Boston City Councilors say the $85 million the city directly pays into the MBTA every year should at least buy them a meeting with T officials to press their case to do more than just maintain an increasingly unreliable system they say particularly penalizes residents who don't live near a subway stop.
"It's cheaper to go from Hyde Park to Providence than to go from Hyde Park to Ruggles on the commuter rail," Councilor Michelle Wu (at large) said, in filing a formal request for a hearing at which to try to get T officials to attend to explain everything from fares on commuter rail to why the T thinks it deserves a possible fare increase.
In her formal request for a hearing, she added:
At current MBTA service levels, certain buses and subway trains are so crowded during rush hour that many commuters must “go out to go in,” traveling first in the opposite direction from their destination to be able to access transit in the intended direction, yet the MBTA is considering fare increases for the next fiscal year, which would disproportionately burden Boston residents and especially lowincome and working class residents who most need access to affordable, reliable public transit.
"If the MBTA was a business, they'd be out of business," fumed Councilor Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan), who has been complaining about commuter-rail fares in Hyde Park and Roslindale for years.
"It's absurd that residents of the city of Boston pay different fares to go into town," Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain), said. "It's simply unjust," agreed Councilor Ayanna Pressley (at large).
Unlike Mayor Walsh, who has been reluctant to raise the issue, councilors said the $85 million a year the city of Boston directly pays the T each year for the privilege of being in the T district should be a lever to get both more equitable fares and better service.
"That's real money," McCarthy said. "The MBTA does not service Boston residents well."
"The city of Boston pays a huge amount of money into the T and deserves to have a seat at the table," agreed Councilor Josh Zakim (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End, Fenway), who added state officials need to start thinking about real investments in the system, not just fare increases and cost cutting. He added, "we had a very different response when Gov. Patrick was there."