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Slow Ride: The MBTA And The Search For A Budget Fix

(Courtesy: B Tal/Flickr)

(Courtesy: B Tal/Flickr)

OK. So by now, you’ve probably heard the headlines. The MBTA has proposed raising fares. By a lot. More than 40 percent under one scenario.

So a light rail ride that now costs you $1.70 on your CharlieCard, could jump to $2.40. A bus ride could rise from $1.25 to $1.75.

To be honest, I’m a frequent T rider, so the thought of paying $2.40 for a trip from Kenmore to Harvard Squares just hurts. But then, the T’s also proposing slashing dozens of bus routes and severely curtailing commuter rail service.

To be fair, none of this is set in stone. It’s also the first time the MBTA has proposed raising fares in five years. Plus, the T is legally obligated to do something to bridge its $161 million budget gap.

In other words, as Richard Davey, secretary of transportation says, to keep public transit viable, the MBTA must do something.

“We expect to get some feedback, certainly, from our customers,” Davey told reporters earlier this week. “Hopefully some ideas that we haven’t thought of. We don’t have all the solutions, certainly. And we look forward to hearing that.”

Well, OK! We’ve decided to take up Secretary Davey’s challenge. We’re going to do some outside-the-box big thinking about public transit in Massachusetts, and look beyond raising fares and slashing service, to see what creative solutions are out there that can keep the trains and buses running, and even improve service.

Guests:

  • Lee Matsueda, program director, T Riders Union at the advocacy group Alternatives for Community and Environment
  • Yonah Freemark, contributor to the Atlantic Magazine and author of the transportation policy blog, The Transport Politic

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