MBTA fares on all systems except buses go up about 6 percent on Monday. And with recent derailments on the Green Line and Red Line added to the regular ongoing headaches for commuters, many are not happy about the fare hikes.
On Sunday afternoon, near the Park Street T station on the Boston Common, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu led a rally with other elected officials reiterating their opposition to the fare hikes.
"This is the daily stress, delay, frustration, unreliability, that riders will have to pay more for starting tomorrow," Wu said to around 150 people at the rally. "Back in February, to protest the initial introduction of these fare hikes, more than 100 riders came and testified at the governing board. Thousands of riders signed a petition opposing the fare hikes. And after that public pressure, there were some amendments, a few, but important ones — carving out bus riders, shielding them from the fare increase, carving out our seniors and our youth. But the fare hikes should never have been approved in the first place."
On Monday, more than two dozen state and local elected officials, led by Wu, plan to spend the morning commute at stops and on trains protesting the fare hikes.
Wu said with the increased prices, commuters will have to choose “between paying more for lousy T service or sitting in the worst traffic in the country.”
State Rep. Mike Connolly called the fare hikes “nothing short of class warfare.”
“This is an attack on the working class,” Connolly said. “This is an attack on people who rely on public transportation to get to work every morning.”
Connolly said part of the solution is amending the state constitution to raise income taxes on the wealthy. The state legislature gave its approval to a ballot question earlier this month that will let voters decide whether to raise taxes on the state's richest residents. The proposed amendment to the state constitution would impose a new 4 percent surtax on households that earn over $1 million a year. The amendment has to be voted on again by the next session of the legislature before it gets to the ballot in 2022.
Connolly called Gov. Charlie Baker’s commitment to a one-time boost of $50 million to help the MBTA address its long backlog of repairs following the recent Red Line derailment “an immediate first step.”
In January, Baker pledged to spend $8 billion on the T's infrastructure over the next five years.
Connolly said that besides the governor's $50 million allotment, what is especially significant is that House Speaker Robert DeLeo "is committed to having a robust debate on revenue this fall."
"I think there's a real opportunity for us now — particularly because so many people now appreciate the depth of inequality — we can have this debate, and I think it could be a real turning point,” Connolly said.
Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone said to the crowd that raising T prices "is like making us pay for an amusement ride that doesn't work, making us pay for an automobile without wheels, making us pay for spoiled food.
“You would think there would be a sense of shame right up the hill here,” Curtatone said.
After the rally, Wu said 6 percent is “a lot for a lot of people, and the folks who are riding the T are often in communities who don't have any other alternatives.”
“And so when you look at what the T prices have been over the last seven years, we're up 41 percent now since 2012,” Wu said. “People are paying out of pocket to ride the T, so families are having to make some pretty uncomfortable decisions about how to pay for all of that.”