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T Riders, Lawmakers Rail Against Proposed Fare Hikes 04:44
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A one-way trip on the subway could cost $2. Under the MBTA’s plan, bus trips would also increase by 50 cents. Most commuter rail rides would cost $1 more than they do now.

“I am not able to afford a fare increase," said Taisha O'Bryant, chair of the T Riders Union. "I speak for my riders who ride the T every single day."

T riders and state lawmakers Monday night railed against proposed fare increases and service cuts. The MBTA is threatening to raise fares by 20 percent and cut services to address billions in debt.

O'Bryant's group and other transportation activists blasted lawmakers and MBTA managers, even as state officials tried to back away from the controversial fare increase.

“Now the gas tax hasn’t been raised in 17 years, but in the last nine years we’ve had four fare increases for T riders," said Bob Terrell, director for On the Move, a non-profit focused on transportation. "So there’s a serious issue here regarding equity. Why is it that all of this burden is being placed on the 650,000 people who ride the T everyday?”

Actually, if the fare hike happens, this would be the fourth increase in nine years.

The T Riders Union held a press conference to pre-empt the MBTA’s scheduled workshop. The so-called workshop turned into a hearing since the audience was too angry to listen to a power point presentation.

The MBTA could cut services instead of raising fares. Or, it might do both.

“My name is Alice Aragon, and I’d like to address service cuts," said one attendee. "I live in Arlmont Village in Arlington. I take the 78 bus. I take it seven days a week. You plan to or you propose to eliminate it. Due to low ridership, I see 20 people there. That’s not nothing. I do not have a car and I need this bus.”

The MBTA created a pamphlet called “Your Service, Your Choice” that lays out ways of paying off the $8 billion in debt. For example, according to the pamphlet, the MBTA would save a little over $5 million if they stopped offering the commuter rail service after 7 p.m.

Cutting the commuter ferry service that takes people from Boston to Hingham and other places could save another $5 million.

Lawmakers were shocked and angry that MBTA managers are still considering any cuts or a fare hike. Beacon Hill increased the sales tax earlier this summer to help pay for the T.

“I agreed to a sales tax for one purpose," said Rep. Marie St. Fleur. "And that was to give the T the opportunity that it needed — that was what I was led to believe and I want you guys to live up to it."

Listen to these angry riders and lawmakers, and you wonder who would propose raising T fares in the middle of a recession and cut service at the same time?

Apparently, it wasn’t Daniel Grabauskas. He was the T’s general manager until last week. He told news outlets Thursday that a fare increase isn’t necessary to balance the T’s budget and he said that opinion cost him his job.

A spokesman for Transportation Secretary James Aloisi says Grabauskas is “rewriting history.”

Meantime, Gov. Patrick may be retreating from a fare increase. He’s ordered a review of the MBTA’s finances and operations and says he won’t make a decision until he’s seen it, likely in November. The MBTA will hold a dozen more hearings before then.

This program aired on August 11, 2009.

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