Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Say it Ain't So . . . "Hefty" MBTA Fare Hikes Likely in 2010

An article in today's Boston Herald reports that MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas said that "hefty" fare hikes are likely in 2010, unless the Legislature takes action to help the debt plagued authority.

Since we're talking about Dan "the PR Man" Grabauskas, the Herald notes they have no idea what "hefty" means in terms of an actual increase in fares.

The T has raised fares between 25 to 27% every three years since 2001.

In a meeting with The Boston Globe's editorial staff, Grabauskas was quoted as saying:
"If you don't want to cut service, it's going to have to be hefty" unless the T finds some new source of money to patch its rising deficits, Daniel A. Grabauskas, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said in a meeting with Globe editors, responding to questions about the possibility of a fare hike.

The Globe also noted that Dan could not define "hefty."

"The next fare increase, I don't know what that number would have to be, but it would have to be pretty substantial," Grabauskas said. A 25 percent increase would mean it would cost $2.50 to ride the subway and almost $1.90 to catch a bus.

Grabauskas spelled out two other alternatives: cuts in service, such as dropping bus routes or running trains less frequently, or state assistance with the agency's $8.2 billion in debt and interest payments.

Public transit advocacy groups are against the fare hikes.

Seriously - why can't the T at least manage within its budget? Did they really need to roll out WiFi? Do they need to have 65 odd vehicles for employees to commute to and from work?

"I don't think the T's problems are a great secret here," said Representative Joseph F. Wagner, a Chicopee Democrat who chairs the House's transportation committee. "It's going to require a lot of things. Fares may be part of a solution to a larger problem or set of problems. There are limits to what you can do with fares."

The Globe article noted that the T's fares are in line with the fares of other major transit systems in the US, including Chicago and Philadelphia.

In other news, today's Telegram & Gazette reports on the increase of parking fares at parking lots near Union Station. Effective yesterday, the two surface commuter lots parking rates doubled from $1.00 to $2.00. Commuters are not happy.

The article noted that the city of Worcester publicized the fare hike by leaving fliers on vehicles parked in the lots in June and again last week. The increase brings the Worcester lots in line with parking rates at the other MBTA stations.

Parking rates were increased because Worcester needs the revenue to make improvements to the outdoor lots.

Additionally, the city would like to see more commuters park in the new Union Station garage. A monthly pass brings daily parking at the Union Station garage in line with the $2.00 rate at the surface lots. It is hoped that once road work is completed on Grafton Street, enabling easy access, more people will park in the new garage. The garage sounds like it will be nice for the winter.


Anonymous said...

This is sad. The MBTA is basically now going to blackmail the state into alleviating some of its debt by saying that demand for service is up and ridership has increased month to month.

The MBTA will show its increased ridership statistics and talk about its interesting perks like WiFi (when really, I think the high rider counts are a direct correlation to the price of gas).

The MBTA will whine and moan (actually, they already do this) that in order to continue providing this level of "service" that they need either to increase fares (thus making it more difficult for the average rider to ride public transportation) or as an alternative, have the state assume their debt load.

The gall! Unbelievable.

Oh, did I mention that my pass wasn't collected on the train last night, even though the conductors were making their announcements about buying tickets before you get on the train (yeah, whatever happened to that fabulous program)?

You know, in some small, miniscule way, I can see the point about the money, but really, when trains are so inconsistent and buses bunch up because they're not scheduled properly ... how can we bail out an agency that can't provide a minimum level of service?

Kidney Stones said...

This is absolutely absurd. Commuters are being penalized for the T's inability to properly manage its own budget. If my monthly pass (already steep at $250) increases 27%, that brings it to a whopping $317 a month. I would without question stop riding the train if this happens. They can lose my $3,000 per year. Grabauskas is to "effective management" what Hugh Hefner is to "healthy urethra."

Honestly, has anyone ever been more inept?

AJ said...

The comments I had in mind merely echo the previous 2 sentiments. I REALLY wish my business could get away with providing sub-par service consistently, make shady and risky investments without my bosses approval, and then penalize the faithful who depend upon my product for my indiscressions.

There is no way out of this situation. Their solution is to ask the State for help? The State who can't properly regulate a toll road which was supposed to pay for itself how many years ago and also has similar debt problems?


Train Rider said...

I totally agree with AJ. If I promised a certain level of service with my company's product, then failed to deliver and used another group as a scapegoat AND then whined to my parent corporatation that I can't afford to do anythign until they give me more money .... I would have been FIRED a long time ago.