Downeaster could see fare hikes of up to $6 for an individual ticket
Maine's passenger rail authority is proposing to increase Downeaster fares for the first time since 2019. Executive Director Patricia Quinn says the increases are necessary to keep up with inflation which, she says, "has gone gangbusters" in the last 4 years.
Under the proposal, individual tickets might go up as much as $6, while multiride passes will increase by $10, but the proposal would also bring the concept of "dynamic pricing," to Downeaster tickets. Quinn says the most popular trains might see fares increase by $6, but less popular runs might even see fares go down.
"The goal is to maximize the total utility of the train and to minimize the subsidy," Quinn says. The authority will seek public input on the proposed fare increase before taking a final vote on it.
When the pandemic struck, Downeaster service was halted for several weeks and ridership remained below 2019 levels until recently. But Quinn told the rail authority's board Monday that in both July and August the Downeaster set new monthly records for ridership, with 57,876 people riding in July and 61,769 riding in August, an all-time monthly record for the service. And Quinn noted the August record was set even though ten trains had to be canceled.