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Statement of MASSPIRG Staff Attorney, Lizzi Weyant, on the MBTA’s new recommendations for closing its FY13 budget gap:
“In response to the tremendous public outcry against their initial proposal, the MBTA announced revised recommendations for fare hikes and service cuts to close its FY13 budget gap. These revised recommendations would still raise fares an average of 23%, with seniors and the disabled seeing an even larger fare hike. While the T has backed away from its original proposal to drastically cut service, it still plans to cut weekend service on the E line and eliminate some weekend commuter rail service.
These proposals still go too far in balancing the books on the backs of riders because a 23 percent fare increase is excessive and will permanently force riders off of the system. The MBTA’s very mission is aimed at growing ridership, but a fare hike of this magnitude will mean that up to 11% of riders will immediately stop using the system.
From grandmothers who commute on the 78 bus to the superheroes that took over the MBTA Board meeting, the huge and unequivocal response from the public has been, we want more investment in public transportation, not less. The legislature must take action to stave off these fare hikes and come up with a solution so that we can increase ridership and fix our broken public transportation system.
We need a meaningful, statewide investment in our transportation system so that we can improve and expand the MBTA and RTAs, fix our crumbling roads and bridges, and invest in active transportation options like biking and walking. Now is the time for the Legislature to make that investment.
The MBTA proposals included $61 million in one-time revenues, but they rely on unreliable funding sources and will result in a $100 million funding gap for FY14. It is unacceptable that because of the legislature’s inaction, the MBTA will be forced to raise fares or cut more service again as early as next year.
It is bad public policy for riders to be forced to shoulder the MBTA’s financial burden. Our decision-makers need to come up with a short-term solution to stave off these fare hikes and service cuts and immediately find a long-term solution so that we’re not back here next year.”
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