On Wednesday, the final public hearing regarding the MBTA’s two proposals -- both containing unfair and unpopular fare hikes and service cuts -- was finished. Now Boston commuters will have to wait until April 4 for the board’s decision. It’s important to know that these proposals didn’t just pop up, there’s a long history behind them -- one tied up with (what else?) the Big Dig. Here’s a timeline of how we ended up in this desperate situation
1949: Walter A. O’Brien runs for mayor, speaking out against exit fares. The “MTA” song, better known as “Charlie on the MTA,” is released as part of his campaign.
1982: I-93 can’t handle traffic coming into Boston and a solution is needed -- bureaucracy to the rescue! Underground tunnels are chosen to ease traffic away from the Central Artery. Plans at this point see the project completed in 1998.
1985: Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff gets the contract for $2.6 billion. That’s a cute number.
1991: Actual construction begins on Ted Williams Tunnel.
1997: Mass Turnpike Authority created and becomes co-owners of project along with Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff. Something’s up -- Peter Berlandi works for both Gov. William Weld and Betchel? Next you’ll tell me Weld received donations from Betchel and Parsons executives…
1998: Cost estimate rises to $10.8 billion (adjusted to inflation) and project isn’t close to finished. Start of the modern Big Dig era.
1999: Turns out costs are actually closer to $12.2 billion. #Oops. Sorry, taxpayers. Blame is laid on project boss James Kerasiotes, forcing him to step down among federal investigations.
2000: ”Forward Funding“ legislation is passed to subsidize the MBTA with 20% of statewide sales tax revenue -- which probably didn’t sound too bad at the time, considering the sales tax increased annually by an average of 6.5 percent from 1990 to 200o, and an yearly increase of at least two percent was expected.
The state also pushed $3.3 billion of debt onto the MBTA (most of it from the Big Dig), which probably sounded just as fucking awful then as it does now.
2003: The Big Dig opens to public in December, five years late and billions over budget, totaling at $14.6 billion. The best part? It’s still not done!
2004: Shit just gets ugly in the Big Dig -- freezing, hundreds of leaks, Governor Romney…
Sales tax increase is negligible, and the MBTA fails to make an expected $21 million.
2005: One hundred sixty-nine defective panels are found in tunnels.
A police raid reveals six employees of Aggregate Industries, the projects biggest concrete suppliers, falsified records and other frauds.Arrests and indictments made in following years.
Another shortfall of $21 million for the MBTA due to Forward Funding failing.
2006: Jamaica Plain resident Milena del Valle is killed by ceiling collapse - all eyes on the Big Dig now.
MBTA comes up short by $35 million this year.
2007: The Big Dig declared “finished” on December 31.
MBTA records a shortfall of $35 million.
2011: Big Dig still falling apart, then-general manager of MBTA (current Transportation Secretary) Richard Davey promises transparency.
In Septemeber, OCCUPY BOSTON begins, establishing a large base for MBTA protests and rallies once the camp is dismantled.
MBTA hits record low shortfall of $100 million, total underpeformance of $375 million since Forward Funding began. They now have a debt of $5.2 billion, the highest of any transit system in the nation.
1.17: First public hearings are held in Newton and Worcestor. Newton attracts nearly 200 people.
1.23: T Riders fill two public hearings over capacity in one day in Boston’s Department of Transportation, sending a clear message with their numbers alone.
2.13: T Rider’s Union organizes a rally in Copley Square before public hearing in Boston Library. High schoolers, the elderly, and the disabled make their voices heard.
2.23: Gov. Deva Patrick considers funding the MBTA with the unused snow-removal budget as a short term solution. Gotta love warm winters.
2.25: Protestors return to Copley Square for another rally and march into the streets. Occupiers are prominent -- there’s no love for Mitt Romney here.
3.14: Final Pubic Hearing starts with an Occupy Boston mic check.
Final recommendation due the week of March 26; final vote April 4.