Thursday, November 13, 2008

Commuters Still Upset Over Increased Parking Fees

We've known that the new parking fees will be going into effect this Saturday. That doesn't mean this is a dead story. Regional editions of The Boston Globe printed three separate stories today about the increased parking fees. Heck, even this blog got a mention in one of the articles!

"Grumbles greet hike in T lot fee" focused on commuters using the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line. Commuters are frustrated that the parking costs are rising, especially since some lots do not have enough spaces and other lots leave a lot to be desired from a maintenance perspective. On top of that, the service and experience riding the commuter rail trains leaves a lot to be desired.

Towns along the commuter rail line are fielding calls from citizens who are frustrated at yet another increase to the cost of their daily life. For commuters who take the train from Framingham, consider using the town owned parking garage near the commuter rail station. You can purchase monthly passes that are less expensive than the daily MBTA parking rates.

The T answers with their same canned response. Frankly, I just do not think they get it. If they got it, they would say "no perks for us - no cars, no lunches, nothing outside of our salaries and our operating budgets." But I think the T works in Fantasy Land and the rest of us are stuck working in Reality World.
Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an e-mail that commuter-rail parking rates have been unchanged for six years, that the median cost of parking in downtown Boston is $33, and that the agency had to find a way to cover part of the money it owes workers who were recently awarded $53 million in back pay, among other funding needs. Already shackled by $8 billion in debt, Pesaturo said, the transit agency can't borrow its way out of the situation, and has to raise the money from other sources.

"The decision to ask customers to pay more for parking was very difficult," Pesaturo stated. "The MBTA . . . has been left with the unenviable choice of seeking fee increases or reducing services."

The "Commuters balk at T parking rate increases" spoke to commuters along the Fitchburg, Haverhill and Lowell lines. In this article, Joe Pesaturo said the T is "facing its most daunting challenge" in 9 years. Hey Joe - why do you still cater your board meeting lunches? Why aren't fares collected? Why does the T just list excuse after excuse after excuse. Be honest - parking rates aren't going to help the lots be maintained, this is extra money to cover your losses.

I think we're all angry. Over the past 2 months we've seen a lot of institutions ask for bailouts. T riders are now bailing out the MBTA by handing over more money to park. A 100% increase is drastic.

Finally, "Maine balks at the cost of bridge repair" takes the Northern New England point of view on the parking rate increase.

Even Suffolk University's The Suffolk Journal wrote an article about how the increase in parking fees will affect students, faculty and staff.

In an Op-Ed piece also from today's Globe, the Governor outlines how he'll change mass transit and transportation here in the Commonwealth. Governor Patrick cuts right to heart of one of the issues that plagues both the T and the Mass Pike: patronage. These authorities were notorious bastions of places where politicians could get jobs for their supporters. Perhaps that wasn't the best way to run two very important state agencies. The Governor also said our transportation system is "broken" from an infrastructure standpoint. He is proposing some drastic steps to realign transportation in Massachusetts:

  1. Consolidation of agencies.
  2. System-wide planning and financing of transportation needs.
The first step will be the elimination of the Mass Pike. Within two years tolls on the Pike west of Route 128 will be removed. Massachusetts will explore advanced toll collection technologies. The Big Dig Debt will be restructured.

In a counter-point article, The Boston Herald's editorial staff doesn't think the Governor's proposal will work.

For customer service news, Fox 25 ran this report on Monday about how people are really unhappy riding the MBTA/MBCR commuter rail. "Late trains, unresponsive customer service, bad signage, poor infrastructure, and increased fees" are just a few of the things people don't like about relying on the commuter rail. They even showed the fare boxes that people use to pay for their parking. Fox 25 report Jim Armstrong has a blog where you can read the transcript of Monday's report and see viewer's comments.

Finally, blogger innismir wrote a post that captured just how dysfunctional the T really is. At innismir's parking lot, the T actually had two different signs explaining the parking rate increase. innisimr took some photos, so you can see for yourself. This made my blood boil. I've worked in corporate communications. You are supposed to proof things before you send them to the printer. In this economy, the T doesn't have any more money to waste. Dan and Joe - how much did the misprinted signs cost us?

Good grief!


Anonymous said... has a realistic view of Channel 4's ridiculous story on some cold cuts.

Greenliner said...

The Green Line lot on the Newton/Brookline line is going from $3.50 to $5.50. This is after parking meters in Brookline doubled this past year. I would be happy to walk the 1 1/4 miles from my house to the Green Line, but my daughter has to get to school by 7:30, and it's tough enough for her to get out of the house that early. The closest bus is .7 miles away and runs infrequently. So poor tranist service necessitates driving and parking at significant daily expense. Oh, and the lot fills up by 7:15 a.m.