Will higher fares mean better service?
That's the magic question when it comes to the MBTA. But the answer should be yes.
Come July 1, commuters will pay more to ride the subway and commuter rail when a fare increase the MBTA's fiscal control board approved Monday goes into effect.
On average, riders will pay roughly 6 percent more. A monthly commuter rail pass from Beverly to Boston will cost $18 more. From Haverhill or Gloucester to Boston, monthly passes will cost $23.50 more, and from Newburyport to Boston, it's an extra $25 a month.
It might not seem like much to some, but the fare hike adds up. Those north of Boston who rely on the train to get to work or school will end up paying an additional $200 to $300 a year on transportation.
For the MBTA, which has a budget that's nearing $2.1 billion, the increases are expected to bring in roughly $30 million in annual revenue.
State law limits MBTA fare hikes to 7 percent over a two-year period, and the board agreed not to raise rates for at least three years. The last rate hike was in 2016.
Still, while commuters shell out more to ride, the service doesn't seem to change. Riders on Monday at the Beverly Depot described spotty Wi-Fi, late trains due to so-called mechanical issues and inconsistent ticket checks — all complaints we've heard before.
Jennifer Andrews, a college professor who lives in Gloucester, said she counted seven different MBTA employees checking tickets on her train Monday afternoon.
It's in stark contrast to widespread reports of free rides on the day of the New England Patriots' Super Bowl victory parade, which set a record last month for commuter rail ridership.
The MBTA says it plans to spend $8 billion over the next five years on its infrastructure, including upgrades to tracks and signals.
Now, let's get people to work on time.