A few months ago, Boston's transit agency announced that in order to meet its mandatory budget goals, it was going to have to do one of two things:
- Cut lots of service and raise fares a bit
- Cut some service and raise fares a lot
Services on the chopping block include:
- Commuter rail, which serves many outlying suburbs, after 10pm and on weekends. No more trips to the North Shore for you people in Boston! And if you use it to get to work on the weekends, or you leave work really late? Tough.
- Weekend service on the branch of the Green Line that serves Northeastern University, the VA hospital, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Because tourists, students, and veterans can surely just use the buses instead. (Actually, the bus that parallels most of that route . . . well, it's often faster than the train.)
- The ferries that connect more far-flung communities with Boston. They don't serve a huge number of people, but for those people, that is their only option to get to jobs in Boston without a horribly long commute by car.
- Over 100 bus lines. Some communities would lose all of their public transit. All of it.
The history of the T's debt is complicated. The state legislature has not been real good about making sure our public transit is taken care of. They dumped a bunch of debt onto our public transit that belongs to the Big Dig - which serves auto traffic. And the MBTA made further mistakes trying to decrease its debt.
As you can imagine, many people are up in arms about the current proposals. Occupy Somerville has been focused on this more than any other local or national issue, and many people in Occupy Boston are as well. Lots of other citizen and transit-oriented groups have held rallies, put up flyers in bus stops, and shown up in force at the many public hearings that the MBTA is using to gather feedback about the proposals.
Below is video and my notes and commentary about the hearing in Somerville on Tuesday night.