So Boston.com says that the T wants input from the public about the proposed fare increases. Seeing as I’m a daily user of the T, I decided to add my two cents:
I ride the T every day. Up until this summer, my experience involved taking the Red Line two stops to work or into the city, as well as the occasional bus through Somerville. Now. I live in Everett, and I would like to continue living car free (even though I finally have off-street parking). It takes two buses to get to work. My house is five miles from my job, but now it takes me anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to get to and from work, and that’s mostly due to traffic and because the routes are poorly timed. In the mornings, I wait in Everett Square where the two buses I take to Sullivan (104/109) arrive at the stop within minutes of each other almost every day. At Sullivan, where I catch a bus to either Harvard or Central Squares (I work between the two), sometimes the next 91 or 86 is more than 30 minutes away even during rush hour. Coming home takes me up to an hour and a half. I’ve gotten to the station to find a massive crowd that’s been waiting upwards of 20 minutes. When the 104 or 109 arrives, I’ve seen drivers leave people behind (luckily, rather than having the two schedules spaced out more equally, the routes are timed so closely that the other bus will be along in a minute or two, and a new group can wait 20+ minutes).
I do not support a 10% fare increase because I think it will drive more people to take their cars (if they have them), making my daily commute even longer as traffic worsens. Please try to find some way to raise fares only 5% (it’s more in line with the average cost of living raise most of your riders got from their jobs, if they were lucky).
How can you make more money? Fire the employees who are not performing well, staff your stations efficiently (I tried to return a phone someone left on the Orange Line train the other day and couldn’t find an employee to give it to), and demand that upper management take a pay cut. Crack down on fare jumpers, fix your broken pass readers (can’t tell you how many times the driver has waved me by because he/she’s either running behind schedule or the machine’s broken), cover the stations and buses in advertising if you have to, and look into making your bus schedule more efficient (don’t even get me started on your useless Sunday schedule ). I’m an involved rider and I care about the future of the MBTA; I want you guys to succeed. To that end, I have contributed to the Everett Transit Planning Study and am monitoring the Silver Line extension to Chelsea, and until it made Davis Square and Medford unaffordable, I was 100% behind the Green Line Extension (I really still am, but that price tag…ouch). I in turn will do my part, continuing to vote for representatives who will work with the T instead of trying to dismantle it.
I complain, but the truth is, I’m lucky. I can afford a 10% fare hike if I have to, because I make okay money and was able to buy a home and live a lifestyle that is within my means, but I am surrounded by neighbors who will struggle to handle such a large increase. Please consider your customers and remember the value of public transportation. You are the reason traffic here isn’t a millions times worse. We are lucky to have you, and we need to support you. But you gotta meet us halfway.
I then got to the next page, where they asked if I would continue to buy my monthly T pass if the price went up 10-12%, to which I replied:
You know, when you ask: “If prices go up 10%, will you keep riding the T,” it says to me that you know how many of us are trapped.
I made a conscious decision when I moved to Boston not to own a car here. Believe me, I miss the freedom of my own vehicle (and Uber/Zipcar don’t always make up for this sacrifice), but when I arrived more than 10 years ago, I succumbed whole-heartedly to the MBTA. I collected your colorful passes (which were less than $60 at the time) that I would wave at the Green Line conductor to show him I had the current one, and I still have a token or two that I kept as mementos. However, in the last few months of living away from the Red Line I’ve seen my use of Uber go up significantly because you do not serve my new community especially well.
When I get out of a show or leave a friend’s house, the prospect of waiting 90 minutes before I walk through my front door is way less appealing than a $12 car ride with an entertaining stranger. That’s okay with me for the most part; sacrificing a short walk to the subway is the price I pay for the luxury of finally owning a home in a neighborhood where I can afford it. But damn it, again I am confronted by the reality that while I can casually pull up an app and have someone drive me home in a matter of minutes you serve a community that suffers every time they have to stand and wait 30+minutes for the next bus, in the rain, in the snow, surrounded by all the other riders who are just as tired, cranky and impatient to be home.
I can manage that 10-12% increase in a monthly pass because it’s still nice to be able to sit back with my book and headphones and let somebody else take me to work or into the city. I will continue to use the T enough on weekdays alone that a monthly pass is still the most economical choice for me (hello four buses/day to get to/from work). However, your crappy Sunday bus schedule and the fact that Zipcar really hasn’t placed nearly enough cars around me as I used to have access to in Davis Square (despite the fact that we learned Everett has a very high percentage of people who don’t own cars) has made me more open to the idea of buying a used car to drive on the weekends.
And why not? I now have a parking spot, gas is cheap (for now), and because you’ve allowed me to see so many places via bus, subway, or commuter rail, I might as well have a car so I can join the Trustees of Reservations and spend more time in nature where you can’t easily take me.
Despite my complaints, I am proud to use the T. It has made me a more fit person, because I walk a minimum of 2 miles per day to get to said buses, and I’ve been able to read way more books during my commute because it takes longer to get places. I love the T. You guys made this city way more accessible to me and allowed me to save money by not paying for gas, parking or insurance since 2004. When I was struggling to get my first job out of school, this was a lifesaver during those first few months I couldn’t find work and was living off my savings.
I’m your loyal customer and I will continue to be one no matter how bad you get, but the more you raise fares, the more you cut service, the less I can defend you when the politicians come for your heads, looking to fire your staff and cancel your projects. Be reasonable. Compromise. Ask for a bit less from your riders, and make a few more of your own sacrifices. The only way you can get better is if we support you, so the T can grow, serve more people, and provide better and more efficient cars, trains, and stations.