T fares could go up at least 35% as service is cut

The MBTA has released proposals and data for fare increases that could range between 35% and 43%, as well as cuts on all services except the Red, Blue and Orange Lines.

The T estimates the extra money would make up a $161-million deficit and offset revenue lost by people abandoning the T because of the higher fares.

One proposal would sock CharlieTicket riders with even higher increases in an effort to get them to move to CharlieCards. Another would require a $10 minimum for adding value to CharlieCards on buses or on trolleys, not to raise revenue but to speed boarding times on buses.

The T plans a series of 20 hearings over the coming weeks over its proposals.



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      I will agree to these

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      I will agree to these increases when the gas tax and tolls are increased by 35% too.

      35% would put us in the middle of our region

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      According to the Tax Foundation "Massachusetts' gasoline tax stands at 23.5 cents per gallon, which ranks 26th highest nationally." For comparison, the rest of New England & NY: CT 41.9, ME 31.0, NH 19.6, NY 44.6, RI 33.0, VT 24.5...so we're second lowest regionally, ahead only of "put it all on the property tax" NH.

      A 35% bump would make our gas tax 31.7 c/gal (rounding to the tenth-cent), a raise of 8.2 c/gal, and put us right in the middle of the 7-state region.

      Imagine if even half of that raise were used to get the Big Dig debt off the MBTA's back and books....

      Do you think that just

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      Do you think that just because someone has to rely on a car to get to work because their place of business isn't accessible via public transportation or because their job involves driving as opposed to just commuting that they should pay an additional 35% to fund your ride which costs more than you are currently paying? If you want to ride the T and you are paying x, but it really costs x + $1 to get you from point A to point B, then you really should be responsible for the actual cost. Times are tough. Just because someone owns a car, doesn't mean they're wealthy and it doesn't mean they can take the T, but just don't feel like it. Think about it.


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      It costs $150,000 just to pave a 1/4 mile of road. That also doesn't include general infrastructure upkeep, plowing, sanding, and all the services required to police and patrol it.

      You really want to argue people should be paying for what they use / externalities?

      The gas tax would be go through the roof, and western MA would get a hell of a lot less transportation funding because of their lack of people.

      Which is why when western MA bitched about the MBTA, it's laughable. They'd have a lot less roads without the taxpayers of the 413.

      I don't want a 35% hike in

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      I don't want a 35% hike in gas tax and tolls to fund transit. I want it to self-fund roads and highways and to fund debt service that was dumped on the MBTA. If MBTA must be self funded, why shouldn't roads and highways?

      Think about it.

      BTW, I've had jobs that required a car to get to. Don't pity party me.


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      An additional 35%? Even if

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      An additional 35%? Even if you assume gas is $3/gal, the 8.2 c/gal increase is less than a 3% increase in the pump price, not a 35% increase.

      Hate to break it to you...

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      But your Reps and Senators are actually receiving a per diem to travel to ahem, "work" at the State House. The per diem increases with the distance that they have to travel, but even the closest and arguably walkable (Marty Walz, for example) recently claimed about $2500 in per diems.

      It's a rigged game. And we are the marks.

      significant bus and commuter rail/bus impacts

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      I think the service cuts that they have in mind are a bigger story than the fare structures:

      Planned cuts common to both. Pretty significant:

      • Ferry: All routes
      • Light Rail: No weekend service on
      Mattapan and Green Line E Branch
      • Commuter Rail: No service after 10pm
      and no weekend service

      Option 2:
      major bus route cuts. We'll see what the specifics look like tomorrow when they release the route-by-route impacts.

      This is the next logical step

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      This is the next logical step toward their goal of ending all service on Huntington Avenue. While that would create greater efficiency in the central subway (at Copley Jct), it's a giant mistake.

      As for no commuter rail after 10 ...

      Why did they sink all that money into CR if the damn trains don't run!?!?


      I think cutting weekend rail

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      I think cutting weekend rail service entirely is a terrible idea. What happens to people who live in the suburbs and work on weekends? What about families who commute into the city on weekends for Red Sox games, theater, etc? What about Bostonians who take weekend day trips out of town?

      I'd be curious to see weekend

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      I'd be curious to see weekend ridership numbers; my guess is that they are extremely low. Is there any reason that folks from the burbs can't drive to Alewife, Riverside, Quincy, etc. for their trip into the city?

      Or perhaps it would be possible just have limited commuter rail shuttle service from major park-and-ride locations (Anderson, Rte. 128)?

      I'm about as pro-transit as you can get, but I think running empty, (or nearly empty) trains only drives up costs without providing meaningful service, which leads to charges of waste and makes it politically easier not to cut only the unused services, but also useful services.

      I'd much rather pay for useful things, like a Red/Blue line connector, rather than empty weekend commuter rail trains.

      Ye gods

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      No weekend commuter rail - I work in Framingham on Saturdays, there goes that job. Yikes.

      The reason the trains are nearly empty

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      on weekends is because MBCR runs the same six to ten car trains they use during the week, even though they are only carrying enough passengers per trip to fill up one or two cars at most. Which results in wasted fuel and unnecessary wear and tear on the equipment.

      Using diesel-multiple unit (DMU) cars, similar to the old BuddLiner cars the B&M and New Haven ran in commuter service for decades, on weekends would solve this problem. But the "progressive" management at the T and MBCR would rather waste money on the silly "RailRadio" system and mostly useless LED information boards than invest in equipment that would make the service more cost-efficent on weekends.

      "Is there any reason that

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      "Is there any reason that folks from the burbs can't drive to Alewife, Riverside, Quincy, etc. for their trip into the city?"

      The most obvious answer is "they don't have cars". This may surprise you, but not everyone owns a car.

      Reverse that

      Sometimes it's also we carless city folk who'd like to go to the 'burbs for an event or to visit folks.


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      Then you buy a car, join ZipCar, or suck it up and do without. We don't have some inalienable right to travel to the suburbs on subsidized transportation. Spending money -- on, for example, a car -- lets you do more of the things you want to do in life. It sucks, but that is how it is.

      I live in the city. I have owned a car the entire time I have lived here. It has been costly, but extremely worth it to me. Either put up the cash, or realize that you'll have to make sacrifices.

      and for the people who are ineligible for drivers licenses?

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      ... they fall into the "suck it up" category, too?

      there are a lot of reasons why people can't drive, let alone just those who choose not to. i was unable to legally drive until i was 30 years old, when my epilepsy was controlled to the point that i could safely drive.

      using the T, and the commuter rail, was the only way that i could get to work, see my family, etc.

      "suck it up" works great when you are physically or mentally able to drive, and have enough money to have options. it doesn't work for the rest of the folks.

      Wait a minute

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      Why do I have to make sacrifices for the "privilege" of not owning an expensive, heavy, and polluting piece of machinery with limited carrying capacity which will also take up space and damage the roads? We already have a better solution for city-dwellers such as myself; mass transit. I am willing to spend more for that, but only if it's actually functioning.

      Seems to me like I'm being asked to make sacrifices to fund the Big Dig which is of limited benefit to me, seeing as I don't own a car...

      Inalienable right? No. But I pay for the right with my taxes. I fund your roads, you fund my trains. See how that works?

      Cry me a river! I'm sure your

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      Cry me a river! I'm sure your cheap Chinese manufactured Ikea furniture arrived by bike, right? How about those groceries you eat? How do you think they arrived at your local JP hipster-mart? And I'm sure Magical Unicorns personally flew your mac laptop straight into your guilt-free holier-than-thou precious fingertips. Don't bother calling ambulance or fire, since those city services operate mean evil polluting machines!

      It's sad that you can't wrap

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      It's sad that you can't wrap your feeble mind around the basic concept that support for transit does not mean support for eliminating all private cars.

      Oh, really?

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      We don't have some inalienable right to travel to the suburbs on subsidized transportation.

      It's good to hear that you have your own private roads you use to get around town. Roads that you personally pay out-of-pocket to maintain, to plow in winter, to repair potholes on in the spring.

      Because there's no inalienable right to travel on public roads built with and maintained with public funds.

      Perhaps the T should shut down for an entire week. You'll have plenty of time to ponder your stance as you sit in congestion brought about by the lack of transit.

      Supporting transit and supporting roads go hand-in-hand.

      Getchyer liberal Faux News here!

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      I was about to agree with you until I read the story. They are not saying pay for my private road BECAUSE Irene wiped it out. They are saying the actions taken by the government CAUSED Irene to wipe it out and therefore the government is liable. I don't know the specifics or the law - but it sounds like they've at least got a gripe if not a case. I don't know who's right - but since there's no evidence in the story for one side or the other you've obviously spun this pretty far to the left (and there's also no mention of their affluence other than they owned homes on a private road on a beach - they might be comfortable, but could still be far from the rarefied air of the 1% - a lot of roads are private for reasons that have nothing to do with affluence).

      I saw that too

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      But I've seen this area. It's basically plumb island or places like we have on the cape, glorified sand berms where the rich find it appealing to construct million dollar McMansions where summer shacks used to stand. The houses are valued around the million dollar mark, and most are second summer homes or investment properties. The bible does have some good advice on building a home on sand near the water; don't!

      I'm not sure who's right either, but somehow I doubt the government caused this kind of destruction especially considering the severity of the storm and it's effects elsewhere. They just don't want to pay for it, and are looking for scape goats to foot the bill.

      Another way to look at it is the government too action to protect the state road. Meanwhile these folks didn't see the need to do the same kind of diligent work for a 100 year storm.

      Rich People are always right!

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      If they claim the government is at fault and should pay, then they have to get their money!

      Unlike all those poor bastards in NOLA and rural Mississippi who can prove that government action and inaction caused the loss of housing for hundreds of thousands of people. They deserve their post-apocolyptic towns and neighborhoods because God hates their stupid poor asses.


      Did anyone mention anything about a house?

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      This has nothing to do with houses (very different subject-houses are insurable). This is a about a road. My only point was that Anondeuce went from a story that says "governent action/negilgence possibly led to the destruction of private property and the residents MIGHT be entitled to relief" to "rich one percenters demanding government money that they are not entitled to."

      My only points were:

      a) these are actually probably not owned by "one percenters" (those look like the kinds of houses my NC nieces and nephews rent with about 100 of their college friends on the weekend - not very fancy but really big with lots of rooms and bathrooms and no big deal if someone throws himself through a wall for kicks). I would agree with anondeuce probably extended family shared weekend houses or more likely investments - that are owned by upper middle class people firmly in the 99% - these things are WAYYYYY too much work and hassle for true one percenters who tend to stick to multi-family housing, development more than management which is where the real money is and if at all possible, commercial properties.

      b) there are any number of legal issues at play here - did the government action cause the damage, did they have a choice, could they/should they have known what would happen, is their liability limited by statute in this situation etc. etc. etc.?

      I actually think these people may very likely find themselve outta luck. But the conclusion that these are a bunch of one percenters that want to milk the system doesn't follow from the story (they could be, just no evidence to support it).

      I have no idea what you are talking about in New Orleans and MS - I'm guessing Katrina aftermath -but again - as far as I know, those houses were in a flood plain and should have been insurable under federal flood insurance regulations (unless the damage was caused by wind - that gets very tricky and the insurance companies have played some games with that blaming storm surge on wind so they don't have to cover damages - I'm guessing the courts are straightening that one out).

      THAT is Stevilthink.


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      Go look at a map of "Green Lantern Ct" in NC. The "private road" in question is not even 1000 feet of asphalt that glues Rt 12 and about a half dozen driveways together and that's it. The problem is that most of Rt 12 right there (which I assume was/will be repaired) along with the "court" in front of the houses went from about 4 feet above sea level to 4-8 feet below (creating a giant moat) because of a breach of the next door channel used to let the western water and eastern water of their sandbar equilibrate. The claim is that when water started to rush through the trough, it hit sandbags on the east that were setup by the state and that caused the breach to take over the road and their little private asphalt combined driveways. The resulting erosion made a new pond that has to be backfilled before the driveways will be above water again.

      Also, one of those 9 homes sold a year ago for about $500k. These aren't $1M McMansions...they are just stuffed together beachfronts built where nobody had any business building. The owners' argument basically boils down to "the government decided not to keep rebuilding this sandbar I built my house on, then it decided to save that part of the sandbar and not mine...so it should pay to rebuild my part now that my part has been reclaimed by the ocean." Personally, if I had sold them the house/land any time in the past 30 years, I would have told them to build it on stilts and learn how to drive a boat to the front door or don't whine when the ocean decides to take back what it gave in the first place.

      What he said

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      I agree with Kaz especially this (and I'll let the courts decide for sure):

      ...they are just stuffed together beachfronts built where nobody had any business building.

      and this:

      Personally, if I had sold them the house/land any time in the past 30 years, I would have told them to build it on stilts and learn how to drive a boat to the front door or don't whine when the ocean decides to take back what it gave in the first place.

      A good omen for 2012 - we can agree on some things. - Happy New Year Kaz!


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      So a second home rental property that takes 100's of kids to rent to make it affordable for the weekend isn't a 1% investment?

      /scratches head

      These huge McMansion rental and summer properties are all over the shoreline in Ma, the cape and elsewhere. You either have quite a few investors going in on it (in which case the cost are as diluted as the ownership), or you're in the top 15% of income earners.

      These aren't summer shacks on the cape (that are still sold for 200k to be raised)

      Edit: Read the whole post. I agree. I'm not sure on the town's liability, and am not surprised it's worth a try for the homeowners. I'm just not going to be surprised if the government bends to their will, while the 99% has to fight tooth and nail for the like. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. It's also hypocritical that the whole idea of low taxes is so that bootstrapy rich can live their own way; yet when something goes wrong it's the governments fault, or the governments job to pay for it. One or the other guys.

      FWIF I'm totally against MA insuring waterfront homes and fixing their sand bar location on the government dime. The insanity of the housing market left to some huge errors in judgment in beachfront property. MA taxpayers should not be on the hook for people not getting these properties properly insured in some form or another.

      I forgot to mention

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      ... that the city I live in is Juarez. Such a model of perfect car-enabled living and libertarian values!

      Moving to Mogadishu soon!

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      I can't wait - I won't spend a penny on public transit I can't use or taxes either!

      Ummm, no it doesn't surprise

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      Ummm, no it doesn't surprise me at all. That's why I'm asking for numbers. How may car-less folks would be stranded by a lack of weekend service? The simple fact is that the vast majority of suburban residents have cars and can drive to T stations in order to get into the city. Many of those without cars probably have other transit options.

      My question is really quite simple: How many people would be stranded or meaningfully inconvenienced without weekend commuter rail service? If it's a 100 people and we're spending an additional $2.7m annually for that service, that means that taxpayers are paying $27,000 per rider. Would you consider that a worthwhile expenditure of money? I certainly wouldn't.

      But the bottom line is, that without numbers, we cannot answer the question. Simply observing that "they don't have cars" is not enough to make a decision here.

      Your argument assumes that if

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      Your argument assumes that if someone has a choice between their own car and the commuter rail, that they would always choose their own car. That's a false assumption.

      Just because someone owns a car in the suburbs doesn't mean they want to take that car everywhere if they have an alternative, especially into the city, where there will be parking costs.

      Shutting the commuter rail on weekends -- the timetables are already thin enough, yet there are plenty of riders, and no, I do not have the ridership figures handy -- sends the message that the T really is just for 9-to-5 commuting. May as well shut down all service by 9 p.m. After all, everyone should already be home from their jobs by 9, right?

      In addition, getting back to the owning-a-car argument: Don't forget that there may be households that share a car, and if one member of that household needs to get into town, the car may already be accounted for.

      Ridership figures

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      In FY2009, there were around 33,000 Saturday and 25,000 Sunday commuter rail riders, vs. 146,000 on weekdays. Not insignificant numbers: the demand is there. And perhaps if the timetables were not so thin, ridership would be even higher on weekends.

      The weekend commuter rail also serves seasonal needs, for those in the city to get away: the Wachusett ski train, Crane Beach, and other getaway spots.

      When I lived in Lowell, the

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      When I lived in Lowell, the #1 deterrent to me using the commuter rail to go into Boston instead of driving on weekends was that the weekend commuter rail schedule was a joke.

      Wait, I have to stop what I'm doing by 10:00 so I can make the last train home, or be stranded until 8:00 AM? Not good if you wanted to go see some bands play at a club, where shows don't start until 9 and the headliner doesn't play until at least 11:30.

      Admittedly, it's slightly better with the current schedule in that the last train now leaves at 11:30 instead of 11:00. But that half hour really makes almost no difference in the schedule's real uselessness.

      A lot of people I know who

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      A lot of people I know who live in Boston, or just outside it, don't own cars. So it would be very difficult for them to get out of town on weekends. I'd imagine there are at least some people on the commuter rail who also don't own cars, and would have a hard time getting into the city without the commuter rail.

      It might make sense to cut weekend service to, say, a handful of runs a day, but not eliminate it altogether.

      Although this is anecdotal, the trains are usually quite busy when I ride on weekends. (I take the train to Providence about once a month.) But then again, they only keep a few cars open.

      Weekend commuter rail

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      Weekend commuter rail schedules are already very thin to start with. When you have three-hour headways, there's not much incentive to take the commuter rail.

      We live in Waltham, a few blocks from the train stop. If we're taking the T into the city, we'll drive to Riverside, less than 15 minutes away. The evening and weekend Fitchburg schedule is too sparse to be practical.

      • Reduce all bus service by

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      • Reduce all bus service by 50% after 8pm $1.6m

      Many buses, such as the 70, on which I rely, already go from 15-20-minute headways to 40-minute-or-longer headways after 8:00. A 50% service reduction would essentially make such routes unusable after 8:00.

      don't you know?

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      Nobody leaves for work after 8:30 or comes home after 5:30. Not like people have daycare or school dropoffs and/or want to work what are "normal" hours for most of the US.

      Everybody works downtown, too.

      Yikes. Pretty much every 66

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      Yikes. Pretty much every 66 bus is packed to the windshiels in the first 2 stops in Harvard Square after 6pm on weeknights as it is.

      Infinite revenue!

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      One proposal would sock CharlieCard riders with even higher increases in an effort to get them to move to CharlieCards.

      You mean CharlieTickets for the first instance, yes?

      Also, I'm not usually down on the T, but maybe if the infrastructure were there to support CharlieCard system-wide, they could get rid of the tickets?

      You can't use charlie tickets

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      You can't use charlie tickets on the commuter rail anyway, which is, as far as I know, the only place that doesn't support the charlie card. I think the idea of keeping the tickets is for rare riders who don't need a plastic charlie card for a one day trip.

      That's kind of my point

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      That's pretty much what I'm saying. If CR and ferries supported CharlieCard, then the tickets could go away.

      Of course, I guess "getting rid of ferries" is another way to "solve" that particular problem...

      CharlieTickets are needed on

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      CharlieTickets are needed on the subway, since the machines don't dispense CharlieCards.

      the complete cut list

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      I think I just stumbled upon the unreleased document that has the detailed cuts outlined, methodology:

      Fares are pretty cheap here.

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      The MBTA subway and bus fares are among the cheapest I've seen in the U.S., and abroad. It's amazing that I can get a bus in Burlington to Cambridge, hop on the subway, get on another bus to Weymouth for $1.70.

      NYC, Washington DC, Montreal, London. All of these have a far higher fare structure.

      I would pay 20% more for better service...

      If that was what was being

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      If that was what was being asked, that would be one thing- but a possible 40 percent hike and serious cuts in service... it hard to take.

      Quicker, better

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      In every other city you mention, this transit happens quicker, and around the clock. I don't want to pay more for worse service.

      A fine-print proposed change

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      A fine-print proposed change to commuter rail tickets:

      Reduce validity of all CR tickets from 180 days to 14

      That would be fine if you could use your CharlieCard on the commuter rail. As an occasional Fitchburg Line rider, I keep an extra ticket or two in my wallet so I don't need to first go to a ticket machine when leaving from North Station. Having the tickets expire after two weeks would force the occasional rider to have to add in enough time to get a ticket before boarding (or face the on-board surcharge).

      I just skimmed the Impact

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      I just skimmed the Impact Analysis (real briefly), and what jumped out is the ferry one.

      Ferry fare revenue is not collected by the MBTA, so the loss in ferry fare revenue is not counted in the total revenue change but the saved operating costs of eliminating the Commuter Boat Subsidy are counted.

      Can someone explain this to me? Don't ferry operators pay a percentage back to the MBTA at some point?

      kinda crazy

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      They're gonna get a lot of POed sports fans and Garden Event attenders if they cut service after 10pm. Seems like it's just the old tactic of asking for too much so you can settle for what you were really looking for.

      Can't they do something easier, like, oh, fine anyone clipping their nails on the T, speaking loudly into their cell, or playing music so loud you can still hear it blaring from their earphones? ;)

      Frankly, it may be a good

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      Frankly, it may be a good thing to have pissed suburbanites. Otherwise many will just laugh at poor cityfolk.

      Go after sacred cows

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      Lots of interesting comments to the original post. As to cutting service after 10. If you want to get changes you go after something that has a large vocal/powerful constituency. Get something that might not fly otherwise. On the other hand, the law of unattended consequences can mess things up.

      Numbers not Percentages

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      • 2007 Price: $41
      • Current Price: $59
      • New price at 35% increase: $79.65
      • New price at 43% increase: $84.37

      Back in 2007...

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      Before the latest fare "increase", a monthly Link pass (then called the Combo) was $71. So you're saying the 35% increase will be not much more than I was paying five years ago. I'm okay with that.

      I think the service cuts are much more worth getting in a tizzy over, since they will have the greatest long-term impact, almost all for the worse.

      The feared demand destruction will not come to pass.

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      Well, it's a nice day, so I might as well bring the haters out.

      Based on my own experience and that of most, if not all, of the people I know well who use the T, even the higher-end scenario for fare increases will not cause the demand destruction that the T fears and that others will scream about for two reasons:

      1) The reliability and comfort level on the T have dropped so precipitously over the last few years, that anyone who could flee the T has already done so; and

      2) Of the many remaining T riders, few have any economically viable alternative to riding the T (or they would have joined those in group 1, above).

      It's not a pleasant thought, but I think that's where we are.

      have to disagree

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      I agree that if fares go up that much, most people will just suck it up and pay to ride, but I disagree about your perception of how bad it is. I have found--as long as I can consult mbtainfo.com to see when the bus is coming--that for the past year, the bus and Orange Line service from Roslindale/West Roxbury has been pretty reliable and I use it instead of the commuter rail. Better to be moving than standing on the platform at Roslindale Village or Back Bay waiting for a delayed commuter rail train.

      speaking of taking the T from

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      speaking of taking the T from roslindale/west roxbury, does anyone else find it offensive that the fare jumps from $1.70 at forest hills to $4.25 at roslindale village for commuter rail? many rapid transit and "light rail" lines reach far beyond boston city limits, where suburbanites only pay $1.70 one way. why do I have to pay $4.25 for a train ride within boston proper?

      Insane commuter rail fare difference

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      When I first moved here, it cost about 25% more to take commuter rail from Roslindale Village, compared to the bus and subway trip. Now it's more than double the price, for a 5 minute train trip to Forest Hills. That's insane, but what it really shows is that the last couple of rounds of fare increases have been put heavily on the backs of commuter rail riders. As much as I hate to pay more, a subway/bus fare increase has to be expected.

      bus-subway transfers

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      Before CharlieCard, there weren't bus<->subway transfers, so that bus->subway trip would have gone down in price with the last fare increase.

      It's like Massachusetts has

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      It's like Massachusetts has stopped passively suggesting that maaaaaybe I could move somewhere else, and is now jumping up and down, yelling at me and waving it arms trying to tell me to move somewhere else as soon as possible.

      I'm right there with you. I

      I'm right there with you. I was looking at other cities to move to and better public transportation was one of my major criteria. Way to set the bar low, MBTA!


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      Boston is looking less and less likely the place to raise a family, and not be scraping by. Fun while it lasted, but it's setting itself up to be a nice FL like city (old / rich - Young / drugged out / poor).

      Blah to that.

      In this day and age,

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      when it seems like the whole world is trying to reduce carbon emissions and save energy, and when gas prices are so volatile, to increase prices on the T while decreasing service is ridiculous.

      Shouldn't we try to encourage public transportation? I'll bet this will have the effect of driving people away from the T and into their cars, worsening traffic and pollution, etc.

      Someone should visit another city - like Chicago - to see how a public transport system could be successful.

      Better Yet

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      Visit one of the cities that has greatly expanded public transit and also expanded population and economic activity as a result.

      They do exist.

      Boston could be one of them if the statehouse clown car could find its clue sometime soon!

      are you joking?

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      Funniest thing I've heard all day! You must not have had to rely on Chicago public transportation to get to work for several years. Glad you enjoyed your occasional trip up and down Michigan Ave., tourist.

      Chicago has haters too

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      I'm sure if you rode the Chicago transit system, you'd find a lot to despise about that also. Also, their fares are already much higher than Boston's.

      Pass the pain

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      Is it inherently necessary that the person running the MBTA advocate for passing the pain onto the public as opposed to openly advocating that the state fix its funding situation?

      Is it because their ability to move up the ranks of state politics requires that they not tip the tea kettle of reality? The State House decided to put the MBTA on this crash course with its debt load by agreeing to completely asinine extrapolated budgetary numbers over 10 years ago now. They have not ONCE been forced to recognize the abject failure of their predecessors (unless you count last year's bailout from the sales tax increase that they paid the MBTA to close that "one time" budget hole). It's time for reality to be the key point here. It's time for the State House to revisit the stupidity that led the MBTA to want to jack up its fares while decreasing service.

      I guess I can still maintain a little solace in the fact that we're grown up enough not to be blaming the Carmen's Union for the budget situation like other parts of this great nation of ours has done when public budgets don't line up with revenue. However, it won't matter how much they raise fares or cut service until they recognize WHY revenue isn't matching expenditure here. It's the most messed up funding situation of ANY public transit system in the US (as I recall from one analysis done about 2 years ago).

      The legislature had better get the MBTA funding back on the right track and soon.

      There Is Revenue Out There

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      There is plenty of revenue out there if the good people of MA would pay their fair share and the MA DOR would enforce the current laws on the books.

      We have just finished a holiday season that saw a substantial increase in on-line shopping. You see the results of this with all the package deliveries in the weeks leading up to and the week after the holidays. Many of these purchases are not assessed a sales tax because the retailer does not have a presence in MA (Amazon is a great example of this). However, the MA purchaser is required to pay a Use Tax on their annual MA Form 1 when they file their income taxes. Conveniently enough, the Use Tax is 6.25% of the amount of the purchase not charged a sales tax, but would have been charged a sales tax if purchased in MA.

      The amount of revenue lost is staggering, over $200 million a year is unpaid.

      How about everyone agree to pay their fair share when filing their income tax return this year and we will have more than enough to cover the MBTA shortfall.

      Public response period

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      The MBTA is accepting public comments electronically at fareproposal(.at.)mbta.com.

      Here's what I sent to them:

      To whom it may concern:

      It doesn't matter if you boost fares through the roof or cut all of your service. Both are small bandages on the wound of "Forward Funding" that the state legislature has hobbled the Authority with since 2000. Until this becomes the talking point, all increased fares and reduced service do are pass the pain onto the portion of the public that cannot afford to bear that burden these days. The MBTA will continue to fail gradually...and then suddenly.

      The public MUST be rallied to understand that it needs to pressure the State House to fix the Authority's funding situation and return the debt load back into the state's more capable hands and off of the MBTA's books. The extrapolated rate of state sales tax presented in 2000 was a pipe dream (and not even a very realistic one at the time even). The fact that this has essentially remained unvisited by the legislature is one of the greatest failures of our state's government over the past 10 years.

      The public, especially those outside of the MBTA service area, are never going to be made aware of the reality of how badly "Forward Funding" and the Big Dig debt transfer from the 2000 legislation without the Authority being the ones to bring these facts to light themselves. It's time for the MBTA to stop acting as if it's going to fund-raise its way out of its financial situation. No amount of abusing patrons with advertising, robbing the average person's wallet for fare money, or deleting much-needed services is going to do anything other than make the system solvent for a meaningless amount of time further until the next time these same bells are rung for the following year. You are patching one hole and should be fully capable of realizing there are more holes coming sooner rather than later.

      Please become the advocate that is needed to pressure the legislature into fixing the problem at its source. Get the Big Dig debt put back on the state's budget where it belonged all along. Get the MBTA budget paid by the state as one of those essential services the state should be providing no matter the cost and not some constrained amount artificially reliant on sales tax revenue as if that's relevant to public transportation in any way.

      Please work to fix the most glaring problem that anyone who has taken a modicum of effort to understand the situation can see. You are probably the only one who can make this happen.

      Among the cuts

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      Folks from Brighton and Newton will miss the 501 which is on the axe under scenario two.

      Thanks Kaz

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      I'm working on a letter along similar lines I'm going to send to them later.

      Right on, time for us to organize

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      Clearly, a lot of people here are regular T riders, and angered by the drastic cuts at hand. I take the T daily, and these cuts go beyond just trimming service, and into the realm of the T not serving basic mobility needs.

      Kaz hits the nail on the head here. Instead of arguing on UHub, isn't it time we stand up for funding the T? Clearly, Rich Davey and now Jon Davis have done as much as humanly possible to cut waste and maximize efficiencies. The real elephant of the problem is the awful funding situation, including the Big Dig debt.

      It's time for us to organize, as T-riding voters. The number of riders in the region, in the state, is far from small. We need to advocate for this state actually funding the way we get around. It isn't the sole job of a state official or the T to push for funding it; it's the duty of people who ride it and will be riding it.

      Please tell me you're not

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      Please tell me you're not considering an Occupy MBTA movement... ugh. Remember how Occupy Boston did nothing but cost taxpayers a million bucks? Please don't.

      God Forbid!

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      People getting together to demand redress?

      That's communist!

      And how much productivity will it cost when they cut all the service that gets people TO THEIR FUCKING JOBS?


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      I swear I didn't read this quote from Alvaro, a lawyer and board member of the MBTA, who commented in yesterday's Globe article before I wrote my public comment to the MBTA:

      Ferdinand Alvaro, a corporate lawyer on the board, said the T is hamstrung by the “forward funding’’ plan enacted by lawmakers 12 years ago.

      The plan prevented the T from seeking additional money from the Legislature to make up for shortfalls each year. Instead, it gave the T a percentage of sales tax revenue. But that has fallen short of projections while Beacon Hill saddled the T with massive debt to pay for capital projects.

      “Until the forward funding formula is fixed, we are going to have financial problems,’’ Alvaro said. “So it’s like we keep putting Band-Aids on every hurt, but we never really deal with the root cause. The only folks who can fix that are the governor and the Legislature.’’

      But kudos to Alvaro for speaking publicly on the truth of the matter and getting it into the media. It's time to put some pressure on the legislature and get a proposal on how they plan to clean up the mess their contemporaries and predecessors left them.

      The $10 minimum load on a

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      The $10 minimum load on a CharlieCard would only apply at bus and trolley fareboxes, not at ticket machines in stations.

      Adam, can you correct this?


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      There is actually a good idea in the middle of that mess of a proposal! (Seriously; how many of us have lost tooth enamel standing behind someone putting a one-way fare on a Charlie ticket, one-nickle-at-a-time while boarding a train?) :)

      I'm all for providing a

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      I'm all for providing a living wage, but there has to be a limit. Has the T compared their salaries and benefit packages to those provided by other transit agencies?

      Also, from what I hear, there are a whole lot of supervisors who don't do very much. When the Blue Line went to single-employee operation a few years ago, they increased the number of supervisors more than the number of conductor positions they cut. Has anyone looked into reducing the number of employees who aren't actually getting things done?

      Would the unions really rather see drastic cuts in front-line headcount, instead of reasonable salary and benefit concessions?

      Classic negotiating strategy

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      This is exactly the way the last round of fare increases happened:

      Start out with outrageous increases and service cuts.

      Hold a lot of hearings.

      End up with something that looks a lot better.

      "List of cuts at other large

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      "List of cuts at other large transit systems (.rtf format)"

      Ah yes, the race to the bottom strategy.

      "if that shithole over there managed to cut their service, then why shouldnt we?"

      Why not? I mean, Sacramento cut all transit service from 1am to 10pm. If they can do it, why not us? Miami runs trains every 30 minutes. Look at what a paradise they are! Let's be Miami!

      And look at London, why their ticket fare is something like $8, why not us?

      Hell, Arlington Texas has ZERO public transit, not even a bus. If they can do it, so can we!

      Isn't it wonderful when we race to the bottom? What ever happened to, you know, trying to be better than others, and outdo other cities to try and attract investment and such.

      Can you imagine ever hearing the following:

      "Mexico City charges 21 CENTS a ride, and their subways run every 90 seconds, maybe we should try that"

      Of course not.

      And also, wasn't the sales tax hike supposed to pay for the MBTA for awhile?

      The "fares havent been raised for 5 years" is a massive lie. Fares were raised, we just pay for it every time we buy something or go out to eat.

      Default is preferable to service cutbacks

      Instead of cutting service this drastically, the MBTA should spread the pain upward to the 1% by defaulting at least partially on its unsustainable debt. Let the hedge fund owners take a hit for a change.

      That would be nice...

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      ...if only evil hedge fund owners were the investors in MBTA bonds. But just about anybody who is trying to save for retirement ends up getting tax-free municipal bond mutual funds, and lots of little guys would end up getting screwed.

      Not only that but the cost of borrowing would soar for anything with "Massachusetts" in its name and we would all pay that price in taxes.

      What are the hearings for?

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      I'm curious what the MBTA expects to get out of the hearings. Are they looking for alternative ideas? Modifications to the two current proposals? Buy-in on one or the other of the two proposals?

      What happens if the overwhelming public reaction is "Neither is acceptable"?

      Are there really any options here?

      I imagine the hearings . . .

      . . . are there for people to vent and scream - which will then be shown on the TeeVee for the usual suspects to mock and demean and dismiss and belittle for they won't be polished or have the right ideological talking points or match up with each of our little world views etc etc ad naseum. Basically our political system in toto- the appearance of participation blended artfully with artificial distinctions we ourselves now draw against each other like trained seals.

      And no- barring the challenging and questioning of some very basic systemic stuff- which no one who matters is even remotely doing or would even consider doing- there are no options. Fees increased. End of story.

      Who needs T management to cut

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      Who needs T management to cut service when today's weather seems to be doing the same.

      Disabled trains on the Red, Blue and Green lines, and lots of commuter rails delays because of "inclement weather". Inclement weather? It's winter, single digits happen.