MBTA Fare and Service Hearing TUESDAY in Worcester

As you may have heard, the MBTA is facing a major budget crisis and needs to find ways to cut expenses and raise revenues ASAP.

There will be a hearing to discuss impacts to both fares and service next Tuesday, January 17, from 6-8pm at the Saxe Room in the Worcester Public Library.  (There will be numerous hearings, but that’s the closest one to us.  A full schedule can be found on the MBTA website.)

The MBTA is considering two scenarios, both of which are outlined in this document.  Here’s a summary of how they would affect those in the Worcester area:

Scenario 1 – One-way from Worcester to Boston would be $11.25 (up from $7.75), not including any subway fares (which would go up to $3 from $2).  There would be no commuter rail service after 10pm and no weekend commuter rail service.

Scenario 2 – One-way from Worcester to Boston would be $10.50 (up from $7.75), not including any subway fares (which would go up to $3 from $2).  As with Scenario 1, there would be no commuter rail service after 10pm and no weekend commuter rail service.

Either way, we are looking at a significant fare increase and no weekend service.

If you use the commuter rail to work, this will mean a significant increase in your commuting costs.

If you use the commuter rail — however infrequently — to visit Boston for business or pleasure, you will see not only an increase in costs but an inability to go to Boston by train on the weekend.

If you are affected, it is very important that you attend the meeting next Tuesday, January 17, from 6-8pm at the Saxe Room in the Worcester Public Library  (yes, I’m repeating it myself) or submit a comment to the MBTA.

From the City Hall Notebook:

A key selling point to getting the City Council to approve the CSX freight yard expansion plans was that it would open the door for an additional 20 commuter rail trips between Boston and Worcester each weekday.

… But there are now some uneasy concerns at City Hall about whether Worcester will actually end up getting the kind of expanded commuter rail it had been promised now that the MBTA may be cutting back to deal with its $161 million budget shortfall.

… Mr. Palmieri said it would be unacceptable for the city to receive less commuter rail service than promised because additional service was what the CSX project was all about.

It should be noted, I suppose, that all commuter rail lines are affected by the proposed changes, not just Worcester.

Regular readers may recall that I was always skeptical about the prospect for increased commuter rail, because (1) it was going to require the MBTA to buy more train or cars, (2) it was unclear whether South Station could accommodate additional trains, and (3) it was likely just going to be expanding the local trains from Framingham, which are absolutely painful.  This is Nicole nearly two years ago:

I don’t think I’m being pessimistic if I wonder if “clear[ing] the tracks for up to 25 daily commuter rail trips in and out of Worcester by September 2012“ just means that the opportunity will be there, but that there won’t be trains, or availability at South Station, or that we won’t get more than promises, at least until the next election cycle.

One should never confuse “availability” or “opening doors” with firm promises.  Nor should we make the MBTA pay for something CSX said was a possibility.

Lest we leave on a down note, the following is from the MBTA (via New Urban Mechanics):

On January 12, 2012, the MBTA and City of Boston announced the MBTA + Boston Bikes Developer Challenge. The MBTA + Boston Bikes Developers Challenge calls on local software developers to create innovative applications and visualizations that show the power of Boston′s transportation options. In particular, the challenge calls on developers to highlight connections brought together by the combination of MBTA and New Balance Hubway systems. The challenge has two components; each offering prizes including both a one year MBTA CharlieCard LinkPass, a one year Hubway Membership, and passes to area food truck festivals. The prize for the Bikes, Lunch & T challenge will be a free pass to area food truck festivals.

More info here.

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