Once you get a Charlie Card (trivially available at the Porter Star, even though the MBTA tells you it’s only 7am-7pm), it’s very nice. Particularly, rates for me have gone down with the changeover. The card supports automatic transfers: after paying $1.25 to use the bus, I was automatically charged only $0.45 to use the T. Coming home tonight, I expect to pay $1.70 for the T and receive a free bus-ride. The old paper transfers are gone, and the rate for a combined bus+T ride has dropped from $2.15 to $1.70.
Yes, the rate for just a subway ride has risen from $1.25 to $1.70.