Boston city councilor says it's time to end fares on the MBTA

City Councilor Michelle Wu argues:

Forget fare hikes; let’s seek the sustainable revenue sources to take action on improving service levels, electrifying trains, and speeding up buses.



Free tagging: 



I love how on certain big

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I love how on certain big holidays the T is free. Even though it ends up super crowded, it's a big stress relief to just be able to jump on and off without thought.


If only Wu had tempered her speech. Some things are already free

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This blanket statement was either a way to get something published or shows that the Wutrain has pulled out of common-sense land. The Silver Line from Logan is free. Big night time holidays are free. Special events are sometimes free. And specific groups ride for free. She could have gone one step up and pitched say a free-fare zone as seen in Pittsburgh or Salt Lake. with a focus on Boston's colleges. But even that may be too much. Making the East Boston - Logan Silver Line free both ways might be a smaller doable step. And while you're at, take the Silver Bus out of the Seaport tunnel and put T9s in it.

well that could work. the

well that could work. the silver line is free to get on at the airport. Its packed so tight that fare collection is ridiculous. And I think free airport pickup is a great selling point.

But where else? Apparently Braintree line is packed from the Braintree stop. What about triple ling the parking fee and free from Braintree opening to 9am M-F? I guess you would need to do the same at Alewife. Its just like holiday pricing. Those packed trains are the engine of Boston's economy. It would also help with the suburbs feeling like they are not benefiting from the MBTA that they pay for.


The reason it shouldn't be totally free - they system couldn't handle it....

This seems like an

This seems like an interesting idea. I'm really curious about what kinds of alternative funding streams are possibilities.


Tax on short ride-share trips?

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I admittedly use Lyft to go a mile or two home from somewhere I walked or took the T because I'm cold/tired/lazy/hungry/whatever. It's often $2whatever per person to take the T home and $5-$8 to take Lyft home. It's often CHEAPER than the T if you have 3+ people.

If rideshare were, say, $15 to get from Roxbury to either Longwood Medical Area or Tufts instead of the current $5 or so, I would happily pay it if I or a family member were going to the ER or going somewhere carrying something huge or whatever, but wouldn't be paying it for nearby appointments or errands where we really should walk/bike/train. What if rideshare were taxed to make the minimum fare around $10-$15?

It would likely cut down on rideshare pulling over in traffic or in bike lanes; places like hospitals and transit stations where people have a more pressing need to go usually have legal dropoff lanes. The dangerous and illegal dropoff/pickups are likely people taking rideshare somewhere they really should walk or take the T, but take rideshare because it's so cheap, like I do.


whats the current status on ride-share, home-share, meal-share,

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i know technically cabs in the city are legally supposed to have meters and protective glass to protect the driver. drivers are supposed to have c.d.l.'s (background checks) which most ride-shares dont.

are gypsy-cabs still illegal (arent uber/lyft/ryde just gypsy-cabs ?) ?

its hard to compars t pricing against services that still operate in a grey area (like comparing the cost of a movie ticket to the price of bootleg d.v.d.'s in chinatown).

its worse than that

Lyft and Uber are paying drivers more than they earn driving. They keep the service artificially cheap because they are getting ready to go public.

That doesn't make sense. They

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That doesn't make sense. They are actively _losing_ money because they are ready to go public? Why would someone buy stock in a company which loses money on every transaction? That's not a sustainable business model. Companies will burn money to grow, but it's hard pressed to go public while still burning cash

Guessing it goes like this:

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Guessing it goes like this: they keep the service artificially losing money, go public, suddenly stop subsidizing it themselves, now they're making more money, the market is happy, and the stock goes up. They make out like bandits thanks to the increase in value.

Transportation industry expert Hubert Horan is building a case for why Uber will never become a profitable company on the Naked Capitalism blog. One of the most eyebrow-raising statistics, as gleaned from investor reports, is how little riders are paying of the true cost of their trips: "Uber passengers were paying only 41% of the actual cost of their trips; Uber was using these massive subsidies to undercut the fares and provide more capacity than the competitors who had to cover 100% of their costs out of passenger fares."

however that is from 2016.

It seems that they are paying the drivers less and less, while making it hard for the drivers to figure out how much they are making.

I think it is a pump and dump scenario. Get the public offering price high and then take your profits out while the average stock buyer loses money.

Happens All the Time

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At a certain stage a business may prefer market share over profits. Probably true of every startup you’ve ever heard of and some not so startups. That is a big number though. Won’t last forever.

None at least for this

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Let's get real here folks - while the recent tax cuts were a ridiculous "reform", the Dems want government to confiscate everyone's money.

Federal, state and local spending (at least around here ) totals somewhere in the neighborhood of $20k for every man, woman and child in this city and most communities. There are some transfer fees included in there so perhaps a bit lower - but that's roughly $50k per average 2.5 person household and nationally that makes government about a full third of our economy.

Elizabeth Warren wants a wealth tax that would make it almost impossible for wealthy people to grow their assets after inflation, AOC wants a 70% marginal tax rate (coupled with local taxes in some states makes it like 80%), our own governor wants to hike transfer fees on real estate. Now I'm hearing Bernie Sanders wants to start taxing estates of $3.5 million which (especially if including a house) does not make you wealthy these days.

If you want to raise taxes to keep debt levels within reason - and pay down some debt, I'm all ears. If it's to fund more progressive wacko free stuff and you want government to grow to half he economy - lots of luck. Capital is highly mobile these days - put in laws like this and even more socialist places start looking awfully good to the wealthy. Any questions how this works - go ask Connecticut that's getting pounded by rich people and companies moving out due to higher and higher taxes.


Because it's what I for a living

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As a financial planner, i work with lots of people that have that kind of money. They are not trust fund babies. They are doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs and people that earned their money and saved and lived below their means to get what they have (and pay full boat to put their kids through college so poorer students get a break) And assuming a house they bought decades ago is worth $1 million now, that leaves them $2.5 million in savings. That means when you retire you can take 3-5% a year out to subsidize your social security giving you a total income annually of $125k-$175k annually, depending on a couple of variables. Take out taxes and around here you can have a comfortable, but far from exotic retirement if all goes well, you might have some left to leave to the kids. The numbers are harsh and unforgiving if you screw up.


If your net worth is >$2.5 million

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you should be THRILLED to pay a tax on your assets. Not only are you giving back to the rest of the world who didn't roll all 20's on their character creation sheets like you did, but you can also think of it as a guillotine-protection tax.



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What in God's name are you talking about?

Not even close

$2.5MM is a lot for a retiree? Seriously? Remember, this is someone without a pension and has to live on this for the rest of their lives. stevil's 3-5% withdrawal rate is generous - a more conservative number is just 3%, giving someone $75K/year for the rest of their lives. Keep inflation in mind and that 75K looks pretty measely in 20 years. Medical costs are huge when you're older, nibbling even more of that nestegg away. Plus, they're going to be paying income tax on their 401(k) withdrawls anyway. The last thing someone needs is Bernie taking their retirement money away.


Firecalc says 75K is a pretty

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Firecalc says 75K is a pretty safe withdrawal number with 2.5Mil and 30 year horizon. Even with 100K there's a 95% success rate. Drop it to 2Mil and now you have a 73% success rate at 100K withdrawal.

A ton of people around here live on MUCH less than that, including my family/relatives, but 100K is far from "luxury yacht" or even "boat owner" territory. Things are changing fast.

I weep for your clients

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If my financial planner didn't understand that the proposed 70% tax would be paid in steps based on yearly earnings or that if I made over 10 mil it would not be in cash but in stock options and not fall under the wealth tax but capital gains, I'd fire him immediately.

Seriously, man. Find a new line of work.

What you are hearing is wrong

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I cant stand Bernie but his proposal is for anything INHERITED over 3.5 million

You're either trolling or a very, very bad financial planner.

Which is it?

Nevermind, I figured it out.

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Taxes when you're alive are bad because you are working hard

Taxes when you're dead are bad because you worked hard

Taxes on unearned income is bad because somebody else worked hard

We get it Stevil, you're a Republican, society be damned.

You should disclose your worldview upon meeting new clients.


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I'm a big believer in taxes. I've spoken out frequently on this board about what a sham the new tax system is, even though I am a substantial beneficiary. I'm also a big believer in estate taxes. But Bernies vision is a step backwards.

I'd give you an ecomics lesson on what would work, but it might damage your precious worldview.

also real quick

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" They are doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs and people that earned their money and saved and lived below their means to get what they have (and pay full boat to put their kids through college so poorer students get a break) And assuming a house they bought decades ago is worth $1 million now, "

this is kind of exactly the problem dude the vast majority of my generation sure as shit can't afford houses and boomers and olds are a huge part of it because there's no scenario where I will ever be able to float 800k for house anywhere in metro boston. my mother on the other hand bought a house in brighton village in 1966 for 30k that sold in 2001 for 750k. there is no scenario where I could ever do anything even remotely similar. and while i'm not saying penalize people for their success, why on earth can't we tax people whose property value has increased a double digit multiplier?

Ummmm, because we do?

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Ever hear of property taxes, capital gains taxes, stamp taxes, transfer taxes and the like. It's not like your mom bought the place, went to sleep and woke up with $750k (and something seems out of whack with that number - it doubled in value every 7-8 years? And she didn't renovate and it didn't get upzoned?)

oh im aware of those taxes

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oh im aware of those taxes and I think they all need to be increased for literally this reason. last time i checked bps and the mbta are both critically underfunded and we sure as shit need more revenue streams.

i would feel less extreme about this if it wasn't for all the overpriced vacant/foreign owned luxury property strewn across the city that's fucked up the housing market but yeah if you want to live in or around a major metro you absolutely should be contributing to all kinds of services.

as for the property value i'm sure more than 30k went into the house over 40-50 years but there are zero cases where I, a theoretical first time home buyer in 2019 could theoretically get a 2x return let alone a 10x+ return. the entire problem of my generation is we cannot amass any kind of generational wealth or assets because the older generation more or less made that impossible. any attempt at giving millennials a shot at the market in the way our parents had is decried by GREEDY POLITICIANS STEALING MY MONEY.

my immigrant mom was 25 when she bought that house and she worked full time at like 40 hours. I'm 33 working 50-60 hours a week and i'm barely affording rent let alone a down payment on a house. someday i'd like to be like you and own property and pay for my kids to to go to college but there's absolutely no fucking way to get there from here in 2019 without *gasp* government handouts.

You'd be surprised

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How young many of my clients are. Nobody gave them anything. Saved Maybe 100-200k in their 20s. Now double that for every 10-15 years. They make good money because they've studied and worked hard. Many are immigrants themselves.

The key is they socked away money early by scrimping, invested and now they've done well. They live comfortably but not lavishly. But for some reason they don't deserve it and it should be taken away and literally given to others.

I call BS.

I mean, the roads are, for

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I mean, the roads are, for the most part 100% taxpayer funded. Do those not count as "wacko free stuff?"

Also what if free transit ends up generating more in economic returns than it earns today in fare revenue (by encouraging people to make more trips to places where they spend money)? Does it really make good economic sense then to charge for it? I think this is kind of the same reasoning we use for not charging people to use the roads...


plus, all those sweet FRINGE BENEFITS:

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free transit encourages people people to take it instead of using their own cars / rideshare cars:

less pollution:
better for climate = savings on remediation, the general apocalypse that's coming
better for people living on busy roads (car traffic relates back to childhood asthma among others) = less healthcare costs, borne out in higher insurance premiums and tax expenditures for the poor

less traffic:
safer for pedestrians, less people getting murdered by bad drivers = healthcare savings
cheaper to maintain roads that aren't trafficked as heavily = MassDOT savings
buses travel faster, (plus now not waiting for people onboarding to pay so EXTRA faster) = buses more appealing = more people taking them as an option = these effects compound


More reliable, more frequent

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More reliable, more frequent routes and better service might result in housing market shifts as well. There's been a lot of demand to live around the Red Line (and spilling into East Arlington as well because 77), pushing prices up. At the same time there are a lot of condos being built near highway exits and interchanges touting easy access for car commuters. Imagine if we could reduce both traffic jams and transit time, this could open up more opportunities for families/buyers.

The gall

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You asked/accused me once if I was something of a shill to parrot democratic talking points and you have the audacity to say this:

Dems want government to confiscate everyone's money.


lol if 3.5mil isn't wealthy

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i've been living paycheck to paycheck for almost 10 years. i graduated college in 2008 with a bs and its only this year that I feel like I can finally climb out of that hole. if you don't think social services are worth funding you have never had to struggle on that level. Did you know that when you call food stamps the hold time is never shorter than 50 minutes and they play the same 26 second hold music clip on repeat the entire time? and they expect you to call every few months to speak to your coordinator and when you work two jobs and are trying to go back to school its damn near impossible to get access to basic social services if you're in that kind of situation. do you know what its like to try to see a therapist on a regular schedule when almost nothing else in your life is?

like i get it you don't want people to become lazy and entitled, but what about the people who are trying to not be forever stuck in poverty? i'm certainly not the only story like this and let's be real. to somebody with 3.5mil in savings $1000 is negligible. For somebody with -$66 in savings (me) $1000 would go INCREDIBLY far.

not only that but despite being check to check I still make a point of donating my money and time towards food banks and stuff like planned parenthood because no matter how poor I am there are people worse off who need more than I need. when I'm above survival wage I doubt this will change.

like i get it you earned your own money and you don't want the government taking it but also we need to fund social services because not everybody gets a chance to live their life like that. nobody wants to STAY poor. nobody wakes up in the morning and WANTS to not have heat, cell phones, electricity or whatever bill you had to delay paying and I don't understand how people can think that droves of people are actively pursuing that lifestyle.


We can generate dry ice from

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We can generate dry ice from the CO2 emissions trapped at the stack by clean coal technology and assign the MA ANG drop it into passing clouds to seed rain showers on demand at peak times for rainbow generation (e.g. 4PM in the summer). We can use a deep learning model to identify pictures of rainbows posted on twitter and use the geolocation metadata tags to triangulate the location of the end of the rainbow. Then we dispatch out-of-work MBTA fare collectors to collect pots of gold from the leprechauns.

Totally sustainable.


Good Point!

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Considering the fact that thousands of people refuse to pay their fares everyday.The MBTA spends hundreds of millions of tax payer moneys on fare gates that are about as successful as walls on the Southern border are for stopping illegal entries.


I agree that the fare gates

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I agree that the fare gates are ineffective, but I'm not sure about your cost figures. (citation?).

That $ is over 13 years, and includes operating and maintenance

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That $ is over 13 years, and includes operating and maintenance. So simplistically framing it as 'hundreds of millions for fare gates' is a more than a bit misleading.

Admittedly, it's still a lot of money (~$55m/year to handle the entire fare system). But then again, the T is currently taking in about $700m/year from fares, so that's means they'll be spending less than $1 to collect every $8.

And personel costs.

Collecting fares, even electronically requires staff. The overall cost of running the T would go down if fare collection ended.

Sure, but by far less than it takes in with fares

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The amount of revenue taken in by the fare system is many times more than the cost to collect it. So getting rid of fares means we have find ways to make up that very large difference.

To be clear, I'm not saying this is something we shouldn't persue as a commonwealth (we should!), but we need to be clear-headed about it. While fares don't cover the cost of T operations, they still do bring in a significant portion (30-40%). That's a gigantic deficit to make up.

fare collection

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T station personnel are under orders not to intervene if someone fare jumps. Zero enforcement unless the MBTA police are there. Add in the under collection on the commuter rail and yes thousands probably


This should be done, at least at off peak times.

It should be funded via congestion taxes....


If you charged a call it,

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If you charged a call it, Transport Operations Fee, for every resident of every town that has a T stop, bus stop, or commuter rail stop, you could probably do it fare-less. 30 bucks a month would cover operating costs of the MBTA.

Bold Ideas

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Raising fares only bleeds ridership and incentivizes single-occupancy vehicles clogging roads and emitting CO2.

I'm really happy that we have someone willing to make the case for what is needed, both for our climate as well as poor and working folks. Charlie Baker and Bob DeLeo don't like taxes, unless they're a de facto tax on those who can least afford it.


Do tell

How exactly does the state print money?

That's a new one. Or maybe just a very old one. In any case, they don't "just keep borrowing" either - there are bond ratings to consider as well as long term capital projects.


Get Real, the infrastructure

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Get Real, the infrastructure of society is crumbling , there is a need of more investment , not foolish pie in the sky shenanigans .Where will the dough come from, ? The OPM tree?


How much did you pay to drive on the road

Not the cost of your car - pay directly. Like tolls? On every road?

Yeah. That.

I'd love to see a per mile charge for road use, too. But since that won't happen, I like this idea of getting rid of the expensive infrastructure needed to police fares and just reorganize the financing.

Kind of like how I just get in my car and drive it down the FREE way.


Freeway also serves to carry

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Freeway also serves to carry utilities such as sewer and water . Auto requires initial investment which provides jobs . There are associated taxes to gasoline and parts . There is some semblance of linkage to organized society with goods and services with all this, There is no such thing as a free lunch, unless you can get it on OPM. Maybe we need more infrastructure in the transportation kitty, perhaps requiring bicycles to be insured and registered , start a revenue source with a new bureaucracy to boot. Happy motoring !

You can make all of these

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You can make all of these exact same arguments for why transit should be free. And guess what: Subway tunnels carry utility lines!


Is there data on how much

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Is there data on how much installing, maintaining, and enforcing fare collection costs over a 10+ year period? It's obvious fares do not cover the costs to run the T so how much is really lost if you just don't have to pay for the systems to collect the fares in the first place?


EZ Revenue

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You could probably pay for the entire MBTA budget, improve local schools and increase public works spending if you just penal taxed everyone with Connecticut plates who parks on the street in Allston-Brighton.


Michelle Wu is the rare

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Michelle Wu is the rare politician who deals in facts and knows what she is talking about. She hasn't prostituted herself to the oil industry like the republican party has so she can rightfully talk about the huge benefits of public transportation. She is willing to stand up to selfish, lazy, entitled, dangerous drivers. American drivers have gotten trillions in handouts while they've killed millions of people. Its time for the responsible, mindful, safe people who take public transit to get a break. No more MBTA fare hikes.


Michelle Wu is the rare

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Michelle Wu is the rare politician who deals in facts and knows what she is talking about??? I suppose why she was readily able to identify and name the sustainable revenue sources.


Question for you

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I suppose why she was readily able to identify and name the sustainable revenue sources.

Are there any other political moves that just figure out new revenue without a goal in mind, first? You don't just start taxing and coming up with new revenue without some sort of reason for it. It's cart before the horse, and politically infeasible.

Excellent point

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If you're going to make a bold statement: you need a plan to back it up

There you go again

She is willing to stand up to selfish, lazy, entitled, dangerous drivers.

Oh please, cut the shit already.


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I think the trains are already electrified. That’s what the third rail is for.

Not all of them!

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I'm currently sitting in an MBTA Commuter Rail train heading into Boston, and it's got a diesel engine at the back chugging along. It's loud as hell, and slow-moving (also slow to stop at each station & build up speed again). The crazy thing is, because it's the Providence line, it's burning diesel underneath an electrical catenary the whole way, which is powering the Amtrak train that just flew past us like we were standing still.


The real T

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not the commuter rail which is run by a third party.

Don't forget all the jobs

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We won't have to pay for people to maintain fareboxes, card readers, and all the affiliated machines. Aaaaand way fewer auditors and collectors and a whole bunch of other jobs with expensive pensions we won't have to pay. Union haters rejoice! Riders unite! Common sense rules!


Fares are fair

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The people who benefit from a service should pay for that service. The people who don't benefit from a service, should not pay for it. It's a simple formula.

For 10 years I walked to work. Rarely rode the T or took a car. I get that my taxes went to subsidize the T and maintain roads; fine. But I shouldn't have to pay for other people to ride for free. Nor should others who don't use the service.


Too simple, in fact. If I run

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Too simple, in fact. If I run a business and people take the T to my business to spend money, doesn't that mean I'm a beneficiary of the T? Think about it.


I don't have kids. Why does

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I don't have kids. Why does my money go to schools?
I don't have a car. Why does my money go to roads?
My house isn't on fire. Why does my money go towards firemen?


You are paying for other

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You are paying for other people to go to school and get healthcare. Some day others will be paying for your healthcare. B-b-b-b-but socialism!

And I don't trust Beacon Hill, either

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I think it's a truism that Beacon Hill underinvests in the T. At least today, the T has fare revenue to offset the lack of public funding. Take that away, and the T is completely at the whims of the state pols. When budget time comes around, do you trust the Governor and Legislature to fund the T properly?

Underinvest is an

Underinvest is an understatement. Beacon Hill all but abandoned public transportation and caused the state of crisis it is in today. Short sighted politicians will always take the easy way out.


Big Dig Debt

The State also saddled the T with the debt to build the mitigation projects required to get federal funding to build the Big Dig. Instead of the State funding those projects, e.g., commuter rail extension, red-blue line connection, green line extension, etc.--the T has had to do so (or not do so as has been the case with some projects) out of its own budget.


And the state gave the MBTA 20% of all sale tax revenue

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The sales tax covers ~42% of all revenue for the MBTA, where revenue from fares only covers ~31%. If the state took on the big dig debt today and, as a result, removed the dedicated sales tax revenue from the MBTA it would crumble overnight.

It is all state expenditure,

It is all state expenditure, why not separate the debt from the mbta? It is distorting to make the mbta pay the debt of highway construction. The Mbta needs investment. Infrastructure is the real trickle down economy.

Charlie Baker is the finance

Charlie Baker is the finance wiz that saddled the mbta with Big Dig Debt. Then he becomes governor and hypocritically blamed Beverly Scott for the horrible conditions of the system.


Working on the assumption that the T will be free by taxing Uber

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Sure! Tax rideshare services. But if that ship is gonna sail, you better bring taxi fares along, too. I’ll be damned (speaking as an Uber/Lyft driver working two full-time jobs) if this goes through. U & L won’t bat an eye passing that down against the rider’s profit margin.

Everybody living in a day-to-day mentality will support this legislation. The T’s service record is appalling, I think, out of irony. Riders know deep down that they’re getting off cheap on what should cost more in order to get better service. That and Romney’s Forward Funding legislation, but I’m not going to that level of hell right now.

Nobody will stop taking ridesharing simply because public transit has an awful stigma. I went from taking buses and trains to run errands that would take all day, but take an hour or two by car. Just today working for Uber, I drove someone two friggin blocks.

Anyway, this would be perfect timing to pour in money for a cash-poor public transit org, in the middle of spending $8bn for new trains on 2 1/2 subway lines, to get a huge, reliable cash flow from other taxes. And the corrupt part of it is that they wouldn’t need to lift a finger to do any more than what they already planned in the penny pinching mode they’re in... just let legislation pass!

Concrete proposal?

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What exactly is Wu proposing? Make the T free and make the state pay for it? Or is she going to try to get City of Boston to allocate money for it?

Revenue from transportation

Revenue from transportation was $661 million. If you taxed the top million earners $600 a year you'd about match what we collect in fares minus costs. That's $400+ less than a year of a linkpass and about fifty billion less than a year of commuter rail!

But wait, there's more! Green line and buses become magnitudes faster immediately and become cheaper to operate by eliminating the catastrophically moronic front-door only policy.

Let me repeat that, no more front door only boarding. Shut up and take my money right there.

But wait, there's more! Entering & leaving stations becomes quicker and it becomes magnitudes cheaper to build new entrances into stations.

Not to much if removing fares switches some drivers to public transit users we get reduced congestion, pollution and more space for people.

Finally, we save some $700 million dollars by abandoning AFC 2.0. Not making the T fare-free ASAP is financially irresponsible.


The top million earners?

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Massachusetts' workforce is less than 4 million. Are you saying that people would be okay with 25% of the workforce being charged so the T can be free?

A counter would be to charge T riders $600 a year, but I think I'm looping the proposal back to the status quo with thinking like that.

A link pass is over $1k for a

A link pass is over $1k for a year. So anyone in that 25% that uses the T for commuting would save money. So yeah, asking the top 25% to pay $600 a year seems pretty cheap to enable free public transit, especially since removing fares also improves service.

Not sure if I'm in that top 25% but if I am I'd gladly pay $600 a year instead of $1k a year to enable fare-free T.

You're missing the political point

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Less than 25% of the working people in Massachusetts use the T. I don't have a number, but let's go with 10% of workers take the T, which I still think is high. That means that at least half of the people being charged for this won't be able to benefit from it. A tech person working and living along 495 won't be commuting by T. The proposal is a prime example of taking from one group for the benefit of another. It just won't fly.

I'm willing to hear a practical proposal, but this ain't one.

Don't think they're missing the point.

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Non-registered user Matt already brought this up in an earlier comment.

I don't have kids. Why does my money go to schools?
I don't have a car. Why does my money go to roads?
My house isn't on fire. Why does my money go towards firemen?

That 15% still breathes the

That 15% still breathes the same air we all do and would benefit greatly from reducing congestion and pollution. Taking from one group to benefit everyone is exactly what we should be using taxes for.

I don't currently have kids but have never thought it was unfair that my tax money goes to public education because I do benefit indirectly from my fellow citizens being better educated.

More people in Greater Boston taking the T also means the roads in Greater Boston won't deteriorate as quickly and thus won't need as much money for maintenance leaving more money to fix up roads in Central/Western Mass.

BTW, when will we start charging that tech person working and living along 495 a fair amount so that they cover their use of roads? You're OK with raising the cost of gas to EU levels so that drivers actually pay for their use of roads?

Let me put it this way

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My son goes to Catholic school. What if there were a proposal to decouple education funding from the provider, meaning that if you send you kid to Windsor School or St. John Paul II Academy or the Brooke Charter School or the BPS, the provider would be compensated by "the government" (this is so theoretical that I don't even want to assign a level of government to this, and the following will show why.)

The reaction to this would be universal scorn. Why? Aside from the religion issue, which many people couldn't care less about, there's the idea that suddenly the taxpayers will be required to pay for something that was covered by the users. This is a very similar proposal. Currently, transit is paid partially by users, much like how the maintenance of roads are partially covered by the users (and if you think roads are given the gold star treatment, read up on the state of the roads and bridges both locally and nationally, which is proof that the gas tax needs to go up.) Suddenly deciding that the users of transit don't need to pay anything is akin to stupid proposals that have popped up over the years in other parts of the country to abolish the gas tax or automobile excise tax (or "tag fees.")

Further, the idea that we should single out 25% of the population solely based on their income as opposed to the possibility that they might use the service just won't fly. You're alienating 25% of the populace. But good luck with it.

You're ignoring the expense

You're ignoring the expense of collecting money from T riders, so you'd have to charge each rider more than $600. And only way I can think of doing so is using fare gates. Which makes the T slower and is where we are now.

A large percentage of that top 25% likely already spends $1k+ on a monthly linkpass or a whole lot more on a monthly commuter pass. The ones who don't still get benefits from reduced congestion.

If you want to make it equal, tax every taxpayer $150. Sure, the bottom 25% likely can't afford another $150 expenditure every year but if they take the T every day then they recover their cost within two months.

If my employer didn't subsidize my linkpass I'd be spending $1,000 every year so why would I object to being taxed $600 ( saving me $400 ) and making the T better and actually doing something to help with climate change?

I think $600/year for the top 25% for all the benefits is a bargain and I'm sure the top 25% can afford it, especially with the significant benefits and long-term cost savings.

GE tax free while T sucks ???

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Seriously, tax the highest earners and corporations who are getting breaks and NOT paying their fair share. It’s absurd that GE makes the kind of profits it does and then gets breaks. Make it great again like progressive taxes we’re from 1950’s-1970’s. We’re not talking about you’re taxes going up MAGA heads, we’re talking about anyone’s TEN MILLIONTH AND ONE DOLLAR, that $1 gets taxed at 70 percent. If you dont like that go back to wherever your ancestry hails punk face


Talk to Someone who has their nest egg in GE

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I love it how people can make statements without a glimmer of a fact behind their statement

GE stock is worth 1/3 today of what it was only a few years ago

Suppose your nest egg was in GE stock from a career at GE or possibly your parents passed on some GE as your inheritance

But seriously, I'd be all for a free T if:

  1. The Union Fat Cat Contracts were busted back to reality
  2. All of the featherbedding went away
  3. We didn't read about people changing lightbulbs making more than Physics Teachers in Boston High Schools
  4. We didn't read about people retiring at 55 with $100K+ pensions probably being collected for the next 30 years
  5. We didn't read about people supervising people changing lightbulbs [or Wiremen] turning in unused sick and vacation time when they retired for tens of thousands of dollars
  6. T-owned land was all developed aggressively
  7. T pension funds were managed professionally and transparently
  8. and a miscellaneous few hundred other improvements to the operations of the T

In short -- make the T run like it was really a business -- AND that the T's business was serving its customers -- Well then it might make sense to do away with the fares

A few years ago I proposed that the T be funded by taking one penny of the sales tax paid on any purchase made in a T community and sending it to the T. Add in advertising and rent and slim the budget to make its costs = its revenues

BUT don't hold your breath -- none of the above is going to happen until the proverbial domain of Hades in covered in frost [OK please don't correct the mixed metaphor]

"make the T run like it was really a business" - Which one? GE?

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You chastized the other commenter for making unsupported statements and then proceeded to figuratively dislocate your arms with all that waving.

I'm right with you on cutting waste and graft, but can you show that any of what you proposed would come close to equalling the costs of running the T?

union contracts are not waste

union contracts are not waste and graft. Pensions are earned. Only upper level employees that can approve their own time off really benefit from padding their pension with earned time pay.

Pensions and benefits are not the problem. Publicly traded companies cut pensions and health care for their employees to boost stock prices. However these people still grow old and get sick. And when they can't afford to take care of themselves, the taxpayers have to pay the bill. Remember when Walmart was teaching employees how to sign up for food stamps?

I'll admit that things have improved somewhat if......

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I'm willing to admit that somethings have improved with the T since it was known as Mr. Bulger's Transit Authority

Back in that dark period there was a documented visit of a MBTA Bus to the Garage in Everett

I don't have all of the vomit-inducing work rules in front of me -- so here's a brief synopsis:

  1. The Bus Driver drives the Bus to the lip of Apron of the Bus Garage -- sets the brake beeps the horn
    1. Only a Mechanic is authorized to drive onto the Apron of the Garage or the Garage itself
  2. The Driver de-buses and hangs around presumably smoking [remember that this scenario was documented during the 1970-1980's period of time]
  3. the Mechanic drives into one of the bays sets the brake and shuts the engine off
  4. A Sheet Metal Worker opens the Hood of the Bus -- not the Mechanic
  5. A Plumber can work on any of the water or fuel carrying parts of the bus except for:
    1. Any rubber components which can only be handled by a Rubber Worker [or at least supervised by a Rubber Worker observing the Plumber]
    2. Note that other trades can be supervised by the authorized trade -- if for instance the work involves something like changing both the rubber blade and the metal support of a windshield wiper and then testing the wiping action while fluid is squirted onto the windshield -- this could potentially involve 3 trades handing the work back and forth -- sometimes with the need to "sign-off" on the work
  6. For some unknown reason an Electrical Worker [or Electrician] is permitted to touch wires insulated with either rubber or plastic
  7. Glass - -well that's the province of a Glass Worker
  8. Rubber Workers handle tires
    1. [although not wheels -- those are the province of a Mechanic ]
    2. they also handle wipers [despite the metal pieces that hold the rubber blades]
  9. For some unfathomable reason Mechanics not Electricians nor Glass Workers handle bulbs
    1. Although if testing a bulb is involved well then you need an Electrician
  10. And so it goes on for the next few minutes as:
    1. the oil is changed,
    2. filters are changed
    3. engine is run and emissions are checked [Hah -- only joking on that one] and such
  11. then after the Mechanic signs off on the maintenance work -- the arrival process is unwound
    1. a Sheet Metal Worker drops the hood
    2. the Mechanic drives to the lip of the apron at the entrance to the street leaving the engine idling with the brake set
    3. the Bus Driver returns from cigarette and fortified with coffee and perhaps a Donut chaser, reboards the bus and off we go back into service

The above could have been much more complicated if the buses at the time had actual electronics such as destination signs, GPS, Clocks, Radios, Security Cameras -- thankfully during the Mr. senate President Bulger period -- everything that could be was manual

Note that everyone of these skilled trade employee had there own bargaining unit at the time [I believe that at the time the T bargained with 27 Unions] -- even if there might only be five or six people of that particular skill. Each of those bargaining units [no matter how small] had their only mostly non-working Union Reps and the T had a whole bunch of mostly non-working supervisors as well

Many of the people involved [both union and management] with this scenario also found ample opportunities to end up with ample amounts of overtime -- some still seem to manage that skill very very well

That is decidedly not how a private business would operate

For example you might have a cadre of Bus Mechanics trained by the bus manufacturer to be a generalist in the particular model of bus. System-wide there might be a corps of specialists trained by the manufacturer of a camera system or communications system who would be called upon by "escalation" from a mechanic to deal with recalcitrant problems.

Similarly there have been documented problems with stocking spare parts and having any idea what was in stock without having to send someone to a depot to look in the shelves. A whole lot of that can be easily automated -- reducing costs dramatically and increasing availability of the equipment as well.

Then there are the Scam-prone use of paper to schedule work -- leading to huge inefficiencies in personnel deployment and huge amounts of needless overtime. Much of that could be vastly improved by instituting much more flexible and easily accessed internet-based personnel management tools.

All you need to do to convince yourself -- if you are honest with your concerns about in[efficiency] and waste of resources including the Taxpayers Money then Compare the costs of running the T to similar systems

Somehow -- The T always seems to come out at or near the top in Cost /System Mile, Cost / Passenger Mile, Cost / Passenger compared with Systems with similar weather, similar size of the fleet and size of the territory and age of equipement, infrastructure issues, etc.

word salad

That isn't related to what I said. However you were traumatized by this story from 40-50 years ago, it doesn't change the fact that pensions come out the workers pay check. As long as wages stay low and companies are allowed raise money in the stock market without taking responsibility for the health care and retirement of the people that do the actual work, the taxpayer "safety net" will pay the bills.

Couldn't Agree More

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The equipment, the traffic planning, and the need for upgrades is desperate. BUT, the MBTA needs to keep a general manager, which it can't seem to do. I know that there have been calls for re evaluations of management, time, and money within this tired agency. No improvements, no fees. Councilor Wu has a wonderful idea.