Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fare Hikes on the Horizon

Well, the news is not good out of the MBTA. Based on feedback I've been hearing/reading about, it looks like fare hikes will be in the 25-30% range. This is coupled with a decrease in service of up to 50% for weekend and non-peak evening hours.

So, not only can we expect to pay even more (again) for crappy service, but now that crappy service is going to get cut basically in half? It's bad enough that if I miss the 6:15 PM train, everything else is a local and it takes me almost two hours to get home in the evening. Imagine now cutting one or two trips from the evening schedules? So, it's either take the 6:15 PM train or ... wait until 10:05? That is just absurd on so many levels.

Let's look at the numbers, shall we? Currently, a zone 8 one way trip is $7.75. If fares increase by 30%, that trip will now cost $10.08. My monthly pass will go from $250 to $325. This is in addition to the $80 a month I now need to pay to park at an MBTA lot.

These proposed fare hikes come after a year of record ridership levels for the MBTA. So, although more people are riding the train, the MBTA says the price hikes are needed in order to prevent cuts in service, layoffs or other painful alternatives. And we have the $5.2 billion in debt and the T's annual deficit of around $170 million/year to thank for the T's fiscal crisis. And this debt load can be attributed to the costs to the Greenbush line expansion, annual maintenance and pension/retirement programs for the T's union employees.

Transportation is a mess across the Commonwealth. Frankly, we taxpayers are going to bear the brunt of fixing and cleaning up the mess ... and it sucks.


Anonymous said...

OMG this will be like the third hike in the decade, where/when did you read/hear this information?

Anonymous said...

Well, looks like it's time to either consider taking the bus (Peter Pan or Cavalier) or seriously consider moving back to NY. Metro North fares and parking are already cheaper than the commuter rail, and will STILL be cheaper after both entities have their fare hikes. This may offend a lot of New Englanders, but it seems like a lot of decisions made in MA just don't make any sense at all. Not that NY is that much better in this regard, but their end results speak for themselves.

Case in point: NY's MTA's debt is less than the MBTA's, despite processing much more passengers every day. To make up for this deficit, the MBTA increases parking lot rates by 100% and possibly fares by 25-30% within a year. I don't of know any sane viable business that has that kind of markup in such a short span of time. The operative term is viable because such companies do not last for long as customers drop you like a bag of dirt. And don't buy into that garbage about $4 a day being a great deal compared with Boston's $30 a day. This is suburban commuter rail parking, where space is a commodity, and in real estate, location is everything. You will NEVER see a competent real estate management firm charge the same rate for all of their locations and base that rate on one of their "prime" locations. That's like Vornado charging $700 per sq ft for retail space in Springfield, MA and basing that on its rate for retail space in Times Square. But we have no choice as there are very few parking options near commuter rail stations. Tip for you entrepreneurs: find some cheap space available near a commuter rail station, buy it, and convert it into a parking facility. If you can put up with the initial zoning legalities and investment costs, you will have a nice stream of cash for many years.

Speaking of money, how is it possible that the MBTA's cost per passenger is higher than the MTA's? I suppose one could argue about economies of scale. Or financial management. Or lack thereof by the MBTA. But that's the reality and I'll be damned if I'm going to throw money at bad money and hope for good money. I can see why MA is losing more residents (and tax revenue) and I will most likely be one of them. At least the real estate market in NY is better than MA.