Monday, June 05, 2006

(Less) Fare T

Well, the Duke has the nicest way of disagreeing while agreeing. I'll tuck former-Governor Michael Dukakis' response to my call for fully subsidized MBTA below.

The gist is that he too wants low T fares to attract riders, to reduce cars/gas/pollution in the commonwealth, and like that. However, as when he was in charge, he wants to propose a reduction back $1, something he thinks the General Court might begrudgingly support. Michael Dukakis seated

Here, we have our reasons for a no-fare T. We call on others to help make this point at the last Boston hearing on the pending no-fair fare increases. This is Tuesday, June sixth, 4:30 -- 6:30 p.m. at the Copley Library.

Political Ice Water: The current T administration claims that its mandate from the legislature does not allow any thoughts, proposals or whispers of funding changes. We say it's their job to listen at the hearing and report on the public comments, even if these include no-fare T.

We have simultaneously written to our legislators (Walsh and Owens-Hicks) and Senate and House leaders. We used our right of free petition to request that they propose a fully subsidized T to permit fareless mass transit.

None in the legislature has responded. On the other hand, Gov. Dukakis' remarks follow.

Thanks for your letter. Free transit is a damn good idea. The problem, of course, is money. We already subsidize the T to the tune of several hundred millions of dollars a year, and it seems obvious that at the very least, we are going to have to start picking up its capital costs with general revenues if we are going to avoid this insane proposal for another fare increase. Convincing nonriders, especially in other parts of the state, that those of us who ride it should pay nothing will be very difficult. My preference at this point is to get it back down to a buck and begin to pay for its capital costs out of the regular state budget. That may not do as much as free transit, but at a time when gas is over three dollars a gallon, it should attract thousands of motorists out of their cars and on to the T. Of course, if we don't get ourselves a new Democratic governor, all of this will be academic. Romney doesn't know where Ashmont is, and I suspect Kerry Healey doesn't either.

All the best. Mike Dukakis
To us, that's a start. We also have to talk it up (as at Tuesday's hearing, as well as to our own legislators). With modest exceptions, such as the Mass Pike toll, we fully subsidize that other mass transit, highways. We enable the highways and infrastructure that discourages us from taking trains and buses.

Let's call it what it is! It's time to take the T and make it so efficient and inexpensive that we all take the T or bike.

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