Years ago, I was in a copy shop impatiently waiting for the previous customer to wrap up some kind of complicated print and copy job. I watched the minutes ticking by, knowing that I was up against an impending deadline. I needed my stuff now! That’s when I saw the sign posted on the wall. It read, “Failure to plan properly on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Even in the midst of my self-absorbed anxiousness, I recognized the truth of those words and gained a new appreciation for planning.

Would that the powers that be at the MBTA had appreciated planning well before our much-needed transportation system became a financial and operational mess, planning — or the lack of it — was really on display during the recent series of public debates about T fare hikes: Weeks of contentious discussions fueled by customers who said they didn’t want to pay more for bad service and by the MBTA officials who said they couldn’t improve service without more money to repair and rebuild infrastructure. You’ll be forgiven if you think you’ve heard these same arguments before. You have. The future of the T has been a circular conversation through the tenures of many governors and several mayors, and a whole host of state lawmakers. It seems nobody — T officials, urban planners, or lawmakers — have been willing to push through a strategy that would be painful in the moment in exchange for a lot of pain relief down the road. Back in 2013, the legislature overrode Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal for 30-cent a gallon gas tax in favor of a 3-cent tax. Patrick said at the time, “While it is no secret that today’s transportation finance package shortchanges our transportation needs, it still represents a step forward.” Clearly not forward enough. Just two years later, the T literally fell apart buried under massive amounts of snow — so much it broke Boston’s all-time official snowfall record.

Last week, the MBTA board took the next step in the T go-round with a unanimous vote for fare hikes — a moderate increase for subways, a more significant one for commuter trains, although easing the sting a bit with permanent $10 weekend commuter passes. In the face of intense customer feedback, the board decided against raising fares on the buses, the mode of public transportation used by most low-income riders. That decision came with a pledge not to raise fares across the board for the next three years.

It’s unclear how much the new fare hikes will help make a dent in the T debt or provide funds to fix T equipment and improve service. As a regular rider, I’d be delighted with any improvements, but I’m not optimistic about wholesale change unless there is broader — read: statewide — support. I don’t know what it will take for those who don’t support the T to understand that a strong public transportation system is a bottom-line benefit. And not just in Boston Metro, but Worcester and Springfield, too. I’m sorry to say that these latest measures feel like another stopgap, what MBTA board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt described as another in a “cycle of underinvestment in operations.” Like I said, a failure to plan.