T riders filled two public hearings over capacity in the Department Transportation on Monday to speak against two MBTA proposals that outline fare hikes and service cuts as a solution to the MBTA’s $160 million deficit.
A woman who identified herself with Occupy Boston thought parts of the proposals were a ruse by the MBTA. She directed testimony to Jonathan Davis, acting general manager of the MBTA with one question: Is this real?
“We’re not happy we’re having to make these recommendations either,” said Davis. “We understand that this will affect peoples lives.”
Davis, who said he took the T everyday, said the MBTA deficit was a problem that needed to be addressed.
“Clearly, right now we cannot afford the transportation system we have,” he said.
The first scenario cuts fewer routes than the second but at a higher fare hike. T fare would increase from $1.70 with a Charlie card to $2.40. Bus fare with a Charlie card would increase from $1.25 to $1.75 and a monthly link pass from $59 to $80. Under the first scenario, 99 percent of bus riders would be unaffected, according to a presentation by Josh Robin, director of innovation.
The second scenario would increase bus fares from $1.25 to $1.50 with a Charlie card and T fares from $1.70 to $2.25 but at the expense of bus routes many who testified use to get to work. The monthly link pass under the second scenario would increase from $59 to $78.
Both scenarios eliminate all ferry routes, commuter rail trains on weekdays after 10 p.m. and weekends, and the Green E Line service on weekends.
“I think there should be no fare hikes or service cuts. It’s effectively a wage cut for all workers in Boston,” said Rick Magon from Dorchester outside of the hearing.
The MBTA board will use input from 24 public hearings around the state to make a final recommendation in March. Upon approval in April, the changes will be implemented in July.
Speakers gave personal statements on how their lives would be affected citing increase in car volume, pollution and decrease in property values as additional concerns. Others lobbied fellow attendees to reach out to Beacon Hill to provide additional funding. Most felt the proposals were an unfair burden to T riders who should not have to pay for the Big Dig, Boston’s multibillion dollar highway project in the 1980’s.
Charles Planck, senior director of strategic initiatives, said that the MBTA will use all testimony to modify the proposals, but the modified proposal would have to be the “same size” as the two proposed.
Collecting all fares from fare evaders would not be enough to settle the debt, according to Planck.
Can’t attend a hearing? You can still submit testimony to:
MBTA Fare Proposal
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116