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Citizens, hear them out: City Councilor, volunteers to protest on the T on Fare Hike Day

Vocal Revolution - Charlie & The MTA

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu (at large) is helping organize a two-day protest against MBTA fare increases that will include stationing protesters outside each T stop and on as many trains as they can muster on July 1 - the first day of increased T fares.

The goal: Create a movement to press for a reliable transit system that isn't always on the verge of falling off the rails.

Wu's posted a signup form for people who want to rally the day before at a Boston T Party to get signs and handouts for riders the following day.

Derailments and ongoing service disruptions aren’t the main problem facing the T; they’re symptoms of what we must fundamentally change: a deteriorating system lacking leadership, investment and accountability.

On July 1st, a 6% fare hike on subway and commuter rail passes will go into effect. These hikes will place an undue burden on residents already struggling to meet transportation-related costs, totaling an unaffordable 41% increase in MBTA fares since 2012.

The fare increase represents a step in the wrong direction when we can’t afford anything less than aggressive progress forward. The amount of revenue raised on the backs of riders won’t even come close to the funding needed for frequent, reliable, affordable and sustainable service.

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Is agreeing to the 6% increase but guaranteeing the money goes toward more reliable service: trackwork, signaling, new equipment etc. and not higher salaries, benefits and pensions.

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...can we raise the gas tax at a comparable rate that MBTA fares have increased over the years?

Oh and congestion pricing too cause because raising fares with unreliable service is just pushing more and more people into cars.

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Keep in mind though, that as fast as the fares have risen, the state has STILL needed to kick in huge additional funds to keep up with T spending - as previously discussed, apparently almost all on salaries, bennies and pensions and almost nothing on new capital equipment.

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The state highway system needs $6.5 billion more than its budgeted revenue over the next 10 years to maintain roads, bridges, and tunnels, according to the report. The MBTA is set for the next five years, but after that it will face a $1.9 billion shortfall, brought on largely by diminishing federal funding and less state borrowing capacity, the report says.

The funding shortfall is just for maintenance of existing infrastructure and doesn’t include money needed to modernize, expand, or decarbonize the state’s transportation infrastructure. Not included in the funding forecast are proposals to expand the commuter rail system into a subway-like regional rail system, to build South Coast Rail, to connect the Red and Blue Lines, to expand South Station, or to construct the Allston interchange.

The report by A Better City and the UMass Donahue Institute offers a wide variety of options to help close the spending gap. They include raising the gas tax or applying the state sales tax to gasoline purchases; putting a price on the carbon contained in vehicle fuels; implementing congestion pricing at peak travel periods; adding border or in-state tolls or increasing existing tolls; hiking the fees on ride-hailing apps to match T fares; and launching a vehicle miles traveled fee.

https://commonwealthmagazine.org/transportation/report-transportation-fu...

I can't speak to the numbers on T spending for bennies and all that but as you and others have said, its an enormous burden thats taking away from capital investment.

EDIT: Also can't speak on this but I've seen some comments on Twitter about the costs of road construction being higher in Mass, even when compared with NH/Maine/Vermont/etc. I know those states don't have nearly the size of mass transit so maybe no numbers to compare but does it feel like contractors have some fix in here?

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Because the MBTA was shafted in its funding mechanism of a "penny of the sales tax" at the same time it was saddled with Big Dig debt. Neither the debt nor the underperforming sales tax set the MBTA budget up for success. They have both been boat anchors. One in the short term and one in the long term.

It's not how much the MBTA costs that's the problem. It's how little funding it gets from its revenue source, because Baker et al. doomed it by stripping it of its line item in the budget and turned it into a slave to the sales tax projections. The projection was for an average of 3% growth every year...instead it's grown under 2% annually and as a result the MBTA has gotten nowhere near the budget each year that it was claimed it would get when lawmakers back in 2000 said they could easily throw the remaining project debt from the Big Dig onto the MBTA's back.

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That's not true. Go look at the income statements for the T and you'll see that a) the revenue grew steadily from forward funding (I think about 4% a year) and b) debt service as a percentage of revenue actually declined up until a few years ago, i.e. debt service on Big Dig debt did not cripple the organization and in fact they were able to use increased funding to substantially supplement personnel costs. Both of those are urban myths perpetuated by a bogus politically motivated white paper written to justify supplemental funding for the T and regurgitated by the local press that couldn't analyze an income statement if their lives depended on it.

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http://massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=MBTA_Sales_Tax_Explainer.html

Actual growth in the MBTA-eligible penny of the sales tax has averaged less than 1.5 percent. If the previous twenty years’ growth rate had instead continued, the MBTA’s penny would be worth almost $400 million more a year than it is today.7 Had even the 3-percent conservative forecast been realized, the annual amount collected by “the penny” would have increased from an inflation-adjusted $914 million in 2001 to $1.066 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, rather than the $847 million currently anticipated for FY 2018. That’s a FY 2018 shortfall of approximately $220 million. The figures displayed below show that the MBTA penny has not kept up with inflation or with the Legislature’s stated “worst case” scenario.

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That did indeed grow more slowly than expected for several reasons - economy, internet etc.

HOWEVER, you are completely ignoring the hundreds of millions in supplemental funding that the state started throwing at the T to make up the difference. My recollection is that the T budget was about $1 billion when forward funding began. Within 15 years the budget was $2 billion, a large chunk of which was supplemental state funding.

That link is not there to say the T is broke because sales tax growth fell short of expectations. It's there to justify the supplemental funding (which I don't disagree with - I just disagree with how they spend it).

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Nope...b/c don't you know it's ok for T users to have increase after increase and not be able to be angry about it but nothing can ever happen to the entitled car owners. Didn't you know that they pay excise tax??!!

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But this is a waste of time. 

Sorry. I'll be that guy.

Politicians have turned a blind eye for DECADES at the decay of the T. Handing out flies or having a rally won't make politicians change, especially on the T. Anyone who has rode the T in the past decade knows the T sucks and has sucked even more than ever.

And while I agree with her that the fare increase should be delayed due to the problems, doing so would cause a whole host of other problems (i.e. rolling back any accounting changes that have to be done, or refunding people the difference who already purchased next months pass). I think the time to get them to stop the fare increase has long since past.

Like I said, I agree with her and I also agree they should have not raised fares again.. but a rally.. meh. You might as well go sit in from of the escalator at 10 Park Plaza. You might get more traction from people who CAN make the change you want, rather than "preaching to the choir" to a punch of ralliers who already agree with you.

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with our thumbs up our butts instead. This is exactly what we should be doing, not typing up multiple paragraphs that say a whole lot of nothing on the intertubes.

"Politicians have turned a blind eye for DECADES, and I'm really upset that a politician is going to stop turning a blind eye!!!1!!!11!!!one!"

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This is exactly what we should be doing, not typing up multiple paragraphs that say a whole lot of nothing on the intertubes..

Your comment is dumb. God for bid, i write something while on a coffee break at work.

I'm not turning a blind eye. Actually if you knew me for all of 30 seconds you know I don't turn a blind eye to transit. I have a f'ing T logo on my arm I love transit so much. But I call a spade a spade when I see it.

You want to make REAL change. this rally isn't it. Media will cover the story and in 2 days it will be forgotten about. Politicians wont care, and honestly after the papers get dumped into a trash bin, neither will the general public until the train breaks down again.

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is that nothing will ever change, so don’t bother. That’s the kind of attitude that keeps us mired in the status quo. If you really support transit then stop dumping on advocates and activists. Get involved. Go to a meeting, and tell people how they’ll really make a difference. Offer an alternative.

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you dont believe this this "will do anything"

you "love transit"

...

and that you have no other suggestions.

what do you propose?

I realize you think public demonstrations are useless, and in many cases, those in power don't act immediately (except, you know, Hong Kong like right now), but demonstrations aren't just intended to get people in power to move on an issue. they work to signal to other citizens, and in this case T-riders, that you're not alone, we have the same frustrations as you, yes the public can organize around them and we're willing to work together to change things.

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A huge problem is that the ridership blames the T and not their elected reps and/or Baker. (Suburbanites are better about getting to the polls too.) The more people that make a stink about this being a serious problem, the more likely it will be that something will be done.

Protests like this help keep the issue simmering. It's not wasted effort.

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I've lived in Boston for 20 years now. And a stink has been made for as long as I can remember. It's been simmering since the 1980s and beyond.

This 'movement' is nothing new. What also isn't new how nothing ever seems to change. Movements have come and gone (i've seen a few) and nothing ever changes.

The issue is political will and there is none. Sure some pol's are warming up, but the ones who need to make this happen, won't listen.

The issue with the T is much larger than "funding" or "management" or "pensions" or "patronage". Its ALL of these things and it will take more than a rally, or a grass roots effort to make the change.

How? I'm not sure, but rally isn't going to change it. You want to use a rally to change, take my idea and go fill the lobby and 2nd floors of 10 park plaza every damn day until something is done. The minute you inconvenience real people who can make the change, and do it often, you'll get their attention and change will happen. Case in point.. Baker who does not ride the T. He isn't inconvenienced so he wont do anything. See my point?

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But nothing bad will come of the protest and if it gets some media attention, all the better.

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BostonDog, I'm not sure who you think it getting on all those commuter rail cars each morning other than suburbanites.

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The CR gets a lot more attention. It has tons of problems, but it gets a disproportionate amount of funding compared to the ridership. (The ferries even more so.) North-South rail link, expansion of South Station, and North Station added tracks get far more discussion compared to the daily failures on the subways.

But regardless, there is far too little pressure on Beacon Hill to fix the problems. It's always blammed on the T as if those elected are powerless and not to blame for the billions in deferred maintenance.

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While I agree that it's probably too late logistically to do something about the upcoming fare increase, I don't think rallies are a waste of time. The only way change is going to happen is to keep these issues in the public eye and in the news. Getting more people aware and on board can put more pressure on the politicians.

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Helps Michelle show she is one of the people so they will remember to vote for her instead of Mahty. I would like it better if she just went straight up against Charlie for Gov, who has the real control over the MBTA.

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Wu is right on the T but a broken record at this point. But still, she's right. I'd like to see her put out something about housing now. She is mostly silent on that issue, which is the biggest issue our city faces along with transportation. Where does she fall on the supply v demand argument? Is she for rent control? Does she want more "affordable housing," and if so, what's her plan to get there? She's likely going to run against Walsh in 2021 so it'd be good to know where she stands on this key issue. On the T, she's right and has that covered but again, broken record especially where ultimately the city doesn't control the T inner workings.

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She talks a LOT about affordable housing on Twitter, and regularly shows up to local forums etc on the issue.

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I have ridden the T for over 40 years, I'm old, get off my lawn, yet do not qualify for a senior citizens pass, which I just learned is $30. So I pay $90, although I only use the subway, but have to subsidize the senior citizens and bus riders. I am sure Waquoit will have a good response, but the biggest scam to me was eliminating the subway only passes and creating the link passes.

Buying the pass is not such a deal either; when you work out the cost per trip vs. paying for the monthly pass, the pass is about a $10 savings per month. Then you have open gates from time to time. If do not have a monthly pass and the gate is open, how many people will walk through the gate rather than paying the fare? My guess, based on observation witnessing these occurrences, is 9 out of 10. Buying the pass is for suckers, like it was when Keolis was not checking commuter rail tickets. I heard some great stories from commuter rail users at work about how people avoided paying fares.

Sorry, I need to take a nap.

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And yes, the Link Pass creation was a fine example of a good idea that could not possibly be executed well. I was asked to summarize a document some group made on the subject in the early 2000s. I mean, how do you not call it what is was going to be- jacking the fares on subway only riders while giving subway/bus commuters (raises hand) a cut in costs. In a zero sum world, that's what it was. I feel for the subway only folk. I really do.

And that's why I'm leery on most well intentioned ideas involving the T and it's fare structure. Not raising fares while costs go up ain't gonna get the tracks and signals fixed. Letting people in West Roxbury pay subway fares for the commuter rail while people in Newton who are closer to South Station pay zone 2 and those who were priced out of Boston to Brockton pay zone 4 ain't equity, either.

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35 year T rider (not as old, and not as prone to "get offa mah lawn").

When the MBTA brought CharlieCards online several years ago, they figured people would be loading money onto their passes and use it for both buses and subways, the Subway pass would be redundant.

I used a LinkPass for many years until I left my other job in Watertown, because at least one subway ride was required to get to Harvard Square. Now, I only need to take two buses to work, and I only need the $55.00 per month Bus Pass*. I'd be equally as upset as you are if my job were on the subway and they offered no separate pass.

*The bus fares and the monthly Bus Pass rate are remaining at the same rate - $2.00 without a Charlie Card, $1.70 with a Charlie Card, and $55.00 for a bus pass.

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How about nobody pays?

Jump the turnstiles or hold it open and let a few people pass every time you go through, they cant arrest all of us.

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the #posmesalto demonstrations in Mexico City were entertaining but in the end didn't affect fare increases, unfortunately.

sometimes though it works, like Passe Livre in Brazil. That's been a more sustained nationwide series of organized movements that relied on a variety of actions, not just direct civil disobedience. they also used large-scale blockades of major thoroughfares.

remember, friends, the T Riders Union exists!

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she needs to be the first jumper.

She won't be, of course; but it will happen.

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Again it just blows my mind that the MBTA can roll out filthy decrepit no air conditioning trains on a daily basis that are always breaking down due to zero maintenance performed on them and the tracks they run on, cry poor mouth, give us one lame excuse after anthor, but 7 days a week can have a half dozen MBTA undercover detectives at Andrew station busting $2 fare evaders!!!!!! Who controls how the budget is spent???? Complete insanity hire some $12 an hour security guards instead of these $40 an hour detectives that are handing out citations to people smoking cigarettes and jumping turnstiles!!!

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to be drinking so much coffee.

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are authorized to stop, arrest or cite fare evaders. All other T personnel are forbidden to intervene. That is why you see people brazenly walking right past T ambassadors and fare jumping

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Under the law inspectors also have the power to issue citations for fare evasion and the registry has the power to suspend a person drivers license for failure to pay. Inspectors have not issued one single citation and the registry has not suspended one person license. Fare evasion costs the MBTA over 40, million dollars last year.

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When you're doing service, you don't treat your customers like criminals to prevent them from stealing. You treat them like guests. You "help" individuals who "forgot to" or "didn't know how to" pay find the fare machine and the gate.

But there is no one working in the stations or the vehicles who seems capable of even the rudiments of customer service, and there are constant issues with payment bottlenecking service (eg. Green Line boarding above ground, commuter rail cash fares, bus rear boarding) which the agency seemingly does nothing to resolve. It's conceptually simple to address these problems with procedural and technical fixes. If the T is not capturing fares, it really is not the riders fault. We want the agency to take our money and give us BETTER SERVICE. Stop chasing gate jumpers and fix the SERVICE.

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The T raises the fares and the only ones who are punished are the honest commuters who pay their fares. Thousands evade paying the fares and the Transit Police refuse to enforce the rules and the District Attorney refuses to prosecute those who are arrested for disorderly conduct or trespassing after refusing to pay their fares. The registry also refuses to suspend the drivers licenses of those who fail to pay their fines after being cited for fare evasion. Once again the only ones getting punished are the honest commuters.

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A large group of people standing at a t station for hours. How do you know it's a protest?

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cybah is spot on. The T will not be improved under our current “democracy” supported by our American Caste system. You would need ten billion dollars Just to bring it up to date, but nobody will pay for it -not the drivers, the riders, or the Feds. The leaders in the Corp/Gov/Media love the T as is. They don’t use it themselves but the fact that others do reinforces their status as society’s winners. By saying that they are working to improve the T at some point down the road, they are really saying, “You will bend over and you will ride these trains and you will like it, you f***in loser, haha.”

Possible solutions to fix the T: 1) Prole revolution backed by the military to at least partially overthrow State Gov, or 2) outsource state government administration to ChiComs, or 3) privatize entire system and sell to someone like the Trump Organization, allow them to put their name all over the infrastructure, or 4) [some other weird idea]

Think about it...We are the richest, most powerful country in the history of civilization and we can’t get the trains to run on time. The problems with our gov and society goes deeper than just fare hikes, buying out pensions, a new General Manager, and improving signaling systems.

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I see what you did there with the title

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...an MBTA Passengers' Association, to lobby the state for more and better public trasnsportation.

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The T Riders Union. Been around a long time.

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