Should the MBTA be able to raise money through a regional tax to deal with its chronic operating deficit? Sen. Will Brownsberger is floating the idea. His trial balloon’s basket contains a suggestion that an increase in the sales or property tax, subject to voter approval, would be the most likely source of funds. Sen. Brownsberger wants to know your thoughts, weigh in here.
Reading through the 1.1 billion-a-year transportation plan, I was struck how little mention there is of buses. Bus ridership accounts for 30% of trips on the MBTA, yet the only funds allocated are to speed up plans to replace the current fleet. No mention of creating dedicated bus lanes. How about creating temporary bus lanes by eliminating parking during rush hour on more congested streets? This is already done on some streets downtown, Arlington Street for example, but any vehicle can travel in it. A lane dedicated to buses would help address one of the biggest reasons for poor bus service: the bus is sitting in traffic.
Lots of attention gets paid to bicycle lanes and making it easier to commute on two wheels. The topic lights up blogs and the comments sections of newspapers. But this very heavily used form of transit gets relatively little attention.
Will Brownsberger has a good summary of the suggestions that were made at a meeting to talk about Green Line Improvements. The MBTA stated that the starting in 2015, there will be real time tracking on the Green line, as there is on the other lines. The Walking Bostonian website also has a map of which parts of the city have the highest and lowest rates of car ownership.
Are you feeling like you can’t breath, that everyone is crowding around you, and you can’t move? You must be on the Green Line. The MBTA will be making a presentation about what can be done to improve capacity and how much it would cost, among other issues. Public comments and suggestions welcome. The meeting was organized by a group of elected officials, including State Sen. Will Brownsberger, Reps. Honan and Moran, and Councilor Ciommo. Details here.
The MBTA has opted to lean on higher prices rather than service cuts to close its $160 million deficit. Bus rides will go from $1.25 to $1.50, trips on the subway from $1.70 to $2, and a combined monthly pass would jump from $59 to $70. There will be some service reductions, but none that will affect Allston Brighton. The 64, 501 and 503 were spared. The MBTA board must still must approve this plan, but that is almost certain. The drama over T funding is not over, though, and next year’s legislative session looks to be an important one for T users.
Last night’s hearing was attended by about 200 people, with more than 30 speaking against the cuts and fare increases (There were more, but I left after I spoke, at #29). It was a mix of people who seem to have made the rounds to many of the hearings and local residents, along with local State Senator Will Brownsberger and State Representatives Kevin Honan and Michael Moran. It received additional coverage on NECN. Neither of the T’s proposal’s got any support, and it looks like they are looking to develop alternatives, if you read to the end of the Boston.com story above. Whatever plan they devise, it will likely only resolve the system’s budget woes for the short-term, given its heavy debt load and the increasing demand on its service.
The MAPC (click the link for their very long and boring title) has created a calculator that lets you decide how the MBTA should balance its budget. Senator Will Browsberger has linked to an array of facts, figures, data and debt schedules that will engage transit geeks and make everyone else’s eyes glaze over. Read it all while you wait for the 57.
The above routes are on the chopping block in the MBTA’s plan to contend with its deficit. There is a public hearing this coming Monday, March 12 from 5:30 to 7:30PM at the Veronica Smith Senior Center, 20 Chestnut Hill Avenue in Brighton Center. Show up, raise your voice, wave your Charlie Card. The MBTA needs to hear how much we need these bus lines.
New Balance has big plans for its property along Guest Street, adjacent to the Massachusetts Turnpike. A track and field facility and a hockey arena are part of the project, along with other fitness-related activities and a hotel. On the other side of the Pike, the Skating Club of Boston intends to relocate to a new, three-rink complex on Lincoln Street, one of them a two thousand seat performance venue. Boston University is adding a playing field on Gardner Street, Allston that will have room for one thousand spectators.
So how is everyone going to get there? The New Balance/Skating Club area is poorly served by public transit, essentially buses that get stuck in the stop and go traffic along Western Avenue. There will soon be 242 new apartments next to the Shaw’s. BU’s playing field in a bit farther away, but will still add to traffic. Harvard Stadium is right around the corner, and you have to throw BC’s football field into the mix.
We need a commuter rail station. The MBTA does not want to talk about this. At all. Understandably, given they are are having major budget problems. But the neighborhood needs to bring this up, again and again. Demand they start studying it. Where will a station be built, how it will connect to buses, will it have parking. These proposals represent major economic growth that should be debated, encouraged, and supported. But not unless there is a comprehensive approach.
Since the Turnpike was built, public transit in Allston Brighton has deteriorated. We lost the three rail stations (Allston, Brighton and Faneuil) to accommodate suburban commuters on the highway, then lost our last direct connection to downtown, the A-line trolley. The state is going to get a lot of revenue from this development. Some of it needs be used to build a better transit system, here.
The MBTA Advisory Board has proposed an alternative to the MBTA’s two service-slashing, fare-raising plans, according to Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin. Fares would go up 25% but service would remain the same. To raise even more revenue, there would be fees, including: $10 per year per college student and 50 cents per ticket for sport and entertainment events. So maybe the T can collect some of the lost fares from students who think the B-line is free for undergrads.
Monday, March 12 there will be a hearing in Brighton on the various proposals.. Veronica Smith Senior Center, 20 Chestnut Hill Avenue, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.
The MBTA has announced two options to deal with its $161 million dollar shortfall. Option One will deplete your Charlie Card much faster while getting you to your destination more slowly than now, but better than Option Two. Option Two hurts your wallet less but your commute more, with smaller fare increases but massive reductions in service. If the more severe service cuts are implemented, Allston Brighton will lose the 64, 501 and the 503 bus lines. If that happens, good luck getting on the 57, never mind getting a seat. Imagine everyone who needs to get downtown having to rely on it.
Option One: Bigger fare hike, maybe you can fight your way onto the bus.
Option Two: Smaller fare increase, huge service cuts? Might as well walk
Maybe all those new bike lanes were part of the plan.
Contact your state legislators and let them know you don’t want to have to endure hell on wheels.
State Senator Will Brownsberger
State Representative Kevin Honan
State Representative Michael Moran
Don’t forget Governor Deval Patrick appoints the MBTA board and general manager.
The T is also soliciting opinions.