The ink from votes to cut late-night service and raise fares was still wet as MBTA officials began hinting, none too subtly, at more cuts to come.

Citing rising labor and pension costs, senior staff reporting to the MBTA's governor-appointed Fiscal Management Control Board began stressing the need to cut wages, benefits and employees themselves from the T's books.

And in response to ballooning costs of the long-anticipated Green Line Extension project, the FMCB began considering starkly reduced iterations of that project, potentially cutting whole neighborhoods (Union Square, for one) out of the picture and reconsidering the long-anticipated extension of a community path in Somerville.
With decisions expected as soon as a month from now, citizens and interest groups fighting for those projects, and those jobs, are making their cases with increasing urgency and, in some cases, diminishing patience.

Among those who showed up to offer public comment at Monday's Control Board meeting, most spoke about one of two things: The Board's reconsidering of the scope of the Green Line Extension; and its clear interest in privatizing some services currently being carried out by unionized MBTA employees, possibly including fare collection. And while the T has been planning for some time to switch to a cashless fare system, recent reports to the Control Board seem to suggest considering privatizing fare collection duties even before implementing a new system.

Calling scaled-back models for the Green Line extension an "un-design," Medford resident Elizabeth Bayle said that "unfathomable waste ... is still going on through discarding all the work that went before."

"This project needs to be built to a standard we can be proud of today. We need to make up for the accumulating years of lost time and get this project done," Bayle said.

Several people spoke on behalf of the beleaguered Community Path extension, which the Control Board has begun to scrutinize as potentially exceeding expected costs, Friends of the Community Path co-president Lynn Weissman noted that the path, which her group thinks can be built for less than $20 million, "is probably less than the cost of a lot of parking garages that have been built as a part of transit projects."

As for possible outsourcing of union fare collection jobs, at least one of the MBTA's many unions was not happy.

Speaking on behalf of his members, and flanked by some dozen who showed up in support, IBEW Local 103 president Louis Antonellis suggested that outsourcing fare collection while trying to implement a new technology would be costly and potentially harmful to the T, not to mention his members -- and that he saw ulterior motives in the sudden push to privatize those functions.

"We are familiar with technological updates," Antonellis said, recalling the transition to Charlie Cards. "We get it, we don't oppose it ... we embrace [technology] and weave and bob accordingly."

The proposed outsourcing of fare collection, however, "is certainly not about saving money. It's about privatizing and outsourcing at any cost, which flies in the face of the board's mission," Antonellis said.

"You cannot replace hundreds of years of experience with learn-as-you-go technicians."

Control Board members listened, largely without responding. After a brief presentation, members approved a draft capital spending plan -- one which anticipates further cuts to the MBTA's operating budget -- for public comment  
The Board is expected to discuss revised plans for the Green Line Extension on March 9.