After all of the talk, public hearings, and protests over the past three months, the MBTA Board voted Wednesday afternoon to boost fares 23 percent and cut back service in an attempt to close a projected $161 million deficit in the next fiscal year.
Board members approved a plan in a 4-1 vote that would raise most subway fares by 30 cents, bus fares by 25 cents, and commuter rail fares by at least $1.25.
Meanwhile, some cuts in service—mainly involving bus routes, The Ride and the Commuter Rail—were also approved. Locally, weekend Commuter Rail service on the Needham Line will be cut, but Bus 59 will continue to operate on its usual schedule.
Many people showed up at Wednesday's hearing on Beacon Hill and were given a chance to talk during a one-hour "public speaking" session before the vote. They also chanted a chorus of "Shame on You!" after the vote was taken.
The plan that was approved was the third budget proposal after . Those plans were presented in dozens of public hearings across the state where they faced strong opposition from the public. In Needham, the Transportation Committee held an in which several local residents argued against the first two proposals.
Meanwhile, several groups continued to protest this latest budget plan, including an into Wednesday morning.
An "Occupy" group was also planning to hold a "people's hearing" outside the Statehouse Wednesday at 3 p.m., followed by a 5 p.m. rally and 8 p.m. vigil.
Wednesday's vote takes care of the projected deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1 but does not get rid of the agency was given in 2000. Critics have said the state should bail out the troubled transportation department.
A recent Boston Globe poll showed that 40 percent of Massachusetts voters supported a state bailout for the MBTA.
The Needham Board of Selectmen recently to the town's state legislators encouraging them to find new solutions to the MBTA's budget problems.