Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Crowds Loudly Protest MBTA Service Cuts

Transit Agency Says It Has $160 Million Budget Deficit

BOSTON -- Crowds turned out in Boston Monday to protest proposed bus and subway fare hikes and service cuts that the state says it needs in order to balance a budget that is $160 million in the red.

Emotions boiled over at public hearing held by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority at the Boston Public Library, where 450 angry protesters packed into a meeting hall.

"You want us to boycott? You want us to walk? We will walk," said one disgruntled rider who said thousands depend on public transportation and their lives will be turned upside down if the cuts go into effect.

Many young people attended the hearing. One high school sophomore said she takes the MBTA's Orange Line to school every day.

"If this goes, I will drop out of school because I won't be able to afford this a lot. My parents aren't paid enough money," said Karla Calachij.

"T riders are being told they need to choose between two equally rotten proposals for cuts," another rider said at the hearing.

Before the meeting, dozens gathered outside carrying signs and banners.
"An increase in fares, especially for my low income patients, would prevent them from being able to get to their appointments as often as they need to," said nurse Elizabeth Samuels.

The MBTA said it needs to end ferry service, cut bus routes and end commuter rail line service on the weekends. The agency said it may have no other choices. At this point, nothing is set in stone.

"We really tried to find services that wouldn't affect a lot of customers, but unfortunately, these aren't statistics, these are people. These are our customers," said Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Richard Davey.

The BPL hearing was the seventeenth of 30 planned public hearings on the fare hikes. They will end in March, at which time the MBTA will re-evaluate its proposals.

SOURCE: Crowds Loudly Protest MBTA Service Cuts - Boston News Story - WCVB Boston

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