Jan. 17, 2012
BOSTON — The public gets its first chance this week to weigh in on the MBTA's proposed fare hikes and service cuts — and we want you to weigh in with WGBH as well. Read some of your responses.
The MBTA has floated two plans, differing only in severity, to address its debt. Options include canceling some bus routes, eliminating night and weekend commuter rail service and ending the commuter ferry.
Community activist Lee Matsueda of the T Riders' Union was especially concerned about elderly transit users and riders with disabilities. He said the situation has worsened since the T was forced to foot the bill for Big Dig construction.
"The state legislature around 2000 made a very clear decision to say, 'You know what? We're going to transfer these transit projects that we made a commitment to onto the backs of riders,' and I think that's the part that has put us in a big downward spiral where almost $3 billion worth of projects are dropped onto the backs of the T and its riders," he said.
However, WGBH's State House reporter Sarah Birnbaum said that observers are wondering if it's a scare tactic — designed to strong-arm money out of the Legislature and to make the final plan look not so bad. No matter what, she said, fare hikes will probably go through.
Public hearings start tonight in Newton and Worcester, followed by a Jan. 18 meeting in Chelsea and a Jan. 19 meeting in Roxbury. (See the full schedule.)
What do you think of the proposed changes? What are your experiences with the MBTA? Leave a comment here, on our Facebook page or on Twitter @wgbhnews. Some responses so far...
- Daniel, via Twitter: "I'd rather a fare increase and ways to raise more ad revenue. The MBTA needs to get creative in raising money and service."
- DebRa, on Facebook: "It's a shame!!! So many people are out of work, everything is more expensive and we do not need another hike of any kind nor service cuts!"
- Karol, on Facebook: "I listened to the debate about the service cuts on the TV and they justified saying that it is less expensive than NY transportation. But the subway in NYC is so much better and covers a bigger area that what the T does in Boston. If the plan is approved, for the service we will receive, it will definitely be more expensive than NY."
Link source: Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership
MATTAPAN: LOSING THE LINE?
tom commented on 02.07.12
Sorry to have to disagree with Robert, but the MBTA is out of money and can no longer pay 3.2 Million a year to a private boat company to ferry people in and out of the most elite sections of the city. The majority of the people in these communities have access to cars, buses and trains. People in the poorest sections of city have no other means of transportation. They need the buses and the trains, to get to work, buy their groceries and see their doctors when needed. It is also common knowledge that it cost more per person to take a ferry than it does to accomindate those same passengers on the buses and trains that the MBTA is already providing for in the first place!
Stephen commented on 01.20.12
Being a member of the T-Riders' Union in Chelsea, I've heard propsals that sound either long overdue or absolutely absurd. One thing I've wondered about for years, for I used to take the T at Wood Island Station - WHY ARE THE LIGHTS ON DURING BRIGHT, SUN-LITE DAYS, YEAR-ROUND? I'm not sure if I can even imagine the light bill that the T must be paying annually. This is an open-air station along with many others. I'm sure if these so-thought pundits got off their buttocks and got onto the T, they could find many cash eating problems that could at least help reduce the high percentages they're proposing for fare hikes and/or service cuts. Push aside the engineers and do some foot-work.
John commented on 01.19.12
In 1970, Merrill Lynch published a report ranking the cost per mile to run each of the nations transit systems. The MTA was the most expensive and had TWICE the cost/mile of the second highest: New York City. I would be willing to wager that the same is true today. The reason: outrageous salaries and benefits for its union members. Go where the real savings are. Reclassify all the positions to make them match private industry; give them a 401k like the rest of us instead of being able to retire at age 40 with 20 years service, only to be able to then double dip on a State job and collect a second pension. There would be no need to cut services if the real source of the problem were dealt with: egregious salaries & benefits. Today's unemployed would welcome a shot at an MBTA job much below current salaries. Put salaries etc out to bid and see what the response is. Jack Spadafora
Robert commented on 01.19.12
One of the cheapest ways to commute is the ferry. Adding debt service to operating costs, the cost to move a passenger by ferry is far cheaper than by rail. Indeed, the ferries used to be privately -- and profitably -- run before being synced into the MBTA system. Now, to pay for years of fiscal mismanagement, the T plans to eliminate the most efficient part of its creaky system. It is infuriatingly stupid and short-sighted. Exactly what one expects from these can-kickers.
Eric commented on 01.19.12
It seems every public transportation systems eventually makes this same mistake: They look at the short term situation and decide to raise fares and cut service. What would happen to a regular business that tried that approach? Say for instance your favorite restaurant decided to raise prices and lower food quality? They would start down a vicious spiral towards bankruptcy. And why does the T think their plan would turn out differently? Because they think they are a monopoly and people don't have another choice. In a narrow sense and in the short term they are correct; but in the long term, hollowing out service only reduces ridership and forces commuters and other riders to fall back to worse solutions, such as driving a car into the city. Looking at root causes, I see it as a political trick to force the MBTA to foot the bill for the Big Dig. The T was fine system that always seemed to be doing well and keeping its head above water is now forced to fight for its life by entering an economic black hole. I'll bet the people who voted for this financial "solution" to the Big Dig debt never use the T. They are simply shifting a broad public burden to a smaller and less powerful constituency. And they don't care about the consequences to the rest of us. Sincerely, --Eric Peters