Management Control Board citing concerns about a fare proposal by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) that would increase fares by an average of 6.3 percent starting on July 1, 2019.
The City of Worcester is located within Zone 8 of the Commuter Rail fare table. Presently, a one-way ticket from Worcester to Boston costs $11.50. The proposed increase would raise the fare by $0.75 to $12.25 for a one-way ticket. The MBTA has based the proposed fare increases on the rate of inflation in the Boston area.
“It’s counterintuitive to invest in the cultural and economic development of a gateway city such as Worcester while simultaneously hiking public transit service fares,” said Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury), who serves as Co-Chair of the Caucus. “As the Heart of the Commonwealth continues to grow, the influx of new businesses and entrepreneurs into our community means we must be prepared to support a strong public transportation system.”
“This fare increase would burden our residents who cannot afford transportation alternatives,” said State Representative James J. O’Day (D-West Boylston) who serves as the other Co-Chair of the Caucus. “These financial barriers would hurt businesses and limit the access of talented members of the workforce to jobs in different neighborhoods of the Commonwealth.”
“I’m very concerned about the impact this fare increase will have on our community, especially for working commuters and low-income residents,” said State Representative Mary S. Keefe (D-Worcester). “Commuter rail riders already faced increased parking rates last summer. We need to encourage people to use our public transit systems by incentivizing their ridership, rather than pricing them out.”
In their letter, lawmakers state that a uniform approach to raising fares across the MBTA system will result in a disproportionate impact for riders in the region. If approved, the fare increases would also encourage residents to seek alternate means of transportation, such as bus service from Worcester to Boston by a private carrier or commuting in private vehicles, which would lead to further traffic, emission and public safety issues.
The legislators also expressed concern that none of the public hearings regarding the fare proposal were located in the City of Worcester; New England’s second largest city which contributes to the second-highest Commuter Rail ridership numbers in the Commonwealth that have increased by 45.7 percent since 2012. The letter requests that the MBTA hold a public hearing in Worcester prior to the deadline for public comment on February 28, 2019.
The Fiscal and Management Control Board is expected to vote on the fare increases during a meeting scheduled for March 11, 2019. For additional information about the proposal, and to submit public comment, please visit: https://www.mbta.com/fare-proposal-2019.