MBTA railroading public on fare hikes, service cuts

Beatrice Bell
Spare Change News

On January 23,. I went to a public meeting at the state Transportation Building in Boston and I, along with the hundreds of other people who had attended, was shocked to see how cold and callous some MBTA representatives sounded when they were speaking about fare hikes and service cutbacks slated for July of this year.

MBTA higher-ups have decided that they want everyday T riders to pay higher fares and to stay home more often. Those of us who go to work, school, medical appointments and out to enjoy being with our friends and family will have to live within new time constraints if the MBTA has its way.

The fare hikes, and service cutbacks to subway, bus, commuter rail and ferry service, are detailed here, http://mbta.com/about_the_mbta/?id=23567

Lee Matsueda of the T Riders Union and people from several different areas, towns, and companies showed up to protest the MBTA’s plans to eliminate so many routes. Many people who showed up were elderly and disabled individuals who decided to protest against the MBTA plan to eliminate the #55 bus and several other buses which go through elderly and disabled communities such as near Fenway Park.

Many of the non-elderly and non-disabled individuals complained about not being able to take the Commuter Rail to see friends and family on the weekends and for holidays, and not being able to get to work and school because of the plan eliminating over 100 buses, which are important to people’s livelihoods.

Some of the elderly, disabled, students and persons such as myself pointed out to Jonathan Davies, general manager for the MBTA, that if you cut or eliminate bus and train services, that affects people who are homeless and non-homeless who need to go to work, school, to find a job, go to medical appointments, and to take care of all sorts of other business around the city of Boston.

Changes in transportation make it so that the city of Boston will lose tourism dollars. When tourists don’t visit, that affects the whole state’s economy. We lose money when people with families and visitors from other states and countries don’t want to visit Massachusetts.

On Jan. 31, I along with several other individuals met at Rosie’s Place to speak about Martin Luther King Jr. It was a nice discussion. One thing that I brought up to Representative Byron Rushing, Darnell Williams (Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts), Mimi Ramos (New England United for Justice), David Harris (Charles Hamilton House Institute) and to Professor Randy Albelda (UMASS Boston) is that the ladies earlier in the month had met Lee of the T Riders Union, and he asked us what our complaints were about the MBTA and what were some positive changes that we’d like to see at the MBTA.
I recorded the complaints and suggestions and I told Jonathan Davies how angry the ladies of Rosie’s Place were because of the changes that the MBTA higher-ups want to make.

My message to the T was this: it seems to me, and I think of myself as the voice of Rosie’s Place, that people still think that since many of us ladies are homeless that we’re worthless and we don’t do anything productive in life, but just because we are homeless and low-income doesn’t mean that we’re not doing something to change our lives. We take the MBTA to work, school, medical appointments, to see friends and family, to look for jobs, and yet I feel we as a whole don’t get heard when we speak up and for that reason alone, you will be hearing from us again.

I then asked the speakers — mainly I asked Representative Byron Rushing — what can be done about the problem with how the MBTA is planning on hurting the elderly and disabled around the Boston area. Representative Rushing, Darnell Williams and Mimi Ramos stated as a united front that we need to complain more to our state representatives, the governor and our other political leaders about the problems with the MBTA.

In the words of Representative Rushing: “We representatives are elected to listen to you the voters. When we get a large amount of complaints, we talk over what’s being complained about and then we sit down and have a talk with the Governor about solutions for the complaints. The more complaints we get, the more we listen.”

BEATRICE BELL is a writer and vendor for Spare Change News.

Beatrice Bell is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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