Statement by Marc Draisen on Proposed MBTA Cuts in Commuter Rail, The Ride
MAPC is deeply troubled by today’s announcement that the MBTA may cut all weekend commuter rail service along with some of The Ride’s services for riders with disabilities in order to close a $42 million budget gap.
March 13, 2017
Marc D. Draisen, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), today released the following statement:
“MAPC is deeply troubled by today’s announcement that the MBTA may cut all weekend commuter rail service along with some of The Ride’s services for riders with disabilities in order to close a $42 million budget gap.
For two years we have heard that the MBTA doesn’t need any more money, that it can’t even spend the money that it has. Today’s news, coming on the heels of the loss of late-night service on the T, is another in a series of stories that indicate the MBTA is a cash-strapped agency that can only meet its budget goals by cutting services to riders who depend upon the T.
These cuts almost always hurt transit-dependent populations most, including the elderly, young people, and low-income riders. These cuts damage the growing vitality of Boston and surrounding communities, and weaken an economy that depends on a robust transit system.
Underinvestment in the MBTA has been a chronic problem, and we have ignored critical needs for nearly two decades. Demand for transit is increasing even as the MBTA is providing less service to riders. If the system isn’t reliable or if services are cut, the T is encouraging riders who can afford it to get back into their cars, which will lead to increased congestion, more time spent driving, and negative impacts on air quality and public health.
The Baker Administration, MassDOT, and Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) have made great strides in improving the management of the MBTA and making the T run more efficiently. For these efforts, they deserve our praises. But they can’t work miracles. Simply put, the T needs more money – as do the Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) in other parts of the state, where services are even more limited. We should be growing these systems, meeting transit demand where it exists and building lifelong transit riders. We need to make sure that there are enough funds to meet today’s demand, fix the system that we have, and build for the future.
The Commonwealth got some great news last week when US News & World Report said Massachusetts was the best state in the country to live. But the same report ranked us 45th in transportation. If we want to protect our overall ranking, strengthen our economy, and improve our quality of life, we must invest in the transit system and stop cutting services that people need.”