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MBTA, MassDOT recommend 23 percent fare hike and service cuts

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) have recommended a final proposal calling for a 23 percent fare increase and targeted service reductions to reduce the transit agency’s budget deficit.

The proposal, which will be recommended to the MBTA board at its April 4 meeting, follows several months of public meetings and hearings at which staff gathered comments on two earlier proposals to close the agency’s projected deficit of up to $185 million in fiscal-year 2013.

In recent months, MBTA staff came up with a series of savings and efficiencies to reduce the initial deficit by $33 million to $159 million. In working with MassDOT, they found an additional $75 million in savings through operating, administrative and financial changes to reduce the final deficit to $84 million. The remaining deficit would be addressed by a 23 percent overall fare hike and targeted service cuts, in addition to one-time revenues, MBTA officials said in a prepared statement.

The fare increase, which would generate $72.9 million in revenue, would be MBTA’s first fare hike in more than five years, they said.

The proposed service reductions include eliminating the E Branch weekend service between Brigham Circle and Health Street on the Green Line, and eliminating weekend commuter-rail service on the Needham, Kingston/Plymouth and Greenbush lines.

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More News from 3/29/2012