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Public Process for Fare Increase

Proposed changes to a fare restructuring, and/or a fare increase will be developed with significant public input and will be adopted after consultation with the Rider Oversight Committee, public workshops, public comment and at least one designated public hearing, and MBTA Board of Directors approval.1  In addition, this public process shall be followed, to the extent applicable, for proposed major service reductions, defined as a systemwide reduction of 10% or more, as measured by typical daily usage.  Proposed changes in fares and service reductions may be consolidated for purposes of this public process.2

The public process shall include (but is not limited to) the following steps:

1. The MBTA will provide public notification of proposals of any of the following types:

• Changes to the fare structure
• A fare increase
• Major service reductions. 

At the time of notification, the MBTA will issue a schedule for a public outreach process, provide background information on the reasons for the proposed changes, and provide preliminary summary documents (including preliminary and summary impact analyses that address revenue and ridership).
2. The MBTA will hold public workshops to discuss the proposed changes and solicit direct input from the public.  For major changes to the fare structure, or a systemwide fare increase of 10% or more (or a system-wide fare increase of less than ten percent that results in a cumulative increase of ten percent or more within a three year period)3, at least ten workshops will be held in the following areas:

• Downtown Boston – 2 meetings
• Metropolitan Urban Neighborhoods – 3 meetings
• Metropolitan Suburban Communities – 4 meetings
• I-495 corridor – 1 to 3 meetings 

For minor changes to the fare structure, or for a fare increase of less than 10%, the MBTA will hold up to five public workshops, to be located where feasible in areas most affected by the changes.  The public workshops will be followed by a public comment period, during which the public can submit feedback in writing via mail, email or the MBTA website.  The MBTA may designate one or more of the public workshops as a public hearing or hearings for purposes of ¶ 3.

3. As part of the public process, the MBTA will make available via the MBTA website its most recent § 11 reports to the Governor, Legislature, and Advisory Board, as well as any draft report or analysis addressing revenue, ridership, air quality, and environmental justice impacts   Following the availability or posting of such materials, the MBTA will hold at least one public hearing, which shall be held in a central location or locations within the MBTA service district.  At any such hearing, the MBTA will make a formal presentation regarding the proposed changes, and the public will have the opportunity to provide testimony on the proposals for the public record. 

4. Following the public workshops and hearing(s), the MBTA may make revisions to the draft documents, based on the comments received through the public workshops, comment period and hearing(s).  The revised drafts and a summary of the public comments will be submitted to the MBTA Advisory Board and Board of Directors for review.  The summary of comments, with MBTA responses, will be made available to the public on the MBTA website.

5. In connection with a proposed system-wide fare increase of ten percent or more, the MBTA Board of Directors will make environmental findings.  Such findings will include: the purpose and need of a fare increase; actions taken to avoid a fare increase; the impacts of the fare increase, including economic, transportation, air quality, and environmental justice; alternatives to a fare increase, including impacts of no fare increase; and measures to reduce impacts.  Environmental consideration of major service reductions shall be conducted in accordance with applicable law.

6. The Board of Directors will make a final vote on the proposed changes after considering the overall financial condition of the MBTA, the ridership and revenue implications of the changes, the staff’s summary of public comments, the air quality and environmental justice analyses, and comments from the MBTA Advisory Board.  Except where the Board of Directors determines that the condition of the MBTA requires prompt action, the Board of Directors vote will not take place until at least 15 days after the summary of public comments has been made available.

Public notifications will be placed in citywide and community newspapers, on the MBTA website, on transit vehicles, and via station signage.  Documents will be made available electronically on the MBTA website (formatted for easy download) and in hard copy at local libraries throughout the service area.  Reasonable measures will be taken to assure that notifications are made to appropriate groups of persons with limited English proficiency (LEP).

Public workshops and hearing(s) will be scheduled Monday – Thursday, will be held at times that are convenient for commuters and transit dependent riders, and will take place at locations that are within walking distance of MBTA services.


 1. The MBTA may, without action by the MBTA Board of Directors, determine and, from time to time, adjust or suspend fares for occasional, short-term service related to special events, to promote the use of a particular service, or where, in the judgment of the General Manager, such action is required by considerations of the public safety or convenience. The MBTA may also provide pilot programs to test the effectiveness of different types of fare discounts before seeking Board approval for permanent implementation.

 2. The Public Process described herein is intended to apply primarily to service reductions that may be proposed and/or considered in conjunction with changes in fare levels or fare structure.  Nothing herein is intended to alter the process applicable to general service planning as described in the MBTA’s Service Delivery Policy, adopted January 14, 2009.     

 3. The percent of fare increase represents the percent of additional fare revenue realized by the MBTA as a result of increased fares. Thus, with a system-wide fare increase of ten percent, riders on some services may experience an increase of more than ten percent and others less.

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