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POLL: T Riders Could Face Steep Fare Hike, Service Cuts

The MBTA on Tuesday unveiled a plan to balance the 2013 budget that would include fare hike and service cuts for commuter rail riders on the North Shore.

Commuter rail riders on the North Shore could be facing a 23 to 44 percent hike in fares later this year under a new fare structure proposed by the MBTA on Tuesday.

The proposal also includes completing eliminating weekend commuter rail service as well as cutting all train service after 10 p.m. on weeknights.

Salem and Beverly stations are the second and third most-used stations, respectively, across the entire commuter rail network in eastern Massachusetts. About 20 hearings have been scheduled in the coming weeks to hear feedback on the proposal. If approval by T leaders, the changes would go into place on July 1.

Under the proposal, a one-way trip from Salem to North Station in Boston, for example, would go from $5.25 to either $7 or $7.50. There's two scenarios on the table with both calling for identical service cuts to commuter rail. The difference is mainly in the level of bus service cuts, with the lower proposed rate coming with a plan that would involve greater cuts to bus service.

All the proposed rates are outlined - for both single ride tickets and monthly passes - in a chart at the bottom of this article.

The fare hikes and service cuts are needed to help balance the fiscal 2013 budget, according to the T.

While the T estimates the changes will likely drop commuter rail ridership by 20 percent, the savings from eliminated service and fare increases would more than make up for it. Plus, the T says that some commuter rail riders may instead switch to subway service by driving to stops along the blue and orange line, for example.

The service cuts would likely reduce commuter rail trips by 4.3 million annually – or about 11.7 percent of all commuter rail trips, according to the T.

No increases are being proposed for parking rates.

There are also more subtle changes being contemplated in the more than 40 pages of changes and analysis.

The 12-ride ticket on commuter rail would be cut and commuter rail tickets would be valid for only 14 days after purchase, versus the existing 180 days.

But, off-peak train riders would actually save money (versus the new proposed rate structure) with a 25 percent discount off the single-ride fare for all midday and reverse-commute train trips.

Lastly, anyone who doesn’t buy a ticket before boarding would pay a $3 surcharge, up from $1 (off-peak) and $2 (peak) now.

One-way fares

Community Current rate Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Beverly $5.75 $8.25 $7.50 Hamilton-Wenham $6.25 $9 $8.25 North Beverly $6.25 $9 $8.25 Salem $5.25 $7.50 $7 Swampscott $5.25 $7.50 $7

Monthly Passes

Community Current Pass Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Beverly $186 $258 $235 Hamilton-Wenham $210 $282 $259 North Beverly $210 $282 $259 Salem $163 $234 $219 Swampscott $163 $234 $219
KlassySalem January 04, 2012 at 08:11 PM
An interesting part of the report was the expected traffic and environmental impacts of the proposed changes. They predict between 430k and 626k more miles driven in autos per weekday, with an increase in most auto related air pollutants of about .5% each and every weekday as well. The slashing of bus service to the north shore is arguably even more severe than the cutting of commuter rail service.
Leese January 04, 2012 at 10:04 PM
This is yet another nail in the "why live in Salem" coffin for many Salem residents, already considering life elsewhere because of high taxes, a closing power plant, low performing schools, and once quiet residential neighborhoods that now boast police blotters which read more like Lynn's.
CarleaSkunkrawk January 05, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Another reason to hate this state, let alone Salem. Public Transit should use be encouraged. No instead let's drive more places and use more gas.
Peter McMillan January 05, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Time to move back into Boston

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