A regular bus trip for adults would increase from $1.25 to $1.60, with more increases planned in 2021 and 2024.
Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, chair of the PVTA Advisory Board, said he's not in favor of raising fares, but said it may be needed to balance the budget.
Still, Narkewicz said a fare hike doesn't go very far in helping the bottom line.
"Ridership is price-sensitive to fares, particularly because PVTA serves a significant low-income population," he said. "And so the concern has been that... the return in terms of revenue is somewhat offset by the fact that there will be a potential drop in ridership because of the raise in fares."
Narkewicz said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation asked the agency to consider the fare hike, which would be its first in a decade.
He said it may be possible to avoid the increase and some service cuts if the legislature provides more funding than the governor requested.
The PVTA is holding public meetings and accepting feedback on the proposed changes through March 14.
Facing a much smaller deficit last year, the PVTA proposed eliminating up to eight bus routes. After the public hearings, it significantly scaled back the plan.