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Waltham City Council Rails Against MBTA Service Cuts And Fare Hikes

Council urges residents to attend public hearing on MBTA proposals.

With major cuts and service hikes looming for MBTA service, the Waltham City Council last night railed against the MBTA’s plans saying it would hinder residents’ ability to get around and force the dig deeper into their pockets for transportation.

The council unanimously approved a resolution calling on the Waltham’s state legislators and Gov. Deval Patrick to find a way to close the MBTA’s $161 million budget gap without imposing fare hikes and service cuts, which would drastically impact Waltham.

Under the MBTA two proposed scenarios,

IMPACTS OF MBTA PROPOSAL

  • The proposal would cut the Route 554 bus which, services North Waltham, according to City Councilor George Darcy. “So now, no one on Trapelo Road east of Lexington [Street] will get service. Well, that’s just great,” Darcy said.
  • City Councillor Edmund Tarallo said the city would still have to pay its annual $1.2 million subsidy to the MBTA, even if the cuts and fare hikes were approved.
  • Also, lack of bus service would force some residents to use THE RIDE, the MBTA’s program that has cars transport people to their destination. The service is typically reserved for handicapped customers. Under the proposal, the RIDE fare would jump to $12 per trip, up from $2.
  • Service cuts and fare hikes would also result in additional traffic on Waltham’s streets and overcrowding on the Commuter Rail line that runs through the city, said, City Councillor Robert Logan, who takes an MBTA bus to his job in Boston each day.  
  • City Councillor Joe Vizard, who regularly uses MBTA buses, said the Waltham bus routes are routeinly packed each day, said the proposals would force people to drive into Boston and then pay high parking rates leaving less money to provide for their families. “We need to do everything we can to urge the legislature,” to avoid approving the cuts and fare hikes.
  • City Councillor Thomas Curtin said service cuts or fare hikes could lead to more motorists driving under the influence of alcohol because they would have no alternative option to driving.

WAYS TO ADDRESS PROBLEM

  • Logan said there are three ways to address the MBTA’s budget gap — fare hikes, service cuts or state legislators approving additional funding for the MBTA. “There needs to be increased financial support from the state,” Logan said, noting the MBTA can’t force the state to give it additional funding.
  • Logan also urged residents to attend a public forum to discuss the proposal scheduled to be held on MBTA officials will be on hand to hear comments.

 

Gary Rogers January 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM
As a local Realtor, one of the first questions I am asked from buyers who are considering moving to Waltham, is about public transportation. It is increasingly become one of the most important factors as more and more people have come to depend on it. Losing service to Waltham residents wil have an adverse effect on home values, primarily in the condo/townhome markets. Demographically, first time home buyers tend to use public transportation much more than the average buyer. These younger folks are important to the health and vibrancy of the city. The T is a big draw to them. I agree with Councilor Logan as well, that we will see an overload on the Commuter Rail. Our two stations already have a shortage of daytime parking. How can we encourage the use of public transportation on one hand, and then cut the service on the other?
Ryan Grannan-Doll January 24, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Gary, You make excellent points that really have not been made elsewhere.
Marie Daly January 25, 2012 at 03:27 AM
There was no calculation in the proposal for the impact on the remaining routes and parking. I take the 502 to Copley Square, which the MBTA says serves 1,200+ riders per day. The MBTA wants to cut this route in the 2nd scenario. How can the remaining routes absorb these 1,200 riders and thousands of other riders from the other cut routes? The Massachusetts legislature needs to restructure the MBTA debt, so that the debt service is spread among all Massachusetts taxpayers, and not on the MBTA riders.

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