T riders out in droves to protest fare hikes

T riders out in droves to protest fare hikes
Date: Saturday, February 11, 2012
Publisher: The Boston Herald
Author: Richard Weir

More than 3,000 ticked-off T riders have attended the 16 public meetings held so far by the MBTA on its proposed fare hikes and deep service cuts, spurring a groundswell of support for prodding Beacon Hill.

Central Square T Station, Cambridge, MA
b a r t / Foter / CC BY

“The numbers speak to the severity of the impact, and the fact that people are not just talking about the problems but also the solutions,” said Lee Matsueda of the T Riders Union. “They’re clamoring and looking to the Legislature and governor to make that happen and implement some solution to make sure public transportation is a priority, and not just shrugged off here.”

The group plans to hold rallies Monday and Tuesday to call on Gov. Deval Patrick to stop the T fare increases and service cuts.

The MBTA said yesterday some 3,051 people have attended its fare hike hearings as of Wednesday, with 928 people speaking. The T this week added six more hearings to its schedule, leaving 14 to go.

T General Manager Jonathan Davis said while the agency did not readily have attendance figures from fare hike hearings in 2006, he said the present turnout is “definitely much larger than” previous years.

“I am very pleased by the turnout,” he said. “I think it shows the need for public transportation.”

But Davis said the outcry will not cause him to rethink the fare hikes and service cuts, or ask Beacon Hill to boost T funding .

“None of this really changes the challenge we face with a $161 million deficit,” he said.

Patrick declined through a spokesman to say whether he would consider bailing out the debt-riddled T.

“The governor believes we need a serious discussion on transportation reform and long-term solutions for our transportation infrastructure, and (the hearings are) just one important step in that process,” said Patrick spokesman Alec Loftus.

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