BOSTON -- Public transit riders in the Boston area could face fare increases of up to 33 percent or dramatic reductions in service unless the state provides additional funding for the financially-strapped system, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials said Tuesday.
Facing a projected $140 million deficit in the fiscal year starting July 1, the MBTA is hoping Gov. Deval Patrick and the Legislature will agree on a long-term fix for the agency's chronic budget shortfalls. But with the T required to present a balanced budget to its board of directors by April 15, officials outlined several options for closing the gap.
Under one scenario that would rely solely on fare increases, average fares would rise 33 percent, on top of last year's 23 percent increase that helped close a $160 million deficit. The "all fare" approach would see bus fares go from $1.50 to $2, and subway fares from $2 to $2.60. Commuter rail increases would vary by region. Another scenario would use a combination of fare increases and service cuts to close the deficit.
MBTA officials said they believed they could reduce the projected deficit to $115-$120 million through a series of cost savings and other measures, but that it would be impossible to totally wipe out the gap by cutting overhead alone.
Patrick's state budget proposal includes a call to permanently eliminate the MBTA's operating deficits while also providing for "modest" service enhancements.