Back in December, MBTA officials warned they'd have to make their annual spring pledge to cut service and raise fares unless the legislature decided to give it more money. The legislature did nothing and so yesterday, MBTA officials warned they are looking at either 33% fare hikes or lower increases coupled with the possible elimination of all weekend service and weekday service after 11 p.m. and the end of 30 bus routes.
The Outraged Liberal posits it's past time for the legislature to end the annual game and come up with a funding scheme that doesn't leave commuters hanging for months at a time wondering if they'll have to budget more for their daily rides.
As it now does at the end of every year, the MBTA is warning it will have to cut service and raise fares without action by the legislature to give it more money for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
This time, however, the T says it will hold off on specific proposals until March, to give the legislature time to work on another attempt at changing how public transportation and roads are funded in the state - the governor is expected to submit a proposal early next month.
In recent years, the T warns of impending slashing/fare hiking around New Year's, followed by the legislature throwing some money at the problem in early summer.
A fare-hike protest that began outside the Park Street T stop this evening ended at Chinatown station on the Orange Line, where 25 protesters held open the fare gates on the inbound side and cheered when maybe 10 people went through the open gates - although some pressed their Charlie Cards to the readers anyway.
The Globe reports the T is halting the sale of 12-ride punch tickets good for six months because too many people were managing to get extra rides out of them. They'll be replaced with 10-ride tickets good for just a month.
The state Department of Transportation will spend $54 million and periodically shut the Big Dig to replace those crappy light fixtures.
"We just have to do it," state Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said, to which Dan Kennedy asks:
How come no one said that about preserving #MBTA service?
The MBTA said today savings in everything from group insurance to electricity purchases mean fares will go up an average of 23% come July 1, rather than the far higher increases originally forecast.
However, the T is also counting on $51 million in savings that would require legislative approval, including $4 million in tort reform.
Although most riders will be spared the deep cuts initially proposed, the T said it will eliminate weekend service on the E line past Brigham Circle and on the Needham, Kingston/Plymouth and Greenbush commuter-rail lines. Eliminated entirely: The 48 Jamaica Plain Loop bus.
Before our April 4th Board Meeting, we will lay out our final recommendation for closing the Fiscal Year 2013 gap. We continue to work on identifying prudent one-time revenues that will allow us to stave off some of the proposed service cuts for one year. Our final proposal will include both cuts and a fare increase, however.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council is releasing a report today that says proposed massive cuts in T service and fare hikes would drive more people to cars, which in turn would lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in new health-care costs as drivers crash, die and gain weight. Mariana Arcaya, MAPC public health manager says:
Living in a health care hub, we often think of health as something that happens in a doctor's office. But this report highlights that the region's most important resources for health aren't limited to our world-class hospitals and doctors. MBTA service prevents accidents, reduces air pollution, and helps residents fit physical activity into their daily lives.
The Outraged Liberal considers what's next for T riders, notes the Globe buried a statement by acting T GM Jonathan Davis that the authority is redrafting its plans for the coming year and that it won't be going with either of the two options for dramatic service cuts/fare hikes it proposed in Janauary.
Starts at 4:30 p.m. today, followed by one of the MBTA's don't-blame-us meetings at the BPL.
The Globe reports the mayor wants the legislature to raise the gas tax or find some other way to help out the debt-ridden MBTA, rather than letting its riders founder.
The Conservation Law Foundation, meanwhile, is decrying the state's current position that riders can choose steep fare hikes or massive service cuts:
The MBTA has created a false choice between draconian service cuts and drastic fare increases. The reality is it's a lose-lose situation for transit users and Massachusetts. If Secretary Davey is hearing a chorus of 'I would rather pay more but not cut the service,' it wasn't singing at any of the hearings we’ve been attending.”
The Metro reports Transportation Secretary Rich Davey is looking at some new possible options for preserving existing T services, including charging higher fares during rush hour.
WBUR reports on packed hearings yesterday on the state's plans to cut service and raise fares on the MBTA:
There appears little support on Beacon Hill for a funding alternative to the fare hikes and service cuts.
Don't look to Deval Patrick for any leadership on the issue: His state of the state address didn't mention the T crisis once, unless you count a glancing reference to our "crumbling infrastructure."
Meanwhile, one map aficionado groans whenever he looks at the current MBTA map:
I really dislike the knobby, multi-armed Transfer Stations - South Station and Forest Hills look incredibly messy, while Haymarket’s angled bus stop circle clearly shows that the designer simply ran out of room and cheated to fit the station name in. Even worse are the transfer stations rotated to a random, non-45-degree angle (also cheating) to allow them to connect to a bus service (see Hynes, Coolidge Corner and Harvard Ave on the Green Line for examples).
The Silver Line is one hot mess. ...
The rally starts at noon on the steps of the State House, followed by a march to the Transportation Building in Park Square for the 1 p.m. hearing.