T riders should brace for substantial fare increases

And that's just to pay for day to day operations, never mind replacing rustbucket trains on the Red and Orange Line, Rich Davey, our new statewide transportation czar, tells the Globe.

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Comments

I really don't understand

I really don't understand that attitude of the gas tax being a deal-breaker. The sales tax is borne on the backs of the poor.

I take the T everywhere, so I understand I have to do my part and pay an increased fare, but the idea that drivers shouldn't have to chip in for the roads they drive on is absurd.

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Gas tax

Amen to that. I understand the fare increase for the T, that's fine. Now increase the gas tax to pay for the roads. 'nuff said.

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argument

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The argument will be "but drivers pay enough" (to oil companies). I don't think its fair that T riders should have to fork over $ to pay for roads. We're already doing our part by NOT riding the roads, why should we have to pay for it too?

I'm well aware that the T is hurting for money and a fare increase is inevitable. The T is still one of the cheaper transit systems in the US. But I think 100% of the fare increase should go to the T, not toward the rest of our bankrupt MassDOT agency. The T has a multitude of problems that need to be fixed with more income, lets fix them before we give away money to other failing state agencies.

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We're already doing our part

We're already doing our part by NOT riding the roads, why should we have to pay for it too?

Well, public transit users may not be driving cars on the roads, but we certainly use them. Many of us, for example, ride the Green Line or buses, which do in fact travel on roads.

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Oh good grief, you're really

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Oh good grief, you're really comparing the marginal MBTA use of public roads against the gajillion other people who drive their fat asses everywhere?

Terrible. Cripes.

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C'mon, there's no need for

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C'mon, there's no need for hyperbole. Some people would use mass transit if it were a realistic option. I don't want to sit in traffic for an hour plus, both morning and night. But I also don't want to take a bus, two different subway lines, and a commuter train for two hours, both morning and night. That's anecdotal, I know, but there are surely others out there like me. In any case, the buses do have an effect on both pollution and road surface wear and tear. Not as much on a per passenger basis or per mile basis, but they do have an effect. To deny that is just being obstinate because you like to feel morally superior those damn "fat asses" in their cars.

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Pardon my cynicism

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But an outfit (Mass DOT) with a past history that includes the Big Dig, Matt Amorello, James Aloisi, Trellis Stepter (aide to Alice Wolf, six figures in the DOT, no Massachusetts license) doesn't exactly inspire me with confidence that an increase in the gas tax will be spent wisely.

These guys need to establish a little credibility before they come around rattling that particular cup. And it doesn't help that Deval began Car Free to Work week by climbing into his (our!) Cadillac, when he lives walking distance from the Red Line.

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Mike Dukakis took the T every

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Mike Dukakis took the T to work often when he was Gov. Though his wife was driven in a private car everywhere.

Maybe for Patrick, security costs are too high or the trains break down too often for him to ride the T to work every day.

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Bill Weld was specificaly told NOT to use the T

He preferred to hop on the red line - his security folks told him NO.

I suspect Patrick was told the same.

The whole "cadilac" thing is racist bullcarp, btw - would he be called BMW or Lexus Deval if he spent MORE money on a vehicle made outside the country?

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And we have a winner!

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Swirly Girl, thanks so much for playing!

Can't criticize Deval without somebody throwing out the racism charge really early in the game. Because, gasp, he's African American. Criticism is definetly not allowed.

Kind of makes you wonder who's the one that's hung up on the race issue here....

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You can criticize Patrick all you want

Just leave the racist buzzwords out of it and we'll all be fine.

In fact, we will all be better of because we'll be talking about actual issues that actually matter, not about how the governor *GASP* selected a *GASP* vehicle that *GASP* met the *GASP* specifications he was given by his security staff just like *GASP* ANY OTHER GOVERNOR WOULD HAVE TO DO.

When it comes to criticizing Deval Patrick, even for the sake of just whining, there is plenty there to work with. No need for the Tea Party Dog Whistles.

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Thanks for the go-ahead

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Nice to have your permission for future posts. Thanks. And I'll alert the proper authorities at the Ministry of Truth that the word "Cadillac" has officially entered the lexicon of racist slurs.
The people at General Motors may be surprisd to hear it, but once I accuse them of racism, they're sure to fold up and all in line.

And "OTHER GOVERNORs? Michael Dukakis had a pretty funny looking Cadillac. It was green and said MBTA on the side. But don't let facts get in the way.

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Two things

1) I always thought the racist car-term was Pontiac, not Cadillac. In fact the Secret Service got some flak a while back when Jesse Jackson, a presidential candidate at the time, when they have Jackson the code name "Pontiac"

2) as for the play on words with the Cadillac thing, I"m pretty sure it has everything to do with our governor's first name Deval (DeVille, as in Coupe DeVille). If his name was Benny M. Washington, and ordered a car from Bavarian Motor Works, he'd be known by some as BMW.

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Once Again

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A white guy explains away the racism for us.

Thank you white guy!

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Count me in the "Amen"

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Count me in the "Amen" corner. It's especially ridiculous given how the MB-frickin'-TA is saddled with the Big Dig debts. I take the 326 bus every day, and my commute is clogged with all the drivers who aren't paying a dime for the debt on the tunnel they're entering. Time they took up a fair share of it.

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"saddled with the Big Dig

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"saddled with the Big Dig debts"

Once again, I'll point out that this is not true.

The T is paying the debt on *transit* improvement projects. These were required as part of the environmental mitigation of the Big Dig. But the T isn't paying the debt on the highway itself.

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Bullshot

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No mitigations, no highway.

And THEY DIDN'T EVEN BUILD THE MITIGATIONS! That's why they GOT SUED and HAVE to build the green line extension - which was ONE of the mitigations!

Get a clue, asshat.

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Seriously. In Germany, gas

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Seriously. In Germany, gas taxes add up to more than 10 times what they are in Massachusetts, taking both state and federal taxes into account (about $0.48 cents per gallon vs $6.50 per gallon). And yet, they have a robust transportation infrastructure and automobile industry, while the US has neither. I don't see why the idea of raising the gas tax, even just a little, after 20 years, seems to be so politically infeasible. Sure, maybe we don't need to go to Germany's level, but just raising it a little would help to raise a lot more revenues and reduce usage, and thus wear and tear, on the roads.

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Never forget that it was

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Never forget that it was Charlie Baker who created the MBTA debt problem.

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Infrastructure needs advocates

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In short, Davey needs to sucessfully make the not novel argument (which he now can, as he oversees both the Highway division and the T) that drivers benefit by having a good transit system, because for every person on the T, there are fewer cars on the road between them and their destination. Since the T cannot be improved without additional revenues, drivers should support a modest gas tax increase (preferably phased in over a number of years). So many people I know would rather take the T, but it is simply too unreliable for them to do so, so they stomach car-related costs that far outstrip even what increased MBTA fares would bring.

Incidentally, I don't care if it begins with Guzzi at the Chamber, or one of the many technology industry groups, but a constituency has to be built that will advocate for infrastructure improvements. If you haven't read Paul Levy's recent article in CommonWealth on this point, you should.

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Excellent article - thanks for the link

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Illustrated the importance of constituency building as part of infrastructure management in a rational yet visceral way I have not encountered before. Hope the right people at the MBTA and the State House have gotten copies of this.

p.s the article may have been a good read, but the web designer for CWM should be taken out and flogged. Sans serif body text, static sized text boxes, typos galore. What an effing disaster.

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It's about damn time. Boston

It's about damn time. Boston fares have been lower than similar sized systems for years now.

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The reasons for that:

Poor area coverage for rapid transit
Limited hours
Random Bus omission as a cost savings move
Overall unreliable performance

Hard to tell people to pay more when the T makes them late to work on a regular basis.

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Not really. $1.70 is

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Not really. $1.70 is basically in the middle for U.S. subway systems.

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End road subsidies first!

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Then we can talk about fare increases.

Every dollar spent subsidizing roads is another dollar that entices people to use cars instead of the T. Net result: less fare revenue for the T.

Then to make up the gap, the T is forced to increase fares and cut back service -- which drives people away more!

End road subsidies -- stop hiding the costs of driving!

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Dear chicken The gas tax

Dear chicken

The gas tax subsidizes public transportation. Public transportation fares do not subsidize roads.

And while you're at it, look around the room you're in right now. It's a good bet that everything you see was brought there by truck. Unless, that is, you picked up a rock outside and put it on your desk. Without that truck freight system, and the roads that support it, you'd probably die in about a week or two.

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What state do you live in?

The MBTA is saddled with debt from the road building phase of the big dig.

Can you point to where an how much the gas tax subsidizes the T? I'd like to read up on that.

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You can keep repeating that,

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You can keep repeating that, but it doesn't make it true.

The T is paying the debt on the *transit* projects which were part of the Big Dig's environmental mitigation, not for the highway itself.

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The MBTA debt is partially

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The MBTA debt is partially from building transit projects required as mitigation for the Big Dig. Its also from spending money on other transit projects not required by the Big Dig. MBTA debt money was not used to build the actual roadway.

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Confusion

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I think whitey's thinking of the sales tax, a portion of which I believe is supposed to go to the T.

I have no problem raising the gas tax or the T fares and these people don't get paid a whole heck of a lot of money so salaries are not the problem (although some featherbedding for sure with the extra car door people, the unnecessary customer service reps etc.). But they've got to address pension reform before looking for new revenue sources.

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So the fact that the T was

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So the fact that the T was burdened with millions in unrelated road construction debt doesn't concern you enough to highlight that topic? But pension reform is an issue?

Cripes. Cripes. Cripes.

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T Big Dig debt myth, three times in one thread

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Did you read the rest of the comments before you posted?

If you didn't, here you go, for the third time:

The T is paying the debt on *transit* improvement projects. These were required as part of the environmental mitigation of the Big Dig. But the T isn't paying the debt on the highway itself.

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Cripes is right

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Fer cripes sakes - don't be an idiot - or do you work for the T? The T should get nothing until they fix their internal problems - until then it's starve the beast. And I do think they should get some of the debt paid down so we can get some services - but I'm not in favor of giving them more money just so they can keep on keeping on. Fix the problems before you come to us for more money. The problems are not mutually exclusive, but you have to prioritize and the people are not an ATM for retired T workers.

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Starve the Beast

Is that why your children and your pets are underweight? You starve them if they aren't behaving?

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"fix the problem"

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The problem would be related to a pretty damn old system that needs to be replaced which takes .... waitfor it.... money. They could fire everyone that works at the T, deny them their pensions and it still wouldn't sum up to the numbers needed to replace the trains and upgrade the infrastructure. (And the system wouldn't work without the people.) The problem now is that so much of the money that does go to the T gets used on debt rather than the needs of the system. We can debate about the past and whose fault it is, but it doesn't change the present. A large chunk of that debt was dumped on the T from the Big Dig which was a highway project. That will never be paid off by T receipts, so what do we do? (Firing all the employees and hiring trained monkeys won't work either and will just make the trains that much more smelly.)

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Assurances

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If you can assure me the incremental funds will go to maintenance and paying down the debt - I'm fine with that. But these bureaucracies have a habit if taking care of themselves first. Pay raises - within reason as necessary to maintain a competent and motivated workforce. But the Post employment benefits issue needs to be addressed exclusive of incremental funds we might get from fare raises and other incremental outside sources like casinos etc. The history is they will use the new funds to maintain the status quo and then cry that they are broke.

And swrrly - I have no kids and I have a very poorly behaved and very fat 16 year old cat. He's the only thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night besides those garbage trucks in the alley. I would never starve him - I'm afraid of him ;-)

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MBTA salaries

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"these people don't get paid a whole heck of a lot of money so salaries are not the problem"

I think MBTA salaries are way too high.

But you can decide for yourself. Every MBTA employee's 2008 salary is listed at http://www.bostonherald.com/projects/mbta/ .

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In general

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No - these are not high salaries - a few exceptions - like a sheet metal worker making $100k - but the vast majority of these people make $40k-$80k. That's a pittance compared to health care bennies (about $15k) and pensions (a $60,000 a year pension at age 50 would require you to have $1 million or more in savings to pay for that). Salaries are the least of our worries.

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Freight

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But you already paid the gas tax indirectly when you purchased those items in your room. Part of the cost of the items covers shipping. Public transit users aren't dodging that cost.

For that matter, when grocery stores etc. have free parking, it is the public transit/walking users that are subsidizing the drivers, as part of the cost of the goods you purchase goes towards paying for the parking lot.

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You are quite simply incorrect

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The gas tax does not come anywhere close to paying for the roads.

http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2003/04transporta...

http://www.uspirg.org/home/reports/report-archives...

I am very happy for the truck freight system, and I feel that the costs of trucking should include sufficient maintenance for the roads they use. Especially since trucks do far more damage to the road than automobiles. Road damage is proportional to axle load raised to the 4th power.

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One part of the solution to the T's

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money woes is to once and for all eliminate the totally illogical divide between "operating" and "capital" accounts that presently exists at the MBTA.

Give manangement greater flexibility to allocate and spend all sources of available capital based on legitimate priorities - debt reduction being a key one here - instead of illogical "mandates" like more police for bag searches and signboards that generally do little more than regurgitate "nanny" messages or ads for the RMV.

If this one basic change were made, we wouldn't need to talk about fare increases.

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Much of the capital money

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Much of the capital money comes from the feds, which only allow it to be spent on capital projects. Every transit agencey in the country has an operating budget and a capital budget, its not just an MBTA thing.

If federal homeland security money pays for those bag searches, then the MBTA just can't allocate it to some other expense.

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In other words, you're OK with forcing the T

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to spend money on unnnecessary earmarks, which Congress is under considerable pressure from the public to eliminate, while legitimate needs go unmet. And the current system of "if you don't spend our money on a specific project, you'll lose it" enourages wasteful spending on unnecesary things.

Suppose your employer said, we'll pay you X, but you have to spend a portion of that money on Y. You can't use it for other things." This would be absurd, yet that's exactly what the T is forced to deal with.

I say make the money available, but let the people who actually run the system have the biggest say in how it is spent. In other words, let the T control their finances and spending priorities just like private companies and responsible homeowners do.

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These aren't earmarks, they

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These aren't earmarks, they are programs that require agencies to apply for the money.

Congress makes x number of dollars avialable for transit capital improvements and the MBTA applies to the FTA to get their share.
And it pays for lots of necesarry things like new locomotives, rebuilt bridges, improving access for the disabled to the system, etc.
Money for capital projects is also allocated to metropolitan areas to spend on projects they prioritize. But the key is, it is money for capital projects, not money for operating expenses. Having the federal government provide more money for operating expenses would have to change at the federal level for all agencies, its not just something the MBTA could do on their own (which you seem to think it is). My guess is that a making more money available to pay union wages in large metropolitan areas is not something the present Congress would be interested in.

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Yes, I understand exactly how the current system works

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My point is that the current system is broken and needs to be fixed.

What sense does it make to buy buses and trains, or construct new rail lines if there's no money to staff those buses and trains and rail lines. What sense does it make to upgrade existing rail lines, or bulid new lines, if money isn't made available to maintain those lines afterwards.

In other words, the available funding should be used to provide not only the capital improvements, but the means to operate the actual transportation service as well. It is providing the service that enables people to get from place to place in a timely and efficient manner, and it is the service that is supposed to be the primary mission of a transporation agency like the MBTA.

And just when did paying off debt that was incurred constructing capital improvements become an operating expense to begin with? One of many things that's broken with the current system and needs to be fixed.

BTW - if money is allocated and designated by the Federal government for a specific project, that is known as an earmark even if the term is not explicitly used in describing the payment.

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According to wikipedia: "The

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According to wikipedia:
"The federal Office of Management and Budget defines earmarks as funds provided by Congress for projects or programs where the congressional direction (in bill or report language) circumvents Executive Branch merit-based or competitive allocation processes, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the Executive Branch to manage critical aspects of the funds allocation process"

Transit capital money coming through "merit-based or competitive" FTA allocations are not considered earmarks.

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Point taken. But consider the case of the "26XX" project

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We chose not to construct the project, yet we weren't allowed to allocate the available money to another project. We had to give it up.

So, regardless of the "technical" definition of the phrase, that money was clearly earmarked by the FTA for "26XX".

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After the Big Dig ...

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Do you really think that the federal government should just give MA blank-check money so the state or even a state agency can just decide to spend it however it wants?

BWHAHAHAHAHAAH!

You funny! You really funny!

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Should automation be a condition of Federal transit funds?

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The discussion involving Roadman raises the labor point in the context of the operating v. capital budgeting issue (and whether that should be an issue).

This raised an interesting point in my mind:

If the labor costs (i.e., the all-in costs, pensions and benefits, etc., included) are such an issue, why is the FTA not making it a condition of funding all new subway-type rapid transit that it be automated (i.e., not operated by a human driver)? As someone else suggested (at least by saying the converse), presumably the current Congress would plump for that?! (Particularly after they find out that those socialist French have even had this since 1998!)

Should this be done? Should automation be required for any major capital rehab?

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If you had platform screen

If you had platform screen doors to prevent accidents and suicides, how could the good passengers of the T throw their trash in the tracks?

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Platform screen doors

The main problem with this on the Red Line is that the 1500-1600-1700 series cars have three doors, but the 1800 series cars have four doors.

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Much of the capital money

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Much of the capital money comes from the feds, which only allow it to be spent on capital projects. Every transit agencey in the country has an operating budget and a capital budget, its not just an MBTA thing.

If federal homeland security money pays for those bag searches, then the MBTA just can't allocate it to some other expense.

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I "love" the argument that if

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I "love" the argument that if x system charges more, then why shouldnt the MBTA?

The race to the bottom is always full of winners!

Look, for every NYC that charges $2.25 (go ahead and read up on why theyve hiked fares so much in the past 5 years, hint, broken legislature) there is a Mexico City that charges 19 cents and a Moscow that charges 25 cents (and guess which systems offer better service... no, it's not the american one).

Anytime you say "x system has more expensive fares, we should copy that" you're essentially saying "lets look at what the worst run systems are doing, and copy that".

As for fare increases, they should be off the table because we payed for that in 2009 with the sales tax increase.

Right now, the focus should be 100% on the roads, which havent been paid for.

Lets start by putting up tolls - fully electronic - on both ends of the big dig tunnels. The big dig cost money to build. It costs money to maintain. Who is paying for that? The users should.

And let's look at parking costs.

$1 an hour? After 6p is free? If we're going to apply the "look what other cities do!" argument, then look at San Francisco which charges $3.50 an hour for parking until 10pm.

How about residential parking stickers? Unless people are paying $500 a year (a massive subsidy compared to a garage rental) then they have nothing to complain about. Is the residential parking program charging $500 a year? What, does the asphalt lay itself, and then plow itself...?

And again, if we're going to throw out "what do other cities charge", then lets see how much todays price of gas is in Maui, and charge that. That's an extra $1 a gallon in tax money. Hooray!

if the people of Hawaii can pay $4.50 a gallon, why can't the the residents of Massachusetts?

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Less than a Euro

For 0.89 Euro a ride (on a 10 Ride ticket), I got clean, dependable transport all around, over, and through Barcelona. They even had signs that told you when the next train was due and surreal videos en route!

1 EU = about $1.50. The Metro was way more reliable than the T - and cleaner, too!

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But DC charges heinous fares,

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But DC charges heinous fares, so we should totally copy that. And Las Vegas even charges $5 on some buses. I demand the 57 charge $5 to fall in line with respectable, transit-rich cities like Las Vegas.

Barcelona, Mexico City, Paris....what do they know about transit!

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Madrid

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Oddly, I seem to recall they charged 2 Euro per ride. My weekly pass was ~23 Euro. There was a surcharge for the airport too (which was a new line). But everything was beautiful, apparently it was all rebuilt starting around 2006. No complaints.

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Comparing Transit Systems.

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I've made this point before, you can't compare US transit systems to other transit systems.

Once again, I'll explain that anywhere else in the world, people BEG for transit to come to their communities. Here, we PREVENT them from being built. Whether it be NIMBY effects, or cutting funding (as we are discussing now), American's don't value mass transit like everywhere else in the world. Mass transit in the US is seemed to be "for the poor", and not for "everyone". Outside the US, a transit line means a lifeline of a community, in the US, a transit line means "undesirables" are coming to your community now.

Because of this mentality, this is why transit is not properly funded or even embraced in the US. This is why they are the first to lose funding, or have fares raised. People don't see the value, and just see it as a 'service for the poor'. Its sad that it is this way in the US. Until gas goes up to 7/gal like it is Europe, and people start abandoning their cars in droves and take public transit, it won't be taken seriously.

because of all of this is why its cheaper in other countries. Because people DEPEND on it, and I mean a significant portion of the population does. People applaud lower fares, newer and cleaner cars, new transit lines. This isn't to say us T riders wouldn't appreciate those things, but there's a lot more car drivers than transit riders.

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NYC doesn't exactly charge

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NYC doesn't exactly charge $2.25. Most people who don't use passes pay $2.10, which is the fare if you load at least $10 onto your card.

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Governors afraid to ride the ?

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Let me see if I understand this Governors with their bodyguards are afraid to ride the T. Does Deval get nominated fro the Profiles in Courage Award for riding the RedLine to work.

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