The MBTA is raising fares...again. This time, the proposed hike is 20% which , if you have a Charlie Card, figures out to be 34 cents per subway ride. If you take the train to and from work for 5 days a week, like most people, that's an addition $3.40 each week. Public hearings on the fare increase began this week. I plan to attend and, guess what? I won't be siding with the MBTA on this one.
The thing is...it's really not fair. (This isn't video so you'll just have to imagine me stamping my foot while saying that.) I don't have statistics but I'm guessing the median income of the average T rider is significantly lower than those who drive into Boston all by themselves in their gas-guzzling SUVs. AND, those drivers are already getting breaks all over the place. Gas prices have gone down--for the time being anyway (insert evil laugh here BOOOOHAAAA)--so visits to the pump aren't constant reminders of how much they're ruining the environment. The Federal government has twice funded its Cash for Clunkers program, where the more well-off and recession proof drivers can afford to buy a new car are actually rewarded with cash money for the previous, environmentally irresponsible purchase.
The auto industry has been bailed out to the tune of $15 Billion for failing in their mission to manufacture and sell cars that burn fossil fuels. I think we would have all been better off doling out that money to the Detroit factory workers, waiters, and other people who would have suffered if the auto manufacturers would have gone out of business. Reward them for their hard work and retrain them to support an industry that would survive in our current economy.
But I digress. Back to those of us who ride public transportation in Boston.
I might not mind about paying 20% more for a bus or train ride, if I was going to get 20% more in service. Perhaps the drivers who navigate my ride on the "high-speed trolley" from Ashmont to Mattapan Square could slam on the brakes 20% fewer times for each ride. I'd pay for that. Will the increase mean that there's a decrease in accidents? What about train delays? Will I no longer have to leave a 30-minute cushion to ensure that I make it to my doctor's appointments on time?
How much money was spent on the "Big Dig" not counting all the corruption that's uncovered each week so we could fit still more cars on the expressway and so all the solo drivers wouldn't have to sit in traffic? But by all means, raise the price of getting to work for all of us who opt out of the rush hour gridlock or don't have enough money to afford a car.
Regular T and bus riders--whether or not they are completely car-less-- share their commute with hundreds of other people and put even Prius drivers to shame in terms of reducing our carbon footprints. So why shouldn't we be rewarded for this environmentally responsible behavior instead of being penalized? Did you ever hear about a bus rider killing someone while drunk driving? It can't happen, because we aren't driving and I'm pretty sure alcohol consumption is frowned upon while riding the bus. You don't see talk shows covering the issue of Public Transportation Rage.
I'll say it again. The proposed MBTA fare hike is NO FAIR. Where's our stimulus package?