CITY HALL — Facing a $6.4 million deficit, Big Blue Bus officials say they need to increase fares to avoid cutting service.

But after an earlier fare hike proposal drew criticism from members of the City Council who said it would unduly burden senior citizens, they’ve come up with a revised fare hike plan that softens the blow for elderly bus riders and others who live on fixed incomes.

The new proposal, set to come before the council tonight, would increase fares for ordinary riders to $1.25 from 75 cents.

For seniors, the disabled and those on Medicare, a bus ticket would cost 50 cents — 10 cents less than the earlier proposal but still double the current rate of 25 cents.

Seniors, the disabled and Medicare recipients could also get day passes for $1.50, instead of $2, and 30-day passes for $24, instead of $30, under the revised proposal.

Discounted transfers between Big Blue Buses have also been restored in the new plan. For seniors, a transfer would cost 25 cents, up from 10 cents, and for regular riders they would cost 50 cents.

The increase would net $2.5 million in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, and $3.4 million during 2011-12, according to a City Hall report.

The plan also includes 30-day pass options for regular riders that offer savings for those who take frequent bus trips. BBB officials hope the passes will make fare collection more efficient by cutting down on the number of passengers who pay with cash.

BBB Director Stephanie Negriff said the revised proposal is a better plan than earlier versions and will solve the bus system’s structural deficit through 2013.

“I think it really reflects the concerns that we’ve heard from the community and also concerns that were raised at our council meeting on April 27,” she said.

nickt@smdp.com