T threatens to raise fares, cut service

by Beacon Staff • April 22, 2009

,The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is threatening to raise fares, eliminate Green Line stops and slash weekend and nighttime service if the Massachusetts legislature doesn't help it pay back its debt-load of $160 million, according to media reports.

The exact cuts have not been decided upon yet, the MBTA's press office said, but according to reports published by iThe Boston Globe/i, the MBTA is considering eliminating E Line beyond Brigham Circle and closing the Boston University East and West stops on the B Line. The T may also halve weekend and nighttime service, cut commuter rail service after 7 p.m. and eliminate lesser used bus stops. The proposed moves would reduce T ridership by 52 million annually.

Last month, iThe Patriot Ledger/i of Quincy reported that a possible 25 to 30 percent fare hike for all MBTA services is being considered. A ride on the T that used to cost Charlie Card holders $1.70 could be bumped up to $2.13.

Though the raise may seem insignificant, at over a dollar more per round-trip, the cost will add up fast. The increase is even more dramatic for monthly pass holders; under the MBTA's new plan, each pass will cost $74, up from $59.

On Beacon Hill, there are two proposals to help stabilize the MBTA's finances: raising the gas tax and raising toll fares on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Students for whom the T is the only mode of transportation said service cuts could be disastrous, while others said eliminating stops on the B Line would be a welcome change.

"For someone who lives past Brigham Circle, having to take the C or D line would have a devastating effect on the commute," said Dan Lance, a senior film major. "As far as all the cuts go, cutting jobs, which is what will end up happening, has never been the solution."

Junior Jessika Hazelton thinks cutting the E line will cause problems for students going to Mission Hill for parties on the weekends, and have a negative effect on the neighborhood.

"A lot of people who live in Mission Hill work on the weekends, and if this service is cut, I think people will be less willing to live there, which is sad because Mission Hill is becoming a really nice neighborhood," said the writing, literature and publishing major. "That change would just make it backtrack."

When informed of the potential fare increase, several Emerson students interviewed reacted with resignation. Ryan Douglass, a sophomore writing, literature and publishing major who lives in Cambridge, said he believes everyday commuters will cough up the extra cash.

"As much as I don't like the fare hike, there's not much I can do," he said. "It's a necessity for me; I'm not going to start riding a bike around in January."

Several students who take the Green Line's B train said riders may benefit from cutting stops.. If the MBTA cuts Boston University East and Boston University West stops, as well as the St. Paul Street stop, as has been reported, service on the notoriously slow line could pick up.

Students like sophomore Ali Lydon, said they don't feel those stops are necessary.

"I just really want no BU East or BU West stop. People can walk between those stops easily," the writing, literature and publishing major said. "There's nothing worse than seeing a kid get on at BU East and take it to BU Central."

Junior Hayley Adams lives near the Harvard Avenue stop on the B Line and believes the cuts will be a positive change for Green Line riders.

"The B Line has the most frequent stops, and I think it's more inconvenient for commuters who have to use that line every day when it stops every two blocks," the visual and media arts major said.

One BU student agreed that cuts need to be made, but careful consideration needs to be taken as to what stops get the axe.

"There are six stops on the BU campus on the B Line, and I would say if you had to get rid of some, to get rid of BU Central," said Kelley Nunn, a freshman at BU. She also said many students use the BU East and West stops to get to class.

"I agree that they should make some cuts.there are too many stops, maybe they should run more express trains. They need to cut the right stops, though."

In addition to the service cuts on the T, commuter rail service will no longer run on the weekends. Commuter students, as well as those who have family nearby, worry that this decision will be prohibitive. Freshman Amanda White routinely takes the commuter rail to New Bedford to visit her family. If the MBTA's new plan is put into effect, she would have to go home on Friday afternoons and return on Monday morning.

"That's stupid. I'm not taking the [...] bus," said White, a communication disorders major. "Those things crash."

Paul Davenport, a commuter student from Stoughton, was equally dismayed, and said he hopes the legislature passes the gas tax hike instead.

"That is completely adding to the problem they already have," the freshman print journalism major said. "There isn't enough service anyway. I know the MBTA is having money problems, but this change isn't going to help anyone."

The MBTA press office declined to comment on the changes until a definite plan has been laid out.