Friday, July 10, 2009

MBTA Cuts and Fare Hikes

455W at North St

As many of us expected, the MBTA has proposed a 20% fare hike in return for not cutting service.  Otherwise, the MBTA will drastically reduce service to Salem and elsewhere.  I’ve been dreading this possibility for some time. 

From the MBTA’s booklet, and No Free Transfer, the details for Salem.

Bus Service:  These routes would be eliminated:

  • 451 Salem-North Beverly
  • 459 Salem-Downtown Crossing
  • 465 Salem-Liberty Tree Mall (and all routes in and out of Peabody)

These routes would be changed:

  • 450 Salem-Haymarket via Western Ave.
  • 455 Salem-Haymarket via Loring Ave.

No details were given.  (My guess:  Service cut back to Wonderland, as on the weekends, but with increased waits for a bus.)

Bus service would be reduced after 8:00 on weekends.  Service from Lynn garage (where Salem routes originate) would be discontinued on weekends, implying no service.

Private bus service subsidies would be eliminated:

  • Beverly
  • Peabody (shuttle service to Centennial Park from Salem)

Commuter Rail:

  • No service after 7:00 PM weekdays
  • No service at all on weekends

Commuter Boat service will be eliminated.  No details how this would affect the Salem Ferry’s new commuter pass program.


  • Beverly and Peabody would no longer have RIDE service.

It should be an understatement to say this would be very bad for Salem.  If we accept the cuts, where would it stop?  The Driscoll administration (and I) wants a new Salem Depot.  If we lose most of our service, where would the justification come from for this (so far) $30 million project?

I’m particularly upset (though not surprised) over the prospect of losing the 465.  It has been a bus route for decades, having been run by the Eastern Mass. Street Railway, Michaud Bus, ABC bus and the MBTA.  It’s how seniors without cars get to the senior center in Peabody, and how they would get to Salem’s proposed senior center.

Several of my physicians are in the medical offices behind the Northshore Mall.  I and others would have no way to get to them without a car!  I can hear people say, “well, you shouldn’t be out shopping anyway!” since the route has served both shopping malls in Peabody, but doctor appointments, well…

In the past, the T has never cancelled a fare hike.  It came several years ago when the T introduced its CharlieCard, and I’m not expecting anything different.

All of the outrage over fares is too familiar.  As is my cynicism over people who tell T riders to pay their own way while they clamor for road projects on the state’s dime.  Gas tax?  Nope.

It’s not true, as some think, that “the poor” or those on “fixed incomes” get a break on fares.  Some people with disabilities can get a discount, as can seniors.  But virtually everyone else who cannot afford a car pays the full rate.

Public hearings and “workshops” are set.  One is in Salem:

Monday, August 17
City Hall Annex, Room 313
120 Washington Street, 3rd floor
6:00-8:00 PM

The main public hearing is in Boston:

Thursday, August 27
State Transportation Building
10 Park Plaza
5:30-7:30 PM

Specific details on the fare hikes. 

UPDATE:  Disabled riders are already affected.