Wednesday, May 31, 2006

If you are reading this right now, you’re probably on the T, and that means that the fare restructuring plan for 2007 the MBTA recently rolled out probably concerns you somehow, maybe in a casual kind of way, but maybe, if you’re barely getting by as it is, more vitally. With a little more than a week to go in the purely palliative public education and hearing process, it’s fast approaching the time to speak up or forever hold your peace.

I’ve decided, somewhat grudgingly, I’ll admit, that I can live with these fare increases (with a little help from my bike), but I will still be in Copley Square June 6th at 4 PM at a rally sponsored by TJustice.info to demonstrate against the increases before heading to the MBTA hearing at 4:30 at the Boston Public Library, the last such hearing in Boston before the new fares are finalized. Why? Because while the standardization of fares across the system is a good move—and it’s about time—the increased fares address only the current budget shortfall, and do absolutely nothing to fix what’s wrong with the T in the long run. This is at best a quick fix, and the MBTA admits as much. Unless the legislature goes back to the drawing board on the manner in which the T is funded, you can count on more major fare increases in the very foreseeable future.

It’s important to remember that there are four parties that must be involved in the decision-making process here: the public, first and foremost, the legislature, the MBTA management, and the unions. Presently, the public feels alienated, the legislature has washed its hands of the matter of mass transit, and MBTA management is pleading helplessness against an immovable legislature and bullying unions. The unions, for their part, remain silent on the fare hikes, pointing mutely at the management, who says it has been left no choice by the legislature but to raise fares. Sound dysfunctional enough for you? It’ll only get worse if the public doesn’t stand up and say, “enough, already!”

The answer is not merely “more money,” although, as Jeremy Marin, co-chair of the T Rider Oversight Committee (ROC) recently wrote in these pages, “our transit system is in fiscal gridlock.” There is also a culture at the T that’s costing us all big time and must be reformed. But first, the MBTA and the legislature, and groups that dropped the ball on this all need to know that you know that the current manner in which the T is managed, maintained, and funded is not working for those it exists to serve, and that biennial fare hikes are an ineffectual and thus unacceptable way to fix what’s wrong with the T. The legislature needs to go back to work on this. Let them know you know it by signing the petition at tjustice.info and showing up at Copley Square at 4 on the 6th.

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