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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Sublimity of Failure

The Sublimity of Failure
The Sublimity of Failure

In 1631, public transportation began in Boston with a ferry service from Chelsea. Our city has been a transportation trailblazer, embracing the electric streetcars and building America’s first subway. At first, public transportation was a for-profit industry. Caps were put on transportation costs, which drove businesses into bankruptcy. As a result, the Commonwealth took the reins with the Public Control Act of 1918 and instituted 5 public trustees to run the rails, keep transit affordable, and protect the remaining stockholders from loss.

In 1947, all private interest was finally dissolved into the Metropolitan Transit Authority. From that point on, the state has been in charge. In 1964 the MBTA as we know it came into action and between 1965 and now has received over three billion federal dollars. It is now funded through a mixture of federal and state spending and fare collection.

Before 2000, the MBTA was not required to adhere to a budget. The state covered all additional costs and the MBTA was able to meet its needs without a debt risk. The Forward Funding Act of 2000, initially proposed by Rep. Paul Haley, argued that citizens who live outside the metropolitan area should not have to support a system that they hardly use.

The act changed how the T was funded. After this point the money came directly from 20% of the sales tax revenue with a guaranteed three percent increase (supplemented by the state when necessary) per year. This would be adequate if the legislature did not continue to hold the T to expansion plans formed before the bill. In contrast to Haley’s original goals, the MBTA’s largest current expansion is the 252 million Greenbush commuter rail line. This will help transport the currently underserved vehicle commuters on the South Shore- you know, the ones who “don’t use the T and don’t want to pay for it”.

MassPIRG just released a study about how the T is going downhill as radically increasing fares (to cover debt) discourage people from using the service. I do not feel that expansion pushed through by the legislature should be paid for solely by the riders. If Massachusetts intends to become a shining example of green development then this is certainly not the time to skimp on public transit funding. Nobody is flush with money these days, and hiking T fares in a manner completely disproportionate to inflation is a slap in the face to all its citizens. The solution has to be shared by all of us, and this includes the state sucking up this debt. 27 percent of the T’s budget goes to paying off this debt, and that money is sorely needed for other uses.

We just had a big fare hike! Personally my T pass doubled- and MassPIRG’s report estimates that it will hike another 21 dollars! Boston is already one of the priciest cities in the nation and hiking transit is not going to encourage more urbanites to move here.

Why is it that the legislature is having its way and the needs of the riders being ignored? Are they not there to serve us? Rumor has it that Governor Patrick is looking at an intensive overhaul of the entire Massachusetts transit system. We need to organize and lobby so that we can be sure our needs are represented as crucial decisions are being made.

On that note, we need to demand the dissolution of the secret deal between the late night cabbies and the T. I am done with walking in the dark on cold Boston nights because I can’t afford the 40 dollars to get home and from what I hear, everyone else is sick of it too. We need to unite as transit riders into our own union, as apparently that is the only way our needs are going to be respected.