The People Have Spoken

James Shearer
Spare Change News

Last week there was a rally in front of the Boston Public Library organized by people who are against the MBTA’s service cuts and fare increases, which are scheduled to take place in July.

The rally, which was shortly before one of the many public hearings organized by the T around this issue, and was attended by hundreds, giving voice to an ever-increasing outrage over the T’s inane proposals — which, the more you hear about and read about it, make no sense at all.

Case in point, I attended the February 7th public meeting in Lynn. Again, as has been the case with many of these events, it was standing-room only. Many in attendance were elderly and disabled, those who would be severely affected if the T goes through with this utter nonsense.

One of the buses that would be cut if the service cuts go through in either scenario would be the 436. That particular bus is the only one that goes by Union Hospital, which by the way, boys and girls, is the only local hospital in the Lynn area. Many of the specialty clinics such as Heart, Pulmonary, Diabetes, etc., are located in this hospital. Not to mention the fact that the medical office with many of the hospital’s PCPs (primary care physicians ) is located right next door.

Now if you clip the wings of the 436, how will people get to their appointments? A better question, which was asked, how can you people cut services that help people get to a medical facility?

As per usual the MBTA reps at this meeting were dumbfounded for an answer, so let me answer it for you, sir, they simply don’t care about anything but their own bureaucratic existence, period. How else can they do this?

But I digress. There are other reasons. Our editor said to me a few weeks ago that policymakers always fuss when it comes to fixing roads, tunnels and bridges, but not when it comes to fixing the mass transit system, and he is absolutely right. When the Big Dig project was in full swing, we should have demanded an upgraded infrastructure of the T be included in that, and maybe we could have avoided some of this mess.

Face it, most of the T’s tracks and trains are old and outdated. That’s one reason the service is as bad as it is. Most of its subway stations are still not up to the standards of the American Disabilities Act. Aside from some of its drivers who are downright rude, the buses are somewhat OK, but even that is going to pot, they’re frequently overcrowded and hardly on time, most of the fleet that was new only a short time ago are now old and outdated.

Which accounts for a lot. They either need bigger buses such as the Silver Line type during rush hours, or more trips every 15 minutes, and of course with an ever-increasing ridership the T needs to expand. All this takes money, folks.

Not only should we have spoken up during the Big Dig, the T should have, too. But no one did, the state Legislature sat on its …. err …. hands, and viola!, we get to clean up the mess.

Now don’t think for a minute I’m going soft on them, hardly. Just laying it out. But there are good signs, as I pointed out earlier the people are speaking up, not willing to lie down and take it. Apparently someone is listening, as finally some at the state level are speaking out and willing to hold hearings to address this transportation crisis. This is because the people have spoken.

JAMES SHEARER is a co-founder and board president of Spare Change News.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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