Nearly a month after the MBTA finalized its latest fare hike, 30 state lawmakers are still protesting it, arguing transit prices should remain at their current rate until the state finishes major construction projects involving the Tobin Bridge over the next two years.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers from north of Boston wrote in a letter to the T’s governing board that the 5.8 percent fare hike scheduled for July 1 will be “inconvenient, imprudent, and unfair” to motorists who begin using the transit system during construction.
“The dual burden of increased commute times and increased cost of public transportation intended to provide a potential [alternative] for commuters creates a significant dilemma for residents of Northeastern Massachusetts,” the lawmakers wrote. “Fairness dictates that for the duration of the Tobin Bridge and Route 1 repair project, affected commuters deserve relief rather than increased burdens.”
The group appears to have been led by Senate minority leader Bruce Tarr, a Republican from Gloucester, whose office distributed the letter to the press.
The T has said the fare hike — which will not apply to bus trips or discounted fares such as those for senior citizens and students — will raise nearly $30 million for the transit system. At the time, many lawmakers had also asked the T board to postpone the higher fares; some T board members responded by urging the Legislature to consider other funding sources for the system. In the letter Tuesday, the lawmakers did not recommend an alternative funding source.
The state has already agreed to some mitigation for riders who may be affected by the Tobin work. In Chelsea, inbound riders will be able to board the Silver Line for free. The transportation department has also promised to run more Blue Line service, but that would come at the new subway fare of $2.40.
An MBTA official appeared to reject the legislators’ request to delay the fare hike. Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the agency’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year is “structured around” the fare increase, and instead highlighted the T’s mitigation plans for North Shore riders.