GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 2, 2013

Advocates urge youth, senior MBTA breaks

BOSTON — Claiming the July 2012 MBTA and paratransit fare hikes have left many choosing between travel and other necessities, advocates are pressing their case for limits on what certain groups pay.

“A lot of times, I can’t afford the T and this affects every aspect of my life,” said Luis Navarro, a 16-year-old Dorchester resident. “The T’s a lifeline for youth, and because of our age and income we rely on the T for everything, for education and safe travel at night.”

With another round of fare increases possible next summer, elder advocates called on the Legislature this week to adjust the current pricing structure.

“It is not affordable for those who need it now and those of us who might need it tomorrow,” Ann Stewart, the 89-year-old former president of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, told state transportation officials.

In 2012, faced with a roughly 10 percent budget deficit, the MBTA held public hearings around the state before raising fares an average of 23 percent and receiving additional state money to bail out the system.

The hikes also came along with increases on the MBTA’s commuter rail service, which serves Cape Ann with a line to and through Manchester, West Gloucester, Gloucester and Rockport stations. But the MBTA backed off threatened weekend and other rail service cutbacks after a number of Cape Ann and other residents — and groups such as the Cape Ann Chamber Service — decried the potential cuts as slicing into Cape Ann’s tourism lifeline, especially during summer months.

The July 2012 fare hikes, however, increased rates disproportionately for seniors, whose fares within the main MBTA system increased from a 40-cent bus ride and a 60-cent subway ride to a 75-cent bus ride and a $1 subway charge. Students saw a lesser increase, with the bus going from 60 cents to 85 cents and the subway rising from 75 cents to $1.

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