I've written here several times on TDS about the madness of our nation cutting back on our already fairly limited public transportation services at a time when the need for those services has never been greater. Yes, most such local transportation authorities are deep in the red these days, but that hasn't prevented governments at all levels from stupidly pumping more public dollars into building roads and highways even as the number of total vehicle miles traveled has been dropping due to high gas prices and a sluggish economy and will no doubt continue to drop.
Now from the MetroWest Daily News, comes a story about the the latest proposed fare increases and service cutbacks for commuter rail in the Boston area:
MetroWest residents might soon think twice about taking a Friday night trip to Fenway Park on the commuter rail, or even about accepting a job in Boston. That’s because as part of its plan to get out of the red, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said it will likely raise commuter rail fares about 40 percent and eliminate weekend and late night service.The story goes on to discuss the impact this will have on people's lives:
But local officials and legislators, not to mention commuters, say MBTA cuts and fare hikes will hobble MetroWest and take a sizable chunk from peoples’ pocketbooks.
“I have serious concerns about limiting the access to affordable public transportation and the impacts it will have on the quality of life of our residents and the economic vitality of our region,” said Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland.
The MBTA, $5.2 billion in debt, recently proposed the first fare increase in five years.
“The MBTA is by no means pleased with the prospect of having to cut service, but we are struggling to deal with a $161 million deficit in next year’s budget,” said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
There are two MBTA proposals to reduce that deficit, both of which would eliminate all weekend commuter rail service as well as weekday service after 10 p.m. One would raise fares by 35 percent and the other by 43 percent.
“I’m thinking about starting to drive to work but that’s expensive,” said Framingham commuter Arun Radhakrishnan last week, stepping off the 6:31 p.m. train from Boston. “I feel I’m stuck with no choice.”And right here is the evidence of just how important this service has become in this era of permanently high gasoline prices:
“We certainly understand the important role that the commuter rail plays in many lives,” Pesaturo said.
MBTA data shows that almost 5,000 people commute by train daily into Boston from MetroWest.
According to the state Department of Transportation, commuter rail ridership would drop by 20 percent with the proposed service cuts and fare increases.
Overall MBTA ridership increased nearly 6 percent last year, with 1.3 million trips taken every weekday. Matthews said rising turnpike tolls and gas prices have prompted many to turn to public transportation.So once again we see evidence that collectively our society is not only not choosing to prepare ourselves as the effects of peak oil on the economy continue to mount, but we are actually making counterproductive decisions which are making things even worse. If you want to know why I am so pessimistic that things will start to turn around before we hit the wall, look no further than this story as an all too common example pointing to the contrary.
Bonus: I've never seen a teevee ad extolling the virtues of public transportation, but if there ever was, they ought to use this song as the background music. It's a ready made commercial jingle if there ever was one