Anger at the T
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. ...
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OK, so, once again, the
OK, so, once again, the Legislature is too chicken to do what they'll be forced to do eventually, and jack up the gas tax. Guys, you will have to do this: you can't keep putting it off, and it's just going to hurt more when you finally do it.
Until then, how about a congestion tax that the Legislature is not exempt from paying? Pollution drops, fewer cars, money goes to the T, more riders get on the T, and the Legislature gets to experience the same inconvenience as the rest of us. Everybody wins.
Well, except them.
Where there's no will...
...there's no way.
At least that seems to be the calculus that the MBTA is using. They propose two scenarios of either ludicrous cuts (that business and the burbs will NOT go along with) or fare increases that, let's face it, are not THAT bad for people who are doing ok -- but are horrific for the working poor, students and seniors. Two of those groups are ignored for the most part and the third one can move mountains (of politicians) when they get a hair across their ass. So the MBTA throws out some serious pain that doesn't fix the problem so that this same time next year we're still in the same fix and the message next time is "we've done reform - no more rabbits in the hat -- no more debt refinancing deals, no more ad space (that's going to really solve the problem) and we've screwed our riders and cut service so NOW you people in the Legislature have to do something."
UNLESS, people all over the State get really pissed off about this problem, that is far bigger than the T (MassHighway is probably worse off in terms of borrowing money to pay operating costs -- like using your credit card to pay the electric bill). This is a problem created by the legislature. They should have to fix it. But it's an election year. That's right, fix this shit or we'll vote your patronage-doling asses out.
Lobby your legislator
And ask them that if they can't seem to fund the T, they should at least refuse to fund repairs on Route 2 and other roadways washed out by Irene.
Fair is fair.
Gas Tax is for roads.. not subway stations.
The gas tax across the state already subsidizes the MBTA (largely just based in one city) in a state where the roads are completely horrendous (you know, the point of a gas tax being to pay for shared roads)
The MBTA has, unlike other major public transit systems, resisted fair increases for ages now.
The MBTA, similarly, is at the whim of legislators who force them to expand without any proper budgeting, largely due to T riders who want something for nothing.
Sorry, but there is not much that can be done. Car drivers across the state already pay significantly more than those who ride the T. Its not fair to continually ask for them to bail the T out, when most of them gain little benefit from it. Car insurance alone is likely double your typical T-rider's monthly pass.
Services should be predominantly paid for by those who utilize them, not sucked out of those who don't.
Everyone is seeing economic pain these days, not just T riders.
Except we don't drive in a vacuum
People who don't have cars could wonder why part of their taxes are going to maintain roads.
In any case, imagine if the T stopped existing one day. Where would those 600,000 or so people who now use it on a weekday? Your roads. Where would you sit for roughly 10 hours in the World's Largest Parking lot on that day? Your roads. Where would you sit sucking in all that extra exhaust, etc., etc., etc. The T benefits lots of people beyond its riders - including the people in cars who have reduced competition for our limited highway space.
The T is hardly a Boston-only service - this ain't no New York, where the subways stop at the city lines. The T district covers much of the area inside 128 and even places well outside it (think Fitchburg). Again, getting back to the poof-it's-gone scenario - imagine 128 or 93 the day the T dies.
The T did not incur its $6-billion+ debt simply through mismanagement on behalf of riders who want something for nothing (I'm guessing you haven't priced a monthly T pass recently). A good part of that debt was foisted on the T as conditions for federal approval of the Big Dig. You remember that, no? Most expensive road project on a per-mile basis in the history of the country? A road that nobody in Boston neighborhoods outside of perhaps the North End ever expressed much interest in? Why should my taxes (both state and federal) go to pay for a road I rarely use?
Bravo, Adam. I am tired of
Bravo, Adam. I am tired of those who have the attitude that because they drive and don't take the T, that they have no stake in the T's fate.
Perhaps this will better illustrate who's really the one using more public resources --
A typical bus is 40 feet long, and at rush hour may be holding 50 or more passengers. If those passengers were all in private cars or taxis, then even at two passengers per car (very generous, given the propensity of Americans to drive one-per-car), the cars of those bus passengers would be over 400 feet long.
Multiply by that by the hundreds of buses and train cars in service during rush hour, and tell me with a straight face that as a car driver, you have no stake in the T's financial well-being.
Tell the Democrats who pushed
Tell the Democrats who pushed the project through. Oh, wait - there's dead now. And the rest of us go on paying and paying.
The car drivers of the state didn't demand the Big Dig. Unions demanded it, Democrat politicians demanded it, and 'prettify-the-city' types demanded it.
Are you the only one paying?
I'm sorry, I don't recall when the state decided that only non-transit users would pay for the Big Dig. Last I checked, we're all paying for it, not just "the rest of you".
Most people don't drive in a vacuum
Unless this is your ride. Or this.
Why should residents in
Why should residents in Western Mass pay the Big Dig debt via a gas tax.? How does anyone living in Springfield or North Adams benefit from the Big Dig? And... transit agencies in those areas already receive less than they should from the State because the T receives more than its fair share of State aid.
Let the people living in Boston and the surrounding suburbs pay for Tip O'Neill's folly... he was their rep.
You do understand this is
You do understand this is like me whining about paying for your schools, roads, state police, what have you, right?
That said, I would love to have a law in place where any taxes collected within a county may only be spent in that county. It would last maybe a year, but it would teach a lot of people an important lesson.
Lower density = higher infrastructure costs
Well for one, residents in the more populated eastern parts of the state help to subsidize the roads in Western MA, which see considerably less use per mile due to the much lower population density.
If people who don't have cars stopped paying for maintaining and plowing and repairing and building the roads, you would be one sad SOB.
Go look it up - your transport choices are vastly more heavily subsidized per user than transit users.
No whining about traffic, either.
Pretty much nothing you just said is accurate
The gas tax doesn't subsidize the MBTA in any way. The sales tax is where the state's budget for the MBTA comes from. It's not a subsidy either since it's a public service being paid for with public money. If anything, you could better argue that the fares are the subsidy.
The MBTA has increased fares 2 or 3 times since 2000. The cost has more than doubled in that time from $0.90 for a subway ride to $2. Furthermore, a fare increase does nothing except to get the MBTA about 2 more years down the road without running into this problem yet again because of burgeoning debt payments.
The MBTA's current expansion plans are primarily requirements from the Big Dig and ADA compliance that have been largely put off due to not having enough budget for years now to handle court-mandated, not legislator-mandated, improvements. Most of these aren't due to anything T riders wanted at all.
There's plenty that can be done starting with a reassumption of the MBTA debt into the state's debt pool. That would be the equivalent of doubling the fares (without actually doubling them) since the MBTA currently pays as much in debt per year as it takes in by fares. Car drivers pay nothing compared to what they cost the state (otherwise the roads, as you noted, wouldn't be so decrepit).
Services are paid for by everyone so that no one has to pay too much. How many times did you call the fire department last year for help? Why aren't you out complaining that only people who have needed the fire department should pay for them? Far more of your tax money last year went to fire and police than it did to the MBTA. Remember, all the MBTA got from you was a fifth of all the state sales tax you paid last year.
As Kaz points out, this is so riddled with inaccuracies that it's laughable.
BTW, my car insurance actually happens to be exactly the same amount as a monthly subway pass.