Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back on the Train Gang

I'm back! Due to a combination of late nights, work travel and vacation, I haven't ridden the commuter rail in nearly a month. But, I'm back on the train now .... and just in time for the fare increase!

News of the impending MBTA fare hike is all over the media, with a proposed 19.5% overall fare increase. Riders who have a Charlie ticket can expect a 50-cent increase, riders who have a Charlie card can expect their fares to increase by 30 cents. Here are the proposed fare increases by zone for the commuter rail: zone 1-3 will increase by 75 cents per trip and zones 4-8 will increase by $1.00 per trip.

Awesome, my zone 8 monthly pass is going to go from $250 to $280. This is in addition to the fact that I now pay $4 a day to park. It's so frustrating. Even though the sales tax is increasing in order to give the MBTA about $160 million, they're still going to raise fares and reduce service.

Here's what we can expect on the Worcester-Framingham line for service cuts: eliminate weekday service after 7:00 PM, eliminate all weekend trains. Unbelievable. There is no way I can take the train, I do not usually leave work now until 7:30, so I will definitely have to drive. I love how the MBTA wants to eliminate some redundant stations, but have no plans to close any of the Wellesley stops. Really, why does Wellesley need three stops? Isn't even one of those stops redundant?

Needless to say, I might consider van pooling or car pooling now, this totally stinks. Oh, we do have the ability to attend some public hearings to voice our concerns: Monday, August 10 at the State House from 4:00 - 7:00, Tuesday, August 18 in Framingham at the Town Hall from 6:00 - 8:00 PM and Wednesday, August 19 in Worcester at Union Station from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. (There are other times/dates as well).

A PDF "highlighting" all of these changes can be found here.


Richard Cobbe said...

I think you've misinterpreted the booklet that you've linked to in your post. The top of page 9 says "Without a fare increase, the T will have to significantly reduce operating costs by making major service cutbacks." (Emphasis mine.) So it seems that, according to the proposals currently under discussion, you won't get smacked with a fare increase as well as service cuts (or at least, not service cuts as significant as the ones you mention).

I've recently started taking the Worcester line (between Boston and Natick) and I'm not at all thrilled at the cost of my pass going up $30/month. But given the T's dire economic circumstances and the lousy condition of the state's road infrastructure (which directly translates into "no good driving alternative", at least for me), I think the citizens of the commonwealth are going to have to bite the bullet and live with cost increases and service cutbacks for the next several years.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, the potential service cuts would only be applied if a fare increase were not approved.

The state legislature continues to pat themselves on the back, but we know that they failed to pass the gas tax that would have solved many of the MBTA problems. Instead they plugged the T's operations hole for this year only, hoping that the $8,000,000,000 debt would magically disappear.

It used to be that a transit agency could borrow money and count of being reimbursed by the state. But now, not only will you no longer be properly funded, but after a while nobody will lend you any more money. So while it's not pretty, I don't think the T has much of a choice at this point.

Frankly, I would be happy to dramatically increase the cost of my monthly pass if there were subsidies for low-income folks. The rest of us are getting a bargain, but it's tough to see people walking three miles to work because they can't afford the T.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Wellesley having too many stops, I completely agree! And I've complained about it a few times on their feedback page.

It's only 1.2 miles from Wellesley square to Wellesley Hills.

Worse, it's *Less* than 1 mile from Wellesley Hills to Wellesley Farms! I can walk that far in 12 minutes going slow and smelling the flowers on the way.

Train Rider said...

My fault regarding misinformation in the post about fare increases and/or service reductions. I misread and thought that both were inevitable. Hopefully, we get one w/o the other. Frankly, I would take the fare increase if it meant my schedule stayed the same, I really can't afford not to have evening trains.