Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Globe Editorial On the MBTA's Newfound Popularity

On the heels of yesterday's articles about the rising cost of gas and the increase in ridership across the MBTA, today an editorial about the MBTA was published by The Boston Globe's editorial staff was published.

Essentially the editorial touched about how the MBTA has tried to improve the passenger experience and the fact that the Authority is in a financial pickle. Of course, even with the rising cost of gas, the Globe's editors noted that if passengers do not have a good experiencing using the T, then they will seek other options. Essentially, the state's leadership needs to work with the MBTA to make sure that the transit system functions and doesn't go into debt.

Although the T is publicizing a 6.2% growth in riders for the year, an article in The Salem News focused on how commuter rail riders for some lines is flat or declining on the Newburyport-Rockport line.

Though the T reported an overall 6.2 percent increase in use of all forms of
public transportation, including buses, ferries and subways on weekdays this
year, commuter rail ridership for the most part has remained flat.

The only exception was in February, when commuter trains carried 4,100 more people than in the same month the previous year, according to the MBTA. Despite several requests, the MBTA did not provide specific ridership numbers for the
Newburyport/Rockport line.

So what did the T have to say about the stagnat ridership on some of the North Shore lines?
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said bad publicity may account for the stagnant
commuter rail numbers. Last year, the line was criticized for a summer marked by
many late trains, which turned many people off from rail commuting.

But could there also be another reason?
"Commuter rail tickets are expensive," said Holly Matulewicz of Salem. "It's $10
round-trip and then $2 to ride the T. ... You probably only save a couple
dollars (over driving) because of parking."

Well, maybe if you're heading into Boston from the North Shore, the price to drive is about a break even point. From other destinations on the commuter rail line, the cost of driving is much more expensive. You have to factor in gas, tolls, parking in downtown Boston, etc. Yes, the commuter rail is expensive but so are the alternatives.

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