MBTA Hearing on Fare Hikes Draws Criticism; Haverhill’s Vargas Calls Proposal ‘Deeply Unfair’

(Courtesy file photograph/MBTA)

The MBTA’s public hearing in Boston Wednesday night on proposed fare increases seemed to touch virtually every grievance and concern directed at the authority in recent years.

The State House News Service reports attendees shared stories of being late to work because trains were too full to let on new passengers and of standing on crowded platforms with no information about delays. They warned that the proposed hikes, which average about 6.3 percent, would disproportionately harm low-income commuters who rely on public transit. They cautioned that, by the T's own estimates, higher fares would drive down ridership and push more travelers onto already-crowded roads in carbon-spewing vehicles.

In total, dozens of elected officials, transit activists and residents spoke Wednesday, virtually all arguing against the fare hikes.

Haverhill state Rep. Andy Vargas is among those on Beacon Hill opposed to what would be the first fare hikes since 2016.

“It is reasonable to respect the need for further revenue to support the MBTA’s vital services to our regional economy. However, a fare increase is deeply unfair to riders. Raising the cost of public transit punishes commuters who are contributing the most to reduce traffic across the board,” Vargas told WHAV.

Should the increase take hold, Vargas worries the MBTA will inadvertently do more harm than good. “Already extreme traffic conditions will worsen and environmental burdens will increase—meaning we will subvert the reasons for strong public transit in the first place,” he said.

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