Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1/17 to 3/6: MBTA Public Meetings

If you haven't heard, the T is facing a large operating budget shortfall [Globe/Herald].

I went to a public meeting when the MBTA considered raising fares a couple years ago (and taxes were raised to avoid an increase). Someone explained the budgetary pickle much like this article.

Currently, there appears to be 2 potential proposals of fare increases & service reductions that can be reviewed in a "Discussion Guide" on the MBTA site.

There are PDF and Word versions in English, Cape Verdean, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. FYI, both of them screw the riders in any language...

The full schedule of related public meetings is listed below, and they begin tonight and are free to attend!

Someone recently asked me what can be done. It seems like there are a handful of options that come to mind:

1) Go to one of the public meetings to share your personal transit story and/or express general outrage.

2) Start/sign an online petition to protest the changes -- or to call for an independent audit of the MBTA books.

3) Follow a burgeoning "Occupy the MBTA" on Facebook or Twitter and see what ideas pop up.

4) Hold a fundraiser for the T.
It's my understanding that at least a few MBTA board members are supposed to be at each meeting, so your voice will be heard.

As I see it, the public needs to express their opinion on fares and services. The MBTA will feel empowered to do whatever they want if we don't participate at all.

TUES 1/17
5:30pm to 7:30pm
Newton City Hall, War Memorial Hall, 1000 Commonwealth Ave

6pm to 8pm
Worcester Public Library, Saxe Room, 3 Salem Square
WED 1/18
6pm to 8pm
Chelsea Public Library, Auditorium, 569 Broadway
THUR 1/19
6pm to 8pm
Roxbury Community College, Auditorium, 1234 Columbus Ave
MON 1/23
1pm to 3pm
4:30pm to 6:30pm
State Transportation Building, Floor 2, Conference Rooms 2 & 3, 10 Park Plaza, Boston
TUES 1/24
4:30pm to 8pm
Attleboro High School, 100 Rathbun Willard Drive
WED 1/25
6pm to 8pm
Salem City Hall Annex, 3rd Floor Conference Room, 120 Washington St
TUES 1/31
6pm to 8pm
Mildred Avenue Community Center, 5 Mildred Ave, Mattapan
WED 2/1
6pm to 8pm
Hennigan Community Center Cafeteria, 200 Heath St, Jamaica Plain
THUR 2/2
1pm to 3pm
6pm to 8pm
Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, Multi-Purpose Room, 1353 Dorchester Avenue
MON 2/6
5pm to 7pm
Lowell City Hall Council Chambers, 375 Merrimack Street
TUES 2/7
6pm to 8pm
Lynn City Council Chambers, 3 City Hall Square
WED 2/8
4:30pm to 6:30pm
Shriners Hospital Auditorium, 51 Blossom St, Boston (behind MGH)

6pm to 8pm
Hingham Town Hall, Central Meeting Room, 210 Central Street
MON 2/13
6pm to 8pm
Boston Public Library, Boston Room, 700 Boylston Street
TUES 2/14
6pm to 8pm
Framingham Town Hall, 150 Concord Street
WED 2/15
6:30pm to 8:30pm
Quincy High School Auditorium, 100 Coddington Street

6pm to 8pm
Thomas Crane Public Library Community Room, 40 Washington St, Quincy
(Thanks, Jen, for the update!)
THUR 2/16
6pm to 8pm
Malden City Council Chambers, 200 Pleasant Street
TUES 2/28
6pm to 8pm
Somerville High School Auditorium, 81 Highland Avenue
WED 2/29
6pm to 8pm
Cambridge City Hall Council Chambers, 795 Mass Ave

6pm to 8pm
Cambridge Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass Ave
THUR 3/1
6pm to 8pm
Government Center Auditorium, 119 School Street, Waltham
TUES 3/6
6pm to 8pm
Massasoit Community College, Liberal Arts Building, Lecture Hall LA 560
1 Massasoit Boulevard, Brockton


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Sean said...

I suggest those of us who want sustained, if not improved public transit in Greater Boston, take a cold, hard look at not just protesting, but proposing what it is that we do support to fix the T's finances. That is, if want decent, or even improved transit, we do have to pay for it somehow. Certainly I believe the massive, all-at-once fare increases and simultaneous service cuts will do nothing but undermine the public will to support paying for the system at all. Either of the two proposed courses of action are nothing more than a recipe for self-assured failure and decline of the MBTA.

As for what I support, I would think regular, incremental fare adjustments, might be sensible, but aren't the full answer of course. Squeezing out inefficiencies and refinancing, or shifting debt, are not real solutions either. At the end of the day, I believe we must levy some sort of taxation that unlike the sales tax formula, actually brings in the amount needed to fund operations and capital repairs and improvements for the T.

Mass Inc., a non-partisan think-tank has some truly reasonable and realistic proposals; backed by cold-hard data that I believe we all should take a good look at, and debate. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.massinc.org%2FResearch%2FMoving-Forward-with-Funding.aspx&h=yAQHow-hNAQH_tnfxmk2clAiMs6kx7-fSyPj09egfiC9hNg

Divided among the denizens of Greater Boston, the MBTA funding gap is not an outrageous figure; perhaps a couple hundred dollars per head depending on how you slice it. If that would yield transit that is reliable and of good quality; I for one would be willing to pay more than my share of such a bargain! Heck, I'd without pause, agree to pay double or triple that in added taxes each year. I know the alternative, owning and using a car for my primary mode of transport would easily cost me $10,000 a year or more; not to mention the cost of the externalities.