To the editor:
I write in praise of those protesting the MBTA’s recent fare hikes and proposing improvements to our state’s transit system. From the recent rash of derailments, dysfunction and delays, it's clear that the T is in crisis. These fare hikes only add insult to its riders’ injuries.
Over the last three decades, T riders have endured exponential fare increases. These hikes have especially gouged those who rely on these services the most -- seniors, communities of color, the poor and other marginalized folks.
Yet, these hikes have failed to compensate for Beacon Hill’s austerity and underinvestment over that span, which has resulted in a backlog of maintenance now costing over $10 billion.
Members of our state Legislature must finally admit that their negligence caused this abysmal failure, and they must offer a bold, strategic plan to improve the T’s operations going forward. Instead of relying on exorbitant fares ($22 for a day-trip from my hometown of Haverhill to Boston and back, which doesn’t include the cost of parking) and a tiny sliver of the state’s regressive sales tax to fund the system, they should incentivize ridership by minimizing fares and looking to more equitable sources for revenue.
Those revenue sources could include tax increases on corporate profits, sales of multi-million dollar homes and incomes greater than $1 million dollars (the Fair Share Amendment).
They could also incentivize ridership by fully deploying a cleaner, more modern fleet of trains and subway cars that will provide a more reliable service. A bold, strategic plan would not only increase the frequency and availability of this service but expand it, too: a circumferential transit line that connects the various subway branches (the proposed Urban Ring); another that runs alongside traffic on Route 128; a rail line that connects the eastern and western parts of our state.
Our mass transit system is a vital part of our economy and our clean energy future. Our leaders must remake it into a public good that better serves our needs.