It#039;s unfare: rising costs on the T

by Beacon Staff • December 13, 2006

As 2006 turns into 2007, many more Bostonians may choose saving money as a New Year's resolution. This is not so they can have some extra cash to buy groceries or put into savings. It's for the T.,Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and MBTA fare increases.

As 2006 turns into 2007, many more Bostonians may choose saving money as a New Year's resolution. This is not so they can have some extra cash to buy groceries or put into savings. It's for the T.

Effective Jan. 1, the MBTA will restructure its fare collection system.

Riders will now be charged up to $2 ($1.70 for riders using the new CharlieCards) for a journey through those translucent gates.

The MBTA says this fare increase is necessary to ease a troubled budget that is $70 million in the red.

The new monthly LinkPass, which will allow for free bus transfers, costs $59, compared to the old pass, which was $44. It's a great deal for students if one considers the price of the T if a rider takes it twice a day, every day. But for an increase in price, the service should improve.

Should we not get something for our money?

The MBTA has devoted millions to its subway and bus stations. The new fare system is a delightful modernization, despite some occasional problems. And the MBTA is renovating stations on all lines to improve the look and feel of the T.

That's well and good, but it still fails at providing reliable, comfortable service for all riders. This should be the foremost concern of the MBTA, and it's gotten lost in the aesthetic changes.

Commuters should not be charged for improvements made to the skin when they won't fix the guts of the system.

Allston residents, for example, rely on the B branch of the Green Line as a primary connection to the city of Boston. For a moderate fee, it provides shelter, warmth and a way from here to there.

On any given day, however, the journey is punctuated by routine pitfalls. Trains often arrive late, which is unacceptable for commuters trying to get to work or school.

The worst affliction on the T is overcrowding. During peak hours, entering or exiting a train can be a struggle. Some Green Line trains are so packed at night that riders are forced to wait-often for a very long time-for the next one.

Walking is the most viable alternative to the T, but it isn't always practical on a student schedule. It is even less feasible for students who live further from school because of the steep rents in Back Bay, Beacon Hill or campus dormitories.

How many students can devote three or more hours a day to walking? Bikes aren't all-weather and even carpooling is usually out of a student budget because of Boston's exorbitant parking costs.

Public transportation is an infrastructure insurance policy and a necessity for people of all economic backgrounds.

If riders have to pay more for it, the money should go to something the MBTA has apparently not considered: actually improving the ride itself.