[bscb-l] Waltham Testimony
rick.morin at comcast.net
Fri Mar 2 14:40:25 EST 2012
Below is the testimony that Bob Hachey gave on behalf of BSCB last night at
the Waltham MBTA Hearing:
My name is Bob Hachey, and today I am speaking on behalf of the Bay State
Council of the Blind. I am the President of BSCB and a member of the
We, the Bay State Council of the Blind, previously submitted a Position
Paper regarding the two MBTA Proposals. The testimony that follows draws
from this paper.
The MBTA has not given, to our knowledge, any indication that they are
considering submitting a budget that does not contain some amount of service
cuts. To be absolutely clear, any service elimination including redefining
The Ride service area and the corresponding creation of Premium pricing are
socio-economically unsound and we, the Bay State Council of the Blind oppose
Fares, including that for The Ride, must be raised equitably across all
classes of riders and modes of travel. With regard to The Ride, attention
must be refocused to attacking inefficiencies. Our paper makes several
recommendations to reducing cost of The Ride that would yield far greater
financial benefit to the MBTA than manipulating the fare structure. We wish
to work with the MBTA collaboratively to achieve significant reductions in
operating costs of The Ride.
There have been assertions made by the MBTA that the service area of The
Ride is not being reduced under the existing proposals. Instituting a
Premium area concept has the effect of shrinking the service area since the
proposed pricing will make such service unaffordable. The effect will be
devastating to those who rely on the Ride as their only or primary means of
transportation. Differential fares for The Ride based on distance traveled
are a better alternative than the Premium pricing.
After a fare increase, the remaining deficit is more likely to be in the $30
to $50 million range. The MBTA in its next Board meeting must declare that
service cuts are off the table based on public input and enlist the support
of the Board to secure the relatively small amount of remaining funds to
close the gap.
Given the recent reports that the price of gasoline is expected to increase
towards $5 a gallon, it may well be that ridership does not decline after a
July 1 fare increase as the assumptions in the models used to build these
proposals suggest. The result is that revenue in these models may be
considerably underestimated. Let's not forget that ridership increased after
the 2007 fare increase.
Peak period surcharges are a means to maximize fare revenue that has been in
use by other RTA's for decades. We conservatively estimate that a 20 cent
surcharge per peak period trip could generate as much as $ 20 to $ 25
million. We urge the MBTA to consider implementing peak period surcharges.
The crisis at the MBTA is a part of the larger Transportation Infrastructure
crisis in the Commonwealth. It appears that the legislature is resisting
dealing with the Commonwealth-wide transportation crisis now as a matter of
political expediency in an election year. DeLeo and Murray have been quoted
as saying that they are taking a wait and see approach with regards to what
the MBTA comes up with. The transportation problems in the Commonwealth are
structural and systemic and the legislature must act now to address the
broader issues, of which the MBTA issues are a major part.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), a watchdog and planning
organization representing most of the cities and towns in the MBTA service
area which was formed by the legislature in 1963, has laid out a
comprehensive roadmap with several alternatives to raise revenue and manage
debt to resolve the Commonwealth-wide structural financial deficits. The
legislature needs to heed their advice and take action.
The focus at the MBTA must shift from managing debt to managing its state of
good repair. The public has been placed at risk by the under spending of
needed repairs as a means to balance its budget.
Again, our position paper identifies several methods to reduce the operating
expenses at The Ride that would yield significant financial gain and
eliminate the need to restructure the Ride service area and fare structure.
We are happy to email the paper to anyone who provides me their contact
Thank you for this opportunity to testify. It is extremely important that
the MBTA engage in ongoing substantive dialogue with the public throughout
all stages of planning. While we commend the MBTA for the public hearings,
this process should have started much earlier.
rick.morin at comcast.net
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