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MBTA Chooses Neither Scenario; MAPC Issues Warning

The official public comment period on the proposed fare hikes and service cuts ended last night, but the Metropolitan Area Planning Council still has a point to make.

After months of debate over the for cutting services and raising fares to meet their projected $161 million budget deficit, the period of public comment ended last night at the MBTA's final public hearing, held at a senior center in Brighton.

In a Boston Globe article on the meeting, MBTA GM Jonathan Davis explained how they were going to move forward.  According to him and the Globe, "neither of the two previously released scenarios will be selected by the agency’s board," but, "Instead, the committee that drafted those two proposals will take testimony from all of the hearings’ speakers and feedback from more than 5,600 e-mails and draft new recommendations."

The decision comes with little surprise. Following a meeting in Medford in February, Davis said

“When we came out with the two proposals we didn’t expect either one would be implemented in its entirety,” Davis said at the time.

The first scenario would've staved off the most severe service cuts, but require steeper fare increases. Under this scenario, bus 136 would eliminate Saturday and Sunday routes, while bus 137 would eliminate Sunday routes. Both buses have stops in Melrose.

The second scenario would've had less severe fare increases, but deeper cuts in service. Under this scenario, the five bus routes that have stops in Melrose—106, 131, 132, 136 and 137—would all be eliminated.

Both scenarios called for eliminating commuter rail service on weekends, along with commuter rail service on weeknights after 10 p.m.

The MBTA board's monthly meeting is April 4, and, also per the Globe, "Davis said he hopes those recommendations will be submitted by [then]."

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, or MAPC, has some recommendations of their own.  In a report released today and quoted on Universal Hub, they say,"Living in a health care hub, we often think of health as something that happens in a doctor's office. But this report highlights that the region's most important resources for health aren't limited to our world-class hospitals and doctors. MBTA service prevents accidents, reduces air pollution, and helps residents fit physical activity into their daily lives."

However, the MBTA's own environmental impact study on the effects of either Scenario 1 or Scenario 2, released January 3rd, didn't try to present the service cuts or fare increases as a boon to the environment or communities.  

As they say in that report, "the highway congestion and air quality metrics show a greater negative impact on EJ communities compared to non-EJ communities, a further exacerbation of the difference in local congestion and air quality that already exists" (the MBTA determines it's "EJ" or "Environmental Justice" communities based on local poverty levels and/or an above-statistical-averages percentage of people of color in a given area). 

robert wilson March 13, 2012 at 05:50 PM
The meetings are a waste of time, the T has an agenda and was never going to listen to the towns from the very beginning.
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) March 13, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I wrote in the comments on the last article: "I have to be honest, I'm wondering: Are they seriously considering eliminating all those bus routes? Or are they putting it out there so when they have to raise fares even higher under scenario 1, they can point to scenario 2 and say, "Well, look at the alternative!"" Now they're saying they're not going to consider either proposal, though. So Robert, if they're throwing out both scenarios, do you think that means they listened to the people who attended those meetings?
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) March 13, 2012 at 07:48 PM
The MBTA has released an open letter from MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey and MBTA Acting General Manager Jonathan Davis. It's available here: http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/news_events/?id=24023&month=&year= ... here are some key outtakes: "Since January, nearly 6,000 of you attended our 31 public meetings, with nearly 2,000 individuals offering public comment. In addition, we received 5,850 emails from you about the importance of the MBTA in your lives. By comparison, the last time the MBTA raised fares in 2007 just 800 people attended a public hearing." "Before our April 4th Board Meeting, we will lay out our final recommendation for closing the Fiscal Year 2013 gap. We continue to work on identifying prudent one-time revenues that will allow us to stave off some of the proposed service cuts for one year. Our final proposal will include both cuts and a fare increase, however." "Unfortunately, without a new dedicated revenue source, we know we will be back in this very place next year. Many legislators attended our public hearings, acknowledging the need for a new solution. The Governor also heard your voices at the hearing he attended in Revere. Our hope is that we may continue these discussions in the coming weeks and months so that we can collectively figure out a way to continue to provide a world-class public transit system to you."

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