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Statement of MASSPIRG Staff Attorney Lizzi Weyant on the MBTA Board of Directors vote, approving a 23% fare hike on the T
“Today the Board of Directors at the MBTA voted to approve a recommended 23% fare hike by a 4-1 vote. The Board also voted to cut weekend service on the E line and eliminate some weekend commuter rail service. The Board’s vote comes after months of public meetings in which T riders and advocates urged the MBTA to find another way to close its FY13 budget gap.
A 23% fare increase is excessive and will permanently force riders off of the system. The MBTA’s mission is aimed at growing ridership, but a fare hike of this magnitude will mean that thousands of riders will immediately stop using public transportation because it will be more affordable to get back into their cars.
Further, the Board’s decision relies on $60 million in legislative support, with those funds coming from a vehicle registration surplus fund, a tort reform cap, and other sources. But the legislature must go beyond this proposal and come up with a solution so that we can increase ridership and fix our broken public transportation system.
If the public meetings showed nothing else, they clearly illustrated that there is overwhelming support for increased investments in public transportation. We need the legislature to come up with at least $60 million to deal with the short-term gap and stave off draconian service cuts that will follow if that money never materializes.
But it will be just as important for the legislature to find a long-term solution in order to fill a growing transportation funding gap, projected to be over $100 million for FY14, with regional transportation authorities across the state contemplating similar fare hikes and service cuts and crumbling roads and bridges in every corner of the commonwealth.
Our decision-makers must come up with a long-term solution to address our transportation needs. The history of under-funding needs to end immediately so that we can avoid more fare hikes and service cuts next year, and so that we can have the kind of 21st century transportation system that we need and want.”
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