We’ve covered in general the MBTA’s proposed fare increases and service cuts already, and we wrote a little about what’s causing all of this mess to come about.  Today, we are going to look at what these cuts would really look like.

For its part, the MBTA has been good at putting out a lot of information to go over.  Of all that information, I think the images below are the most important.  These two maps show the cuts in service proposed under each of the MBTA’s two scenarios.  Click the images to expand.

Scenario 1:

Scenario 2:

What stands out right away is how extensive the MBTA’s bus system really is.  The red and blue color scheme reinforces the idea that the MBTA is the circulatory system for the entire region.

The map for Scenario 1 is a little confusing.  It includes bus routes that would be cut entirely, and also routes that would only be cut on Saturdays, Sundays, or the entire weekend.  Trying to not be too Boston-centric, even though the proposed cuts in this scenario leave a lot of Boston alone, it’s still not a palatable proposal.  Each person who needs to get into Boston and can no longer do so via bus or other public transit will still need to get there, and instead they will be in their car.  That means more cars in Boston which means more traffic, more accidents, and slower bus trips for the remaining routes.  Additionally, the remaining routes into the city will be more crowded which will slow service as well.

The map for Scenario 2 is much more straightforward.  It’s also terrifying.  Look at the extent of the service that would be cut, all the way from the North Shore to the South Shore and west out to I-95.  Take all the problems associated with Scenario 1 and make them exponentially worse.  As someone who personally thinks Boston already has too many cars, I don’t want to imagine what the city would look like with these cuts in place.

It’s important to remember that these maps just show the cuts in bus service.  We have to keep in mind that weekend services on the E Line, the Mattapan High Speed Line, and the Commuter Rail would all be eliminated in both proposals, along with ferry services as well.

I think these two visuals do an excellent job of showing what’s at stake.  If nothing else is done, the bus system as depicted in these two maps is what we will be left with.

There is a final aspect of the proposed fare increases and service reductions that I want to highlight as well, and that is who these cuts are likely to affect the most.

The Infrastructurist posted some interesting information back in May about who rides transit.  While the point of the article was that mass transit riders in general are not poor and ethnic minorities, when you look at just the information for bus riders, it shows that bus riders do tend to be less affluent and more likely to be ethnic minorities.  Click the image to expand.

With the focus of the two proposed scenarios being on reductions in bus services, it’s obvious that ethnic minorities and the less affluent will be much more likely to be affected by the fare increases and service reductions.  When the economy still hasn’t picked up all the way, and when people are trying to find every way they can to cut back on costs, should we really be forcing more people into their cars and onto already crowded highways?

Since the MBTA first announced these two proposals, two things have kept the hope in me alive that the end result will not be so dire: first, Secretary of Transportation and former MBTA GM Richard Davey has said again and again that the proposals are not written in stone and should be seen as the starts to a conversation about funding for the MBTA; second, the 20 public meetings scheduled across the region show that the MBTA wants to hear from their customers and they want to hear other ideas.

I don’t want to see the MBTA start down this path.  I don’t want to see services cut, and in a perfect world I wouldn’t want to see fares increase, but I understand that may be unavoidable.  I want a public transit system that moves people quickly, safely, efficiently, and relatively inexpensively.

If you agree with that, then get involved.  If the proposals get implemented as is, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves for not demanding the long-term changes needed to finally fix the T.

– Nick Downing, Future Boston Program Manager

Resources:

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About Future Boston Alliance

Future Boston Alliance is a non-profit organization seeking to revolutionize our city's creative economy. By advocating for new talent and businesses and holding educational events, we aim to make Boston a hub for collaboration, innovation, and culture.

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