By Allan-Michael Brown
Boston is commonly referred to as the “Walking City.” Yet despite this quirky dub, thousands of Bostonians are walking to the MBTA T-stops. The “T” is an iconic symbol of Boston and the Massachusetts Bay. Everyone I know in Boston takes the T on a regular basis. The T is perfect for tourists because it allows tourists to travel to the most popular spots without getting lost or dead-ended in the numerous Public Alleys. The Red Line zooms from Braintree all the way to Somerville while the Orange Line swiftly slides on its tracks from Forest Hills to the suburbs through Malden to Oak Grove. The Blue Line takes us from Revere Beach deep into the heart of Boston as the Silver line buses the travelers to Logan Airport. The Green Line charms everyone with its vintage trolley-style, chiming its way from downtown Boston where the baby-boomers parade to the Colleges of the Fenway and Boston University where the college-youth party. Indeed the T definitely links this city and its suburbs together making the city feel smaller when riding yet larger when glancing at an MBTA subway map. However, the T and Bostonians are beginning to have a love-hate relationship.
The MBTA, like everyone on the planet (except maybe Sweden) has been hit hard by this global economic recession. The MBTA has been clobbered with a $160 million deficit. Because of this, the MBTA may be cutting service while simultaneously increasing the fare. The fare may increase by at least 10 percent by autumn (and as high as 20 percent). This has caused uproar among many Bostonians from college students to business executives. This is because the T (which includes buses, trains, and commuter rails) is cheaper and more convenient than driving—and quicker than walking. Service cuts may also be lurking on the autumn horizon. The MBTA may cut service stops on the B, C, and E Green Lines. The E line would be hit most significantly because there would most likely be no more service past Brigham Circle. This means that veterans traveling from the New England Center for Homeless Veterans will no longer have a direct T ride from Government Center to The VA Medical Center on Heath Street. Veterans will have to transfer to the bus from Brigham Circle to ride to Jamaica Plain. There have also been reports that the MBTA will eliminate all weekend commuter rail service and reduce weekday bus service by 50% after 8pm and eliminate 50% of weekend bus service altogether. The cold, harsh truth is that commuters will be paying more for less service.
I’ve been in Boston for almost 4 years and I remember when the T was only $1.25. With fare increases, and less service, college students along with the working class will be hit the hardest. Not only will it be more difficult to commute, it will also be more costly. According to the MBTA’s website, the MBTA plans to “hold public workshops to discuss the proposed changes and solicit direct input from the public.” Apparently, the MBTA is willing to collect input from the public. It appears that these public workshops will be our only moment to voice our concerns and /or outrage. It is unclear where and when these workshops will take place. I sent an email to the MBTA and have yet to hear from them. As soon as I do, the info will be posted.
The economy has hit everyone hard; however there should be no reason why the MBTA is struggling. Why should the consumers pay for bad decisions made by the MBTA? Why should we Bostonians pay more for less? As technology and time advances, why does it seem as though our transportation system is regressing? The transportation system was already flawed; why intentionally flaw it? Cost reduction is not a justification for dwindling our transportation system.
I ride the T nearly every day. As I ride the T from the financial district where I work to Fenway where I study to Jamaica Plain where I sleep, I can only hope the T will reconsider its service changes and fare hikes. If services are cut and if fares are increased, maybe a wonderful walk across the Boston brick sidewalks will be worth more than a trip to the T. If thousands agree with me, perhaps the iconic T will no longer be relevant to any of the walking Bostonians.
Tags: Allan-Michael Brown, bike, Blue Line, Boston, Bostonian, Directory of Boston, fare increases, fed up with T, Green Line, MBTA, MBTA service cuts, MBTA sucks, Orange Line, Photos of Boston T, Red Line, Silver Line, Travel, trolley charm