Reasoning that high gas prices and more costly subway fares elsewhere will make T fare hikes okay is lunacy.
I can hear the suburban legislators sputtering, but this is a long overdue idea, one that fits the emergencies of high gas prices, jammed city streets, and asthma-inducing pollution. Last week's insane and inane announcement by MBTA management that it will try to jack its fares way up shows they need a dope slap.
Perfect Mass TransitLet's consider the ideal. What would make a perfect transit system?
- Next to departure and destination points.
- 24-hour operation.
- Frequent to the point of being continuous.
- Easy entry and exit.
Yet, despite the expsense and inconvenience of auto travel, we have declining ridership in a city filled with motor vehicles. They fill the air with toxins and noise. They clog the roads and cost billions in highway construction and repair.
We are looking forward to $3, $4 and maybe $5 or higher per gallon fuel.
Boston is an ideal laboratory for building an ideal mass-transit system, which we have not done. The central city is under 600,000 people, yet very compact. Likewise, the metropolitan area of around 3 million is near MBTA lines.
Yet, we foster car commuting, are very bicycle hostile, and seem to do what we can to discourage transit usage. The latest outrage is socking commuters when the gas price is going up.
Get With the ProgramInstead, we should drop MBTA fares or make buses and subways free. By keeping fares equal to other cities and bringing the cost of mass transit to the level of car commuting, we ensure that congestion and pollution instead of capturing riders. The MBTA pigpiles woes on potential riders instead of luring them to use mass transit and benefit us all.
At the projected rates, a subway roundtrip will be $3.40 per person, assuming that you only go one place. If you look at a few commuters or a family headed anywhere on the line, suddenly they can justify spend gas and filling up a parking meter. Dumb.
Not even counting the Big Dig, the commonwealth and Feds heavily subsidize the suburban and exurban car-driving communities. We build and maintain massive highways and services for a very few people. Count it per passenger mile and it is much more than what a free T would cost.
Pennsylvania brags about having the nation's first turnpike and we brag about the first subway. Sorry, but both look and ride like it. They range from only okay to dangerous to unattractive to the public.
The solution is to make the T free or a low cost, like a quarter or 50-cents, per ride. Add more trains and buses, pay for drivers instead of fare systems and collectors.
I see Boston area roads used by delivery trucks and passenger buses...and bicycles.
If the legislature gets with the program and calculates the costs, we can do this.
This rant will continue with figures and vetting.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, Boston, MBTA, fare hike