Fare increases and service cuts are unwise, unfair and unnecessary
T Riders Union questions fare hike proposal at MBTA Board Meeting
[BOSTON—Wednesday, December 7] Public transit riders of the T Riders Union (TRU) testified at the MBTA Board of Directors meeting today, raising questions about the decision-making process behind the pending fare increase and service cuts proposal. TRU members called out the MBTA for a lack of transparency and flexibility in the proposal for its FY 2012 – 2013 budget.
Referring to the draft proposals as “unwise, unfair and unnecessary,” riders shared serious concerns with board members, MassDOT CEO Richard Davey and MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis. TRU member Taisha O’Bryant of Charlestown called the one-year solution short-sighted, asking why the T has not presented a multi-year solution to more accurately reflect the Authority’s financial and maintenance costs.
“How can riders and legislators make an informed decision when the full scope of the T’s debt burden is being hidden?” said Taisha O’Bryant.
Citing another instance of opacity, riders asked why the draft proposals only rely on fare increases and service cuts to close the budget gap despite assurances otherwise.
“We have consistently been told that all options are on the table and yet, here again the T is trying to plug a growing hole with the same tired idea: balancing the budget on the backs of riders through another fare increase and cuts,” added Gwendolyn Vincent of Dorchester. “But raising fares and cutting service won’t fix the $3 billion Big Dig debt load or even make a dent in the nearly $9 billion total debt.”
TRU members identified gross inequities in the proposal, where the highest proportional increases will be forced on the most vulnerable riders through the elimination of senior and student passes. Passengers with disabilities who depend on THE RIDE may also face steep service restructuring and cuts.
“I’m a person with that has dealt with a disability and I live on a limited income. This proposal will affect me by limiting where I go like doctor’s appointments for me and my daughter Kamiya, food shopping, and places I work to make a positive difference in my community everyday,” said Patricia Hayden of Dorchester. “It is unconscionable to burden riders in a time when more Americans are living below the poverty line than ever before.”
Engaging the largest stakeholders—the riders who make 1.35 million daily passenger trips—needs to be an integral part of these draft proposals. Though MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey has alluded to an imminent release of the working proposal and hearing schedule, nothing has yet been distributed. TRU received advance copies of the proposals as a member of the T Riders Oversight Committee (TROC).
“The sooner the MBTA releases information about the proposal and hearing schedule, the better. Riders need time to be able to respond thoughtfully and engage in a genuine process that includes us—the T’s most loyal customers,” said Louise Baxter of South Boston.