MBTA officials hope to reduce fare for The Ride service; MassDOT officials to vote next month

MBTA officials announced Tuesday that they hope to reduce the fare for The Ride from $4 to $3 — a significant triumph for advocates who have argued that fare increases in July 2012 had a traumatic impact on the lives of senior citizens and people with disabilities who rely on the T’s door-to-door paratransit service.

The announcement was made at Tuesday’s Massachusetts Department of Transportation finance committee meeting, where members said they planned to recommend to the MassDOT board of directors that they approve the fare decrease at the Dec. 11 meeting.

MBTA assistant general manger Charles Planck said T officials had determined that reducing the fare — which had been $2 for a one-way ticket before the 2012 fare increases — was the fair thing to do. Planck said that the T’s estimates before the fare increase showed that use of The Ride would fall by 10 percent; instead, he said, it has decreased by 18.5 percent, proof that the fare hike was too steep.

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“The impact to ridership was significant,” Planck said.

Members of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council sitting in the audience at the meeting — some of whom had attended every MassDOT board meeting for the last 18 months to protest the fare hike — burst into applause.

If the fare decrease passes in December, it will likely go into effect in early January, Planck said. Dropping the fare for The Ride will likely cost the agency $1.5 million.

“We believe right now we will be able to accommodate this change in the budget,”said Jonathan R. Davis, the T’s chief financial officer.