UPDATE from the author (jlove1982): I just realized that some of my math is off because I hadn’t noticed that subway to bus transfers are free. I have no idea how I missed that… therefore, disregard that part (as you’ll see from my striking it, which I did so that you could see where I messed up), even though the increases are still daunting to those attempting to get around the city who don’t have the means. I’d take this down, but I think there’s a much more interesting discussion going on right now in regards to T tolls, so have at it and all that
It was early morning, and I was heading down to the T station. I was drifting off into a music-inspired funk while putting my monthly Charlie card into the T machine and going through when I thought I heard it beep on me. I turned around and went back, thinking it had failed and that I needed to do put my card in again. So I tried that, and was informed that I had used my card too soon in the past to allow me to use it again at that time. As I have one of those monthly passes, I found out one of the downsides of these things: It does not let you go through again if you already used it once at that station. Wanting to get to work on time, I decided to buy a $5 card to get through. So, in a rush, I used the machine and paid for a new card, and went through the T machine. However, as I went through again, I heard the beeping. Deciding that I went through fine, I kept going. But I looked back and then understood why this time the machine went off: a woman and her child had followed me through, using the modern turnstile machine’s open door (rather than the old turning thing that is being phased out of most of the T machines) to sneak through.
I did not think much of the incident until I was reminded of the Boston T increases that are set to go into effect at the beginning of next year. The T is increasing by around 25% across the board, as The Boston Globe further notes that:
Under the new fares, subway and trolley rides will go from $1.25 to $1.70, and bus fares from 90 cents to $1.25.
Meanwhile, the monthly rates will change, ending the Subway-only pass while decreasing the Subway/Bus pass by around $12 from the current price of $71 to $59. Now I will admit, I do currently have the monthly subway-bus pass. So I’ll save some money. But, as Boston Mayor Menino has noted (in the same above article),
“Who is going to take the T? It’s not going to be the executives from some of our biggest companies,” Menino said this morning in a Globe interview at the Parkman House. “It’s our working people … It will take money out of their pockets.”
He’s right. Let’s take a look at the $s, assuming that someone is only taking a bus or subway directly to their jobs…
Single fare bus: increase of .35 cents x 10 fares a week (5 round trips) = $3.50 extra per week, or around an extra $175 a year
Single fare subway: increase of .45 cents x 10 fares a week (5 round trips) = $4.50 extra per week, or around an extra $225 a year
But we all know that many people do not live on a direct line to work. Let’s play around with some fares. If we assume that people are having to commute via bus to a T stop, then getting on the T stop and walking the rest of the way, you now have a commute that will cost an extra $8 a week, and around an extra $400 a year. On top of this, if you have a bus to T to bus commute, your commute will average out to an extra $11.50 a week, and nearly $600 (actually $598) a year.
Those figures may seem small, but when you consider that nearly 20% of the city of Boston lives in poverty based on city statistics,
$598 (it) is a big freakin’ deal for a good deal of the city and outlying individuals.
Yet, there may be some justifiable reason to increase fares. Early on in the process, MBTA chief Mike Grabaskus cited
“flat ridership, increases in fuel costs, and $8.1 billion in debt”
as some reasons behind these increases. And I understand that pain is going to have to come from somewhere. But why in an area that for many people is the basis for how they get around in Boston?
To finish off the story I began before, the woman had asked for some change to get back, because it was obvious that she didn’t have the money to go both ways. I ended up giving her my CharlieCard (the T card). Yet there are people all over this city who can barely afford to get to where they need to go. I don’t think I need to explain that effective, cheap transportation is the way towards a more productive society: people can get to their jobs while getting the rest of their life in order, without going into massive amounts of debt. Therefore, you have people coming to work on time, and with less stress. That, and people who would otherwise not be able to afford to work in certain places can, and can do so without worrying about getting to and from work.
As we have seen, people from Mayor Menino to Governor-elect Patrick have opposed these increases. And we all should too. Because as Menino said, these fare increases are not going to affect you, me, or executives. It will affect the poor, and the people of Boston and the Boston-area who have a tough time of it as it is without having to pay
an extra $200-600 a year (more) just to get to work.