After Derailments, T Officials Reject Calls To Reverse July Fare Hike

An MBTA Red Line train was derailed just outside of JFK/UMass Station Tuesday morning. (Courtesy Boston Fire Department)
An MBTA Red Line train was derailed just outside of JFK/UMass Station Tuesday morning. (Courtesy Boston Fire Department)

Add Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s name to the list of people calling for the MBTA to hold off on increasing fares until the Red Line is fixed.

With T fares set to go up on July 1 — and derailments in recent weeks on the Red Line and the Green Line — some transportation advocates want the T to at least temporarily reverse the hikes.

“They should roll back the fare increase until they can at least manage to actually meet their on-time standards,” said Evan Foss, of Newton, adding that riders need to see consistent service before they pay more for that service.

"If you can’t maintain that three-minute [wait time] on the Red Line, what business do you have charging more for it?” he asked.

A spokesman for the T said in a statement that fares are vital to investing in the system, and that among the improvements expected over the coming years, the first of 252 Red Line cars will go into service early next year.

Joseph Aiello, chairman of the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board (FMCB), also rejected the rollback.

"The broader fare increase," he said, "I think it's too much of a blunt instrument to roll back at this point, given that we use a lot of those resources to fund maintenance, which is a critical component of keeping the system running as well as it can.”

State transportation chief Stephanie Pollock agreed with Aiello about not revisiting the planned fare hike, but welcomed the idea that T riders be compensated for the interruptions that have plagued the Red Line since the JFK/UMass derailment.

“I think the No. 1 thing we need to do is to get to the point where we can tell people when they’re going to get back to their normal service, and then execute on that,” Pollock said. “But I think it’s completely appropriate to think about a way to show, in a concrete way to the Red Line riders who’ve been inconvenienced, that we appreciate how much they’ve been inconvenienced.”

Walsh also tweeted that he wants the T to add a Boston representative to its oversight board.

The FMCB also proposed at a meeting Monday undertaking an outside review of the system's safety and practices in the wake of last week's derailment.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak told the board he believes a third-party analysis, something advocates have called for, is warranted following two derailments in just four days.

There have also been five derailments this year, not the four the T officials have been citing in recent days.

Board members said they expect to draft plans for that analysis in the coming weeks.

A separate review of all MBTA derailments since the start of 2017, conducted by LTK Engineering, is already underway.

Six days after the Red Line derailment near the JFK/UMass station, the MBTA still has not identified the cause and investigators are looking at whether the 50-year-old car or its wheels replaced in 2014 are to blame, Poftak said Monday.

Poftak told the board that flaws with the track infrastructure, human error and foul play have been ruled out as responsible, but that officials still "do not have any determination for a root cause."

"The investigation is focused on the vehicle itself," he said.

The MBTA will continue to run additional commuter rail trains Monday and Tuesday to supplement Red Line service.

With reporting from WBUR's Simón Rios and State House News Service's Chris Lisinski



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