MBTA Riders Disrupt Budget Debate
By Jordan Weinstein
April 24, 2012
BOSTON — A group of older and disabled public transportation riders interrupted the budget deliberations of the Massachusetts House Tuesday afternoon, leading court officers to close down the public's access to the House chambers.
Some using wheelchairs and walkers, the riders said they were upset with increases in the cost for The Ride (the service for disabled and elderly passengers in the Boston area) and a similar service in the western part of the state. Carolyn Villers, executive director for Massachusetts Senior Action Council, which organized the demonstration, said the hike in the cost of The Ride is unfair to those who can least afford it.
“For many who depend on this service, that’s going to be unaffordable," she said. "What it means is that they won’t be able to access transportation to get to many of the medical appointments that they have, other commitments, work, school, family and community.”
The MBTA's board of directors approved a series of fare increases on April 4 that doubled the cost of The Ride service from $2 to $4 one-way for most riders.
What You Said ...
In a response to our online "how I'd fix the T" survey, rider Dodie Catlett of Boston weighed in on MBTA service for seniors:
I'm 81 years old and independent. Until otherwise, I won't use The Ride. However, I will find an increase in senior fares a problem. Also, a small point: it would be ever so welcome if motor persons would make announcements from time-to-time to the effect that offering seats to seniors would be appreciated. Young people should be encouraged to do so. Thank you.
WGBH NEWS FOCUS: THE MBTA
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About WGBH News Focus: The MBTALove it, like it or lump it, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority touches nearly everyone's lives in eastern Mass. And it's in financial crisis, with newly announced fare hikes not enough to cover next year's projected $100 million budget deficit. WGBH News features special focus coverage of the tracks and troubles of our public transit system.
Jordan Weinstein is a news anchor for NPR's All Things Considered on WGBH, 89.7 FM in Boston.
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The Fare and Service Plan
On July 1, the T will introduce fare increases and service cuts to cover a $159 million budget gap for the next fiscal year. Read the plan on mbta.com.
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