As lawmakers on Beacon Hill deliberate over Gov. Deval Patrick’s 19-cent gas tax increase proposal, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is painting a doomsday public transportation scenario if it doesn’t receive a bailout from the government in the form of this tax.’
Some of the proposed cuts are not unreasonable and should be implemented regardless of whether the gas tax hike is approved. There are far too many unnecessary stops along the Green Line, and it won’t be too much of an inconvenience for riders to walk an extra block to board the T. However, many of the other proposals would be devastating to public transportation in Massachusetts.
The drastic cuts to subway and bus service would be devastating to those who depend on the T to get work and school in Boston. Eliminating weekend subway service on the E line would mean all those who routinely use the E line are going to be overcrowding the bus system, which also stands to be severely cut if the gas tax is not passed. If the MBTA is going to be raising fares, it should only be for the purpose of improving service as opposed to making the T less customer-friendly.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
The proposed cuts to commuter rail are especially harsh. Eliminating commuter rail service on weekends would mean that college students who routinely take the train back to Boston after going back home would now be driving back into the city. New Englanders looking to take a day trip to Boston will now pile into their cars instead, and search for parking spaces that don’t exist. Without weekend rail service, Boston will be plagued with heavier traffic and more pollution ‘- the very things that public transportation is used to avoid.’
It’s ironic that the ones who will be paying the extra gasoline tax are the ones who don’t take advantage of public transportation. If the MBTA is going to demand that taxpayers bail them out, then it needs to make its own difficult concessions ‘- not through more layoffs but by no longer rewarding huge salaries to those who have driven the T into debt.’ ‘
The MBTA may be in dire financial straits but by threatening to raise fares and cut services, college students and residents of Massachusetts are being turned away from public transportation at a time when more people should be encouraged to leave the car at home and make their commute more environmentally-conscious.