The T is now starting a conversation about choices between fare increases and service reductions.
Over the past few months, we have reduced the severity of this choice (a) by passing legislation to procure T employee health care benefits more efficiently through the Group Insurance Commision; (b) by raising the sales tax and devoting a portion of the revenues to T deficit reduction. We also passed legislation to rein in T employee pension benefits but this offers mostly long-term savings. I personally remain prepared to go further and increase the gas tax to better fund both roads and transit infrastructure.
However, the tax and savings picture is what it is for now and the T still faces a deficit. So the conversation begins. If a fare increase is approved (to $1.50 for the bus, $2.00 for the subway), service cuts will be unnecessary. And my read is that the likely outcome, given what we have already done for the T, is the fare increase, rather than a package including service cuts. But among the alternatives on the table that affect our area are:
- Elimination of less used bus routes, including the following in our immediate area
- the 72 along Huron Avenue
- the 76 and the 62/76 to Hanscom Field
- the 78 to Arlmont
- the 79 to Arlington Heights
- the 351 to Oak Park
- Reduce all weekday evening bus service by 50%
- Reduce all weekened bus service by 50%
- Reduce midday weekday subway service by 50%
- Closure of the Waverley commuter rail stop
None of these cuts are desirable for our communities and the weekday service cuts seem especially negative as they would affect flexibility for all workers commuting.
The following hearings are among those closest to our communties:
- Monday, August 10 Gardner Auditorium-State House, 24 Beacon Street, Boston, 4:00-7:00 P.M.
- Thursday, August 13, Somerville High School Auditorium, 81 Highland Ave., Somerville, 5:30-7:30 P.M.
- Thursday, August 27, State Transportation Building 10 Park Plaza, Boston, 5:30-7:30 P.M.
There is more information at the T website, including a full explanation of the options on the table.
The T needs to exercise prudent fiscal management rather than place the burden for its failure to do so squarely on the backs of riders again and again. There are only so many fare hikes riders can absorb, and service reductions hurt everyone. Certainly, those who depend on public transporation are hurt most directly. But at a time we’re looking toward green solutions for decades of environmental abuse, the T ought to be expanding rather than narrowing our options. Thank you, Rep. Brownsberger; I wouldn’t have known about the public hearings but for you. The information you provide on this site is empowering.
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