Spare Change News
The other day while I was in Brookline I ran into two people with clipboards trying to get signatures against the MBTA’s fare hikes and service cuts.
“It’s already too late,” I said to them. “No, it isn’t,” they protested. “Yes,” I said sadly, “it is.”
And yes, boys and girls, it is too late, despite loud angry protests from me, you, politicians, occupiers, and even some costumed hijackers, the arrogant barons of the MBTA voted to raise fares and implement service cuts on July 1, just in time for Independence Day.
The hikes and cuts are less severe than what was initially proposed (lucky us). Bus fares will go to $1.50 with the Charlie Card, subway $2. The cuts to service were kept to a minimum and we owe all of this to the fact that some extra cash was found (again, lucky us).
However, T passes for both seniors and students went up to $28 and $25 respectively. Commuter rail passes took a large jump from as much as $11 to $64. The Ride climbed from $2 to $4 and up to $5 in some areas.
The point is, what use is it if people protest and it doesn’t make a difference? Already we are hearing from Mass DOT chief Rich Davey that unless the State House can come up with a solution to close the T’s massive budget gap there will be another hike next year and of course we will here and see statewide protests, but the will the results be the same?
So the question becomes what happens next. What should happen is twofold; first, we should put pressure on the politicos in the State House to come up with a way to close the T’s budget deficit so we don’t have to keep paying for it.
The second thing is we need to demand that if we are going to pay these high prices, then how about some quality service? There are still massive delays on the subway, the customer service is still shoddy, escalators and elevators are still in sad shape, and there is a lack of public bathrooms, and the ones that do exist are either locked or very unclean, and of course you still have the most miserable bus drivers I’ve ever seen.
Oh, and reviving the Night Owl service wouldn’t hurt, either.
But all of these demands may be for naught, especially if no one is listening, and even if they are I say again, does it even matter?
The T is not the only example of our voices following on deaf ears. We’ve also seen it nationwide. Union busting, cuts to service programs, and maybe even the new health care law. Has what the people want gone the way of the dinosaur and the eight-track tape? It sure seems that way.
So those poor folks I passed by on the corner with the clipboards seemed to be getting signatures for naught.
JAMES SHEARER is a co-founder and board president of Spare Change News.