Boston: Unanimous opposition to MBTA fare hike at public hearing
John Marion and Kate Randall
3 March 2019
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is planning to impose fare increases averaging 6.3 percent on its bus, subway and commuter rail riders effective July 1.
Riders and advocates who packed a public meeting in Boston on Wednesday night expressed unanimous opposition to the plan in remarks directed to the system’s general manager and the vice chair of its unelected Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB).
Typical were the remarks of Reginald Clark, a rider who is legally blind, who said in his testimony, “If you’re going to raise the fares on poor people who can’t afford it then that’s not going to do any good, that’s going to make it worse. You need to think of the people that can’t afford it. And ask us what ideas we have.
The MBTA—known as the “T”—estimates that the hikes will bring in $32 million in new revenues next year, less than one-tenth of the debt service paid out annually to predatory lenders that invest in the bonds issued to fund necessary maintenance and expansion programs. These debt payments, which at nearly $500 million per year are the second largest cost category in the operating budget, will grow even larger as short-term federal funding for MBTA capital projects runs out.
Republican Governor Charlie Baker is defending the fare hike with the argument that Massachusetts taxpayers, many of whom don’t use the MBTA, already contribute $1 billion to it annually. What he doesn’t say is that all of this money comes from a regressive sales tax which is hardest on workers and the poor.
The $8 billion needed to fix the rundown public transportation system could easily be found…