GREATER BOSTON has one of the most expansive transit services for the disabled in the nation — and it shows in the bottom line. The Ride, the MBTA’s fleet of white-and-yellow cars and vans, is a lifeline for many residents who would otherwise be stranded. But it’s become a financial disaster. The Ride’s costs have quadrupled in a decade, and show no signs of abating. Each trip costs $40. The system carries less than 1 percent of the T’s passengers, but consumes almost 10 percent of its budget. It’s a vital, necessary service, but not sustainable in its current form.
With the deadline for submitting opinions on the MBTA plan to cut late-night and weekend commuter rail service approaching on Tuesday, the Manchester selectmen have sent a letter expressing their disapproval of the plan — and are offering what they say is an alternative.
“The members of the Board of Selectmen in Manchester-by-the-Sea wish to go on record as opposing the proposed weekend service cuts on the Rockport/Newburyport commuter rail line,” the letter begins.
Should Massachusetts General Hospital and the Museum of Fine Arts pay a fee to the MBTA for the “naming rights” of T stations bearing their landmark names? Should the debt-riddled agency freeze its employees’ salaries for a year? Should Bay State drivers cough up an extra 2-cents-per gallon to help bail out the T?
These are just a few of the smorgasbord of questions posed by the “MBTA Budget Calculator: How Would You Fix the T’s Budget?” — a website designed to take the pulse of T riders and the public on how to close the T’s $161 million budget gap.
Throngs of area residents filled an overcrowded room at Government Center in Boston on March 1 as the MBTA tried to explain its proposal to cut services and raise fares.
The MBTA has proposed two potential scenarios to deal with its deficit. In Wilmington, scenario one would have fares increase from $6.75 to $9.75, a 44 percent increase. Scenario two would have the fares increase to $7, a $33 percent increase. In both plans, rates for the commuter rail’s park-and-ride facilities remain as they currently are, at $4.
Lawmakers and the Patrick administration should withdraw $50 million from the state’s $1 billion reserve account to help pay down the MBTA’s budget deficit and forestall the worst impact of proposed fare hikes and service cuts proposed by the public transit agency that serves half of the state’s 351 communities, a group backed by Boston’s largest businesses and universities recommended Monday in a new report.
A Better City, a nonprofit group whose board includes Bank of America, Harvard University, MIT, Fidelity and John Hancock, called on the MBTA to limit fare hikes to no more than 25 percent and to piece together a solution to its budget deficit that features smaller, recurring fare hikes combined with limited service cuts and other sources of state funding.
Needham residents and town officials spoke out Monday night against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s plan to cut service and raise fees, saying access to Boston was one of the things that attracted businesses and homebuyers to Needham.
About 35 people attended the Needham Transportation Committee’s public hearing on the MBTA proposals, held Feb. 27 at Town Hall. A panel of speakers including NTC members Richard Creem, Duncan Allen, Linda Hoard and Stephen McKnight, State Sen. Richard Ross, State Rep. Denise Garlick and MBTA Advisory Board Executive Director Paul Regan provided background on the issue and answered questions from the community.
Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday that his administration is considering the use of excess snow-and-ice removal funds to help limit the service cuts proposed by the MBTA, as the cash-strapped agency deals with a yawning projected budget deficit.
“It’s one we’re thinking about. It’s February. You know how New England is. We’ve had a good and calm and relatively snow-free winter so far. If the winter continues as it has been, there will be unspent snow and ice budget. That may be part of the one-year fix,” Patrick said, adding, “We need a permanent fix. We are working on both what the permanent fix ought to be … and also what a short-term measure ought to be so we can avoid some of the service cuts that are on the table right now.”
Roberto Chavez has been living in Chelsea for 32 years, and he remembers when $180 could get him a three-bedroom apartment with heat included.
“Now you can’t even get a bedroom for $180,’’ said the 65-year-old.
Chavez is well aware of what his dollar can, or in most cases cannot, buy him. He and his wife, Marta, live on a fixed Social Security income of $640 a month, and each spend $20 a month for reduced-fare MBTA passes, their main mode of transportation. That is why the agency’s proposed fare hikes and service cuts beginning July 1 have Chavez worried not just about higher costs but about their quality of life.
Proposed MBTA service cuts and fare hikes deliver a body blow to people across the board: the elderly, working poor, wheelchair bound, Boston bound and business people, alike.
That was the plea to ‘T’ officials Tuesday in the auditorium at Lynn City Hall.