Here is our first guest post! The article below is written by Heidi Walsh and focuses on the MBTA's fare increase and service cut proposals and their effect on the city of Medford. You can read more of Heidi's work at the Suffolk Voice
Concerned Medford bus passengers lined up at the podium during the MBTA public hearing at Medford City Hall Chambers hoping to get a word in to save their possibly eliminated bus route.
The local meeting held on Wednesday, February 8th was hosted by four local legislators who listened to the complaints and concerns of many Medford residents who are connected to Boston through MBTA bus route services.
Two proposed ideas have been offered by the MBTA: one would only eliminated the service of express bus 325 whose route runs from Haymarket Station to Salem Street in Medford. The second plan cuts both the 325 and 326 bus routes from Haymarket and the 100 Fellsway bus route to Wellington Station.
These proposals are a result of the fast approaching $161 million deficit that the MBTA will deal with if Massachusetts legislators do not find a way to find additional revenue. Already a proposed toll on I-95 outside the New Hampshire border has been discussed to create funds, but monthly link and express passes will face a dramatic 25-32% increase in fare.
MBTA users in the chambers argued that because fare services are going up that does not mean that service should decrease as a result.
“I come to Boston using the T to pump back into the economy and put shoes on people’s feet,” said Michael Lamburg. “Are we supposed to take our cars all the way to the already filled Wellington and Alewife stations?”
Medford’s Wellington Station may also be facing a proposed increase. Like many of the MBTA’s stations Wellington has a Parking Structure. In conjunction with the proposed fare increases the MBTA is also looking to raise parking rates at all of their garages. To park at Wellingtons garage is will cost you $5.50 a day but with the increase it could cost you as much as $7.00 a day. Most people in attendance at the meeting stressed their disinterest in driveing to Boston or the already filled Wellington parking area and made note that local bus service is their only way to get to work.
According to Medford City Councilor Michael Marks, Medford ranks sixth out of 175 cites who use MBTA services. It could mean an “economic calamity” as one councilor pointed out if these services are cut because one of the biggest draws for citizens to move to Medford is its easy access to Boston.
State Representatives Paul Donato, Carl Sciortino, Sean Garballey, and Pat Jehlen listened to the input of riders and confirmed that while they do not currently have a proposed solution they’re determined to work with the MBTA for a resolution.
“We’re looking at any solution possible; everything is on the table,” Garballey said. “It has to be.”
Jonathan Davis,General Manager to the MBTA, is also a Medford resident and was in attendance at the meeting. Sitting in the back of the chambers silent, he took notes on some comments made at the podium.
“I just don’t understand the trouble we’re having with these funds,” said Medford resident Dr. William Wood. “Whatever happened to the rainy day fund people?”
One woman agreed in the crowd and said, “It’s pouring.”