Jan. 17, 2012
BOSTON -- Even the most seasoned T rider has probably never heard of the Mattapan High Speed line: the old orange-and-tan above-ground trolley that connects Mattapan to Ashmont Station in Dorchester, which in turn connects to the rest of Boston.
Since it’s one of the lesser-used lines in the city, the MBTA is considering cutting its weekend service — a savings of $1.5 million a year. But for riders like Tasheaka Buchanan, the cut means one thing: being stranded.
“Everybody that’s in Mattapan Station, [it's] going to be hard for them to get from work or from school,” she said.
The cut would be part of a bigger package of fare hikes and service cuts, all meant to help alleviate the T’s anticipated $161 million deficit for the coming fiscal year. Two scenarios have been proposed. The first raises fares 43 percent with fewer service cuts; the second hikes fares 35 percent, but would completely eliminate 101 bus routes.
“They’re regions where if you can’t take the buses, it’s not necessarily easy to walk, regardless of what the weather is,” said transportation advocate Rafael Mares. “There will be many medical appointments people won’t be able to go to. They won’t be able to work. I mean, it’s drastic.”
Mares is the spokesman for Transportation for Massachusetts, a group dedicated to the preservation and improvement of transportation in the state. He said both scenarios are a band-aid approach to a much bigger problem.
“It’s aiming at closing the operating budget for one year. It’s not clear that it’s solving that problem. It doesn’t address the underfunding of our transportation system as a whole. It’s not just the T that’s underfunded — it's roads, bridges as well that need more money,” said Mares.
Plus, he added, minorities use buses more, meaning they’ll be most affected by the cuts.
That includes people like Teddy Washington, who uses the 441 bus to visit his kids in Lynn.
“I take the 441 to go to Lynn and if they stop it’s going to be trouble. Hopefully they don’t,” he said. “That’s a long distance to walk to Lynn from here.”
Buses and subway service aren’t the only things on the chopping block. Both plans also call for completely eliminating ferry service and dropping weekend and late-night service on commuter rail.
Eileen Hutchins said she’d be willing to pay more to keep those services running.
“I hope if they raise the fares they could maybe not cut the service, especially on the weekends. Continual services is probably really important,” she said.
The T board will make the final call on increases and service cuts, but before they make a decision, the public will have their say at 20 public hearings. The first two are Jan. 17: from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Newton City Hall and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Worcester Public Library. See the full calendar.
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