Opposing MBTA Fare Increases

Previously believing that MBTA management, led by General Manager Dan Grabauskas, whom I perceive to a serious fiscal conservative, perceived a deficit and was advocating for the MBTA fare increase, I was prepared to accept it as an alternative to service cuts.   The service cuts proposed for my district and elsewhere would deprive many people of essential mobility.

The story which came out today in the Boston Globe is a block buster.  It makes clear that Dan Grabauskas was actually opposed to a fare increase and did not believe that it was necessary, given what the legislature has been able to do for the T in terms cost-saving reforms and additional support from sale tax revenues.  I respect Dan Grabauskas’ judgment.  On that basis, and given all of the negatives of a fare increase for people in need, I oppose a fare increase.

I testified yesterday against the service cuts that would affect my district, as many of you have urged me to do, but I was neutral on the question of a fare increase.  I will testify additionally at the Thursday hearing to express opposition to a fare increase.

Afternoon update:  Sounds like it’s moot and the issue of a fare increase is dead.  The Governor hasn’t explicitly ruled it out, cancelling hearings pending a review, but given the apparent injection of politics into the process, I really think it will be hard for the MBTA to credibly make a case for a fare increase.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

8 replies on “Opposing MBTA Fare Increases”

  1. The Globe article was an eye-opener. Dan Grabauskus, whom many were led to believe was responsible for pending fare hikes, is as much a victim of political gamesmanship as T riders. The Patrick administration owes all of us an apology.

    1. Two things have been discussed so far. One is service cuts, and another is fare increases. What about service improvements? I commute by Red Line to work, and subscribe to the T alerts email service which warns of service delays. I get on average probably 3-5 notices per day. A few of them are medical emergencies or police actions, but most of them are mechanical difficulties such as signal problems or disabled trains. According to a recent newspaper article (http://www.wickedlocal.com/newton/homepage/x639779808/MBTA-struggles-to-deal-with-massive-debts), “the MBTA faces a $2.7 billion backlog in repair projects and budgets $470 million in repairs annually to maintain normal service.” Do Grabauska’s numbers take that into account?

    2. a “victim of political gamesmanship”???

      I’m sick of hearing about poor, poor Dan Grabauskas and his $327,000!

      When that NTSB report came out, Dan should have cut short his furlough and done what the NTSB told him to do. Dan’s disappearing act can’t be called leadership.

  2. Important to note the following:

    – Link pass cost pre-charlie card – $69
    – Link pass cost post-charlie card – $59
    – Most recent proposed increase for link pass with charlie card – $69

    – Bus plus subway ride pre-charlie card – 0.90 plus 1.25 = $2.15
    – Bus plus subway ride post-charlie card – $1.70
    – Most recent proposed increase for bus plus subway ride with charlie card = $2.00

    Both are either the same or less than 4-5 years ago – Not bad at all…

  3. I believe the state needs to look at a holistic approach to funding transportation. The gas tax is going to collect less and less money as higher mileage cars be come the norm in the near future. The MBTA is not the most well managed agency because of politics and history. It needs to continue to invest in more green house gas reducing transportation technologies, like expanding trackless trolley buses to heavily used routes. Fares will and cannot not cover everything that needs to be done, the gas tax buys less and less failing to keep up with the necessary road repairs, community assessments are not going to keep up with funding needs.

    I think the Governor is looking ahead to his re-election and is attempting to get a problem dealt with now that could be a hot potato when he tries to get re-elected if he waits to when action really needs to happen. This is a tactical view of the fare question. American voters seem to have very short memories and kicking the can down the road is a time honored answer to unpleasant funding questions in this state (Think the Big Dig!). I also think he is trying to not rock the boat and make comprehensive reforms which could actually result in a better long term situation but will upset many interested parties by making these parties work harder for their money. Which is really to bad for those of us who depend on good reliable and not very expensive transportation. So a crisis will continue and a new one is predictable.

  4. Thanks for opposing the T fare increases Will. Reduction in service is the other shoe that may yet drop, and many of us have already taken the liberty of contacting the T on our own. Government subsidies for public transportation are just good economic, social, and environmental policy. For those who argue the “free” market will always miraculously provide the perfect answer and government need not “meddle,” just look at 14 years of national wealth up in smoke overnight, our complete lack of any coherent energy policy, or the fact that 1 out of 6 Americans are without health care. Each of these is a national disgrace and the direct result of too little government “intervention,” not too much, and/or “intervention” in the form of giveaways to the already rich and powerful. Since time immemorial, all governments have redistributed wealth. That’s what governments do. Read history, get over it. The idea is to redistribute wealth equitably, to maximize “the greatest good for the greatest number” (The Founding Fathers, not Marx). Public spending on public transportation is just one of those basic investments—like the GI Bill, the interstate highway system, Social Security, Medicare, national defense—that’s simply the most cost effective, efficient, and, yes, ultimately business-friendly way to provide for the common good. Reducing T service for cash-strapped families, students, and elders on fixed incomes hits hardest at those who are least able cope in these challenging economic times.

    1. I’m pretty sure that both service cuts and fair increases are dead through the next election. They can’t do material service cuts without hearings and, given the way this has blown up for the Patrick administration, I can’t imagine they would wish to open Pandora’s box again.

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