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Your Turn: Cut All MBTA Bus Service to Melrose, Weekend Commuter Rail?

The MBTA unveiled two possible approaches to handling the agency's $161 million deficit, and under one scenario, the five bus routes that have stops in Melrose would all be eliminated, along with weekend commuter rail service.

Melrose could face the elimination of all five MBTA bus routes that the stop in the city and weekend commuter rail service, along with higher fares and increased Oak Grove station parking rates, under proposals unveiled by the MBTA this week.

Facing a $161 million deficit and fares that have not been increased since Jan. 1, 2007, the MBTA released two scenarios along with an impact analysis that details the specific impact of each scenario.

The first scenario would stave 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 have less severe fare increase, but result in 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 call for eliminating commuter rail service on weekends, along with commuter rail service on weeknights after 10 p.m. Ferry service would also be eliminated; subway service remains largely untouched.

The following chart shows fee changes under both scenarios:

FARE AND FEE CHANGES
Current Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Subway fare (CharlieCard) $1.70 $2.40 (41 percent hike) $2.25 (32 percent hike) Bus fare (CharlieCard) $1.25 $1.75 (40 percent hike) $1.50 (20 percent hike)

Monthly LinkPass (unlimited subway and local bus)

$59 (34.7 subway rides) $80 (33.3 subway rides)

$78 (34.7 subway rides)

Day LinkPass

$9 $12

$12

Week LinkPass

$15 $20

$20

Monthly Local Bus Pass

$40 (32 single fares) $55 (31.4 single fares)

$48 (32 single fares)

Parking at Oak Grove Station $5.50 $7.50 $7

The MBTA has scheduled a series of public hearings on the proposals over the next two months; the closest hearing to Melrose will be held in the Malden City Council Chambers, 200 Pleasant St., on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. Comments on the proposals can also be emailed to fareproposal@mbta.com or mailed to: Fare Proposal, 10 Park Plaza, Suite 3910, Boston, MA 02116.

Which scenario would you choose? What would you propose? Let's discuss the proposals in the comments below. 

Download the PDF of the MBTA's full report on fare increases and service reductions here.

Daniel DeMaina (Editor) January 05, 2012 at 03:29 PM
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!"
Dave Gray January 05, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Imagine no commuter rail service on weekends or after 10PM - all those hammered Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics fans driving home after games? And every one of those people will have to pay for parking in Boston at $20 bucks or more a pop. What about the people whose work schedules rotate, like hospital employees? And no bus stops at all? I think you might be right - this seems like a "false flag" intended to keep the complaints about a large fare increase to a minimum.
Bob Bell January 05, 2012 at 05:20 PM
At the absolute depth of the economic crash the Atlantic Monthly did a feature article on which cities would recover first, Boston was at the top of the list for two reasons: 1) the intellectual capital generated by the universities, and 2) the great public transportation network. Atlanta is just now building its first subway line, to be completed in 2020. Our first line is over 100 years old. Real estate in Melrose and the other towns with great public transportation access (Arlington, Brookline) stabilized long before towns without the same access.The system must be supported and enhanced, not decimated, for the good of our economy.
Nicole Morse January 05, 2012 at 05:26 PM
That would be insane! The bus service is pretty unreliable even now but at least it's something!! And the buses are always packed so lots of people would be impacted. The fare hikes are also ridiculous!
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) January 05, 2012 at 05:30 PM
@Dave Excellent points about people driving into town, paying for parking and then driving out (hopefully not inebriated). My first thought was also about people who work on Saturdays and Sundays in the city. @Bob There's some food for thought. While Massachusetts is doing better than most of the rest of the nation in this regard, the job market is still not great. How would cuts to public transportation service affect the Mass. economy? @Nicole You know, I've been trying to find an accurate round-up of subway/commuter rail fares around the U.S. to compare to the proposed hikes here. I wonder how Boston's fares compare to NYC, Chicago, D.C., San Francisco, etc.
Dave Gray January 05, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Sara Jacobi in Wakefield wrote the following: "Currently, a one-way commuter rail fare between Wakefield and North Station costs $4.75. Under the first scenario, the fare would increase to $7. Scenario two would put the cost of a one-way ticket at $6.50. Parking at the nearest subway line, Oak Grove Station in Malden, would rise from the current $5.50 to $7.50 under scenario one, and increase to $7 under scenario two. Under both plans, commuter rail tickets would be good for only 14 days, instead of the current 180, and multi-ride tickets for the commuter rail would be eliminated." I wrote: "By multi-ride tickets do you mean the monthly commuter rail passes, which are also good on the subway? Instead of costing $151 (from Wakefield) a month, eliminating them would then cost a commuter $14 a day for commuter rail and $3.50 for the subway, or $402.50 a month for someone who uses both rail and subway. That's a 165% increase. Who can afford that kind of an increase?"
Susan January 09, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I have an idea, the T needs to declare bankruptcy and reorganize. They are being swallowed whole by their old bond pay out and MASSIVE employee benefits. Further they need to reorganize the bus routes so that all 3 buses, 136, 137 and 131 do NOT travel Main street at the same time. A few years ago the T decided that whether you took the bus or not everyone who purchased a monthly subway pass would pay an increased amount and pay for the buses as well. Now the buses are well subscribed and they want to eliminate them, it is really time for a change. Reorganization needs to occur and I for one do NOT want to hear about busing this summer so the T can make a new stop for the IKEA, none of the plans the T has out there will help improve the daily commute, no matter how much money we pay into a broken system.
Daniel DeMaina (Editor) January 09, 2012 at 02:55 PM
@Susan I've never really seen/paid attention to it, but if three buses are on Main Street at the same time, that certainly seems like one way the MBTA could reorganize, increase efficiency and save money, thus preventing cuts elsewhere or higher fares. I wonder how much inefficiency like that is currently built into the system.
Susan January 09, 2012 at 03:13 PM
My unofficial observation is that there is an enormous amount of overlap that with a few smart people could be looked at and corrected, but then the problem is dealing with union employees. For example, there are a number of places where buses run the same route as the T, that seems to be a waste of resources. Or how about the fact that either the 136 or 137 runs to Oak Grove station and then onto Malden Center T stop, WHY??? another waste of resources. There are a lot of ways to improve the system and conserve limited resources but the T is not interested in that, right now they are trying to figure out a way to continue paying out their bond interest debt and stay a float.
Steve Meuse January 09, 2012 at 08:28 PM
131, 136, and 137 all travel down Main Street at similar times because that's when the peak travel time is. People try to get to work by a specific time. I used to get to Oak Grove at 7:30 on the 131 and be at work by 7:55. If they staggered those buses, then people wouldn't get to Oak Grove in time (say 8am at the office) or they would be really early for work.
Steve Meuse January 09, 2012 at 08:29 PM
I've suggested several times to cut either 136, 137 or both from continuing on to Malden Center. An even easier fix would be to cut out the doubleback down Banks Place.
Bob Bell January 10, 2012 at 02:01 PM
It is axiomatic that the intellectual innovation spawned by the Boston area universities, which are global leaders, distinguishes the Boston area from most other metro-US cities. Retention of graduates is our key to success. Transportation convenience and costs are key factors in residential decision making. The state supports "smart growth" and transportation oriented development. Decimating our public transportation network is totally counter productive from an economic development perspective.

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