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There are 9 comments on Fixing the T: Advice from Terriers for MBTA’s New General Manager

  1. For those that suggest lowering the fares, I hope you realise that the entire public transport system is subsidised as is, and the system operates at a loss. How does it make sense to expect to make all these additions to the T and then on top of that also expect fares to be reduced? You must be delusional if you think you can have your cake and eat it too.

    1. This is totally possible. One study conducted by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center found that free fares on the MBTA could lead to increased ridership and stimulate economic growth. By removing the financial barrier of fares, more people, including low-income individuals, would be able to access public transportation, leading to reduced traffic congestion and pollution. This, in turn, could attract businesses and investments to the region.
      Also, cities like Kansas City and Olympia have already implemented free fare programs with positive outcomes. These cities reported increased ridership, improved equity, and enhanced overall public transportation experience.

    2. Who cares, public transit is exactly that – a public utility. It benefits the entire state to keep Boston’s economy running as efficiently as possible. Even if the T must be run at a deficit to remove fares it would benefit the economy in a much larger way resulting in higher incoming taxes anyway.

  2. Reform the MBTA pension system so that new hires get the same pension benefits as other non-MBTA state employees get. This is one of the reasons the T is financially strapped. Yes, I know the T is already having trouble hiring new staff. But there are other ways to attract new hires to MBTA jobs. Also, ban eating on the T. Reduced eating means reduced trash and rodents, which in turn means reduced cleaning costs. (And, actually clean the trains and stations.) And, put a freeze on subway and commuter rail expansion until the lines at the core of the system are running efficiently. Yes, I know the political power to support he T is in the suburbs, but our political leaders need to demonstrate that they have a spine, and business leaders who need a functioning transportation system to do business in the region, need to flex their muscles and hold the politician’s feet to the fire.

  3. Personally I think another point that is not mentioned enough in discussing the T is making it more accessible for people with mobility issues or impairment. In general the MBTA is one of the least accessible forms of public transit that I have seen. There is hardly any way for anyone with a wheelchair, stroller, or walker, to easily get to most stops below ground, and above ground half of the cars have those built in stairs. On the green line especially, drivers tend to only let people in through the front doors to make them pay, and those doors always have stairs and are not wide enough for a wheelchair, strollers, and wider models of walkers. One time I saw a driver on the green line ignore a woman with a stroller to instead spend 15 minutes arguing with every person who either did not have enough money to pay (telling them to add money to their charlie card despite the fact that most above ground stops including the one we were at do not have a place to do so) and even confiscating a womans charliecard despite the fact that she had paid because she paid with her fathers senior discound charlie card. After one of the people who was refused service informed the driver that there was a woman with a stroller the driver started complaining about how it is “every day with you people” and she is “not playing this game again” as she went to manually let that side door open and charge the woman with her stroller as she got on. By the time we started moving 15 minutes had elapsed since when the train (which was already late) arrived.

    I also bring this up because, looking at the suggestions in the article, I’m worried that a lot of the suggestions like removing stops for “efficiency” or “speed” arent taking into account that what may be a walkable distance between close stops like BU east and BU central for some is already very challenging for others.

    In general, I don’t think removing any stops would help. From a financial standpoint removing stops costs money that the MBTA already doesn’t have to spare, plus reduces potential revenue since it is even less accessible. From a time efficiency standpoint it also doesn’t make much sense because the above ground lines still have to obey traffic laws as well as avoid pedestrians at every intersection. Even if trams/trains were given traffic priority (which they should, and would reduce many speed and delay issues) the T still needs to be able to slow down at a safe speed for when it does have to stop- especially given how often trains above (and even below) ground hit people and cars. In addition, if somehow passenger numbers werent reduced by removing a stop (therefore not affecting funding), that would just make what stations do remain even more crowded- which is a problem given how small many stations are (if you were a regular T user before covid you may recall what I mean). Furthermore, if stops are removed without reducing customer numbers that means that the time it takes to let customers off and on is even longer because what was once two stops is now condensed into one- ESPECIALLY if the policy of each person swiping one at a time at the front of the car and then pushing through a crowd to find a spot is continued.

    With these concerns in mind, I also think removing stops with the current inaccessibility of the MBTA further alienates not only people with visible mobility issues like wheelchair, walker, stroller, cane, and crutch users (which can range from people with lifelong disabilities to someone with a recent injury as well as parents with children), pregnant people, amputees, and the elderly, but those with less visible boundaries such as people with fatigue from an illness or disability, people with asthma, people with non-visible or untreated mobility related injuries, or someone coming off of a long physically demanding shift, as well as just people who happen to be carrying a lot like groceries, a project for work or school, or parents walking with small children. What may just be a walkable block for one person suddenly becomes a mountain for others.

    Access can also be an issue of agency for many of the people I just listed. Not everyone can afford a car in a city like boston, not to mention the prices of gas and what few parking spots do exist. Those who may be able to afford a car may not be physically able to operate one- or the location they need to go is impractical compared to a short ride on the T. Someone also may just not live in boston and is visiting. For many people the T is their way to work or school and if they already have a barrier like a mobility issue that stop just slightly closer to them could be the difference between getting a degree or not or having employment (therefore a source of income) or not. There should be options for those who don’t have many so that they can have agency and exercize as much free will as any able bodied person who cant wait an additional 2 minutes (if even that).

  4. One thing that would definitely improve safety would be platform screen doors at all Red, Orange, Blue, and underground Green Line stations.

  5. As a visitor coming from Asia. I see many don’t tap when onboarding. How does that ensure mbta to make money and maintain or even improve the quality.
    Why not reference what Japan or Taiwan does and copy the system that might works for Boston

  6. Lot of T stops don’t have stop ID marked. Those who are not regular committees, have hard time, which direction to wait.
    Secondly, T should be free for at least 75 years of age or older. Those who are using T at this age are not very rich and I believe they have paid their dues to the government.

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