FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby wicked » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:46 pm

The fare hikes pushed my daily T fare, if I were to use the train from here, to $4 more per day. I don't work every day in the office, but if I did a 5-day week that's $20 a week, or $80-plus a month. It makes commuting non-economical, and nowhere near competitive with driving.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby frrc » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:52 pm

IMHO the state reps and senators should be forced to use the public transit system to get to work for a while, to get a 'reality check' on the system vs. being paid a daily stipend to drive to the State House every day.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby The EGE » Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:08 pm

In fact, it really does take decades to dig the system out of a hole. 1977 was about the low point of the system - every one-a-day branch line had been cut, and the Worcester, Fitchburg, Haverhill, and Newburyport lines were all cut back to shorter runs. The MBTA by that point owned the B&M and PC commuter assets, but the freefall was just stopping.
The new coaches came in 1978, and in 1979 the gas crisis precipitated the return of Haverhill service. 1980 saw the Fitchburg restored, though budget crises would take out the Woburn Branch and Providence service in 1981.

While we've had lots of good things since then - expansions, rebuilt stations, and the occasional new equipment - ridership is only finally returning to 1960s levels. While cutting lines is politically unfeasible - it was a lot easier to cut one-a-days and short branch lines like the Woburn - there's a whole lot they could do (like reducing service to rush hours only) that would wreck the system for years to come.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby RailBus63 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:05 pm

Weekend service on the Purple Line should be subsidized to the same extent as the subway and bus system on a per rider basis. CR costs almost twice as much to operate per vehicle-hour as subway service yet on a system-wide basis carries less than half as many passengers per hour. With funding for transit being so tight, it should not be a priority to heavily subsidize weekend train service for suburban residents so they can go to a Red Sox game or 'Disney on Ice'.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby wicked » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:37 pm

RailBus63 wrote:Weekend service on the Purple Line should be subsidized to the same extent as the subway and bus system on a per rider basis. CR costs almost twice as much to operate per vehicle-hour as subway service yet on a system-wide basis carries less than half as many passengers per hour. With funding for transit being so tight, it should not be a priority to heavily subsidize weekend train service for suburban residents so they can go to a Red Sox game or 'Disney on Ice'.


Yes, it should.

1. For economic reasons. I doubt the family that's spending $150 or whatever for 'Disney on Ice' tickets is going to burn that recreational cash at the local cineplex otherwise. They'll take it out of state.

2. Environmental reasons.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby NH2060 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:57 pm

frrc wrote:IMHO the state reps and senators should be forced to use the public transit system to get to work for a while, to get a 'reality check' on the system vs. being paid a daily stipend to drive to the State House every day.

Take away their perks and that just might happen. Wishful thinking i know.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby Rbts Stn » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:30 am

octr202 wrote:Except it's not really working...it's just kicking the can down the poorly maintained street/highway/subway track each year. Meanwhile, we get another year further into deferred maintenance, and another year more expensive for commuters without any end in sight (either controlling user costs or improving service). We were lucky that last year's fare increase did not cause a decline in ridership, but there's naturally going to be a limit to how many years going forward that can happen. We're seeing the very first stages of the "death spiral" on off-peak commuter rail service. Fares are up, service levels down. I wouldn't be surprised that if there is no long-term solutions this year, that we'll see the elimination of much of the weekend service that's left. Something similar may start happening with bus service as well.

At some point, we start to become wasteful - expensive resources and capital sitting idle for lack of funding to operate it, and the lost economic activity that it can generate. For one example, if we reduce the commuter rail system to essentially just a rush hour service, at what point does it no longer become cost-effective to maintain such a capital-intensive network for such a limited purpose. Once that conversation starts, we're heading down a rat hole that could take decades to dig out of.


Totally agree with you. A new source of revenue (gas tax?) has to be tapped to bring down the debt and to start to replace all the antiquated equipment.

Slight reductions of joblessness will help maintain ridership levels even with another $.25 increase in subway fares, but at some point driving makes more sense, as wicked mentioned
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby Teamdriver » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:14 am

The state of the current operations of the T is dismal. I am not talking about pie in the sky expansions, ect. The state , and Devalue , need to cut out the nonsense, and do something pertinent and effective. During the Viet Nam war , LBJ instituted The Revenue and Expenditure Control Act of 1968, signed by Johnson on June 28, 1968, imposed a 10 percent surcharge on individual and corporate income taxes. The state should do something like this , with a defined ending date, and just straighten things out. The rate doesnt have to be 10 %, but it has to be plausible, with no built in pork troth. And there has to be plausible managers to rebuild this hulk, Devalue's track record in appointments just plain sux.Stop the machinations and blundering around , get it done , once and for all. And dont you even think booze cruzing hours expansion, or the South Coast lead balloon , in any sense ( or nonsense ) , should be attached to this action. Take a cab , or drive to Middleboro , whichever applies !
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby wicked » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:16 pm

This was done in the late '80s/early '90s with the "temporary" increase of the income tax to 5.9 percent. I think it did get rolled back, eventually.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby BandA » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:48 pm

It is time to declare the MBTA insolvent, and place it in receivership. Not sure how the merger into the DOT would allow a seperate filing by the "T", but bankruptcy should allow them to terminate all pension plans, unilaterally cancel union contracts, and transfer their accumulated operating debts to the general fund.

I don't understand why the three subway lines, green line, and silver line can't cover their operating expenses. Fares should be increased, express tracks should be added, speeds should be increased, and driverless Automated Train Operation should be implemented on blue, red, and orange.

Commuter rail should be expected to break even, based on all seats being sold for 75% of the trip. Automatic doors should be implemented at high level platforms, conductors should use hand-held charlie card readers and/or scan at station with proof-of-payment reciept that displays void in a few hours. Speed should be increased, with more semi-express trains. Faster accelerating electric locomotives should be purchased for the Providence line. Full high level platforms should be installed on the Boston & Worcester line as far as Framingham. Budd RDC's should be repurchased for mid-day use. Electrification of Fairmont line and Boston-Framingham should be studied, conversion of Needham line to orange should be studied.

Special long articulated express buses should be used, with level boarding from fare-controlled enclosures. Dedicated HOV, bus lanes, or exclusive breakdown lane use should be made so that trips are fast and driver time and equipment aren't wasted. These should be expected to break even based on 85% of seats sold.

Local buses are always going to be..."loss leaders", and required feeders for rail services. Staff of schools whose students receive discounted fares & other tax exempt institutions where folks take public transportation should be impressed to monitor boarding and fare collection at major school stops, and audited and held responsible for compliance.

The less drastic plan for cutbacks from last year should be fully implemented. Fares in general should be increased; Monthly discounts should be reduced, $1.00 fee for a Charlie card. Some commuter rail rates are already too high, for example, $5.50 to travel 8.1 miles.

"The Ride" still needs to be heavily subsidized for everyone with infirmities making < $75K.

A surtax on the value of commercial property above the state average for similar property, located in downtown Boston, Back Bay, South End, Cambridge and any other area with parking restrictions near subway stations should be used to make up the rest of the deficit.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby sery2831 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:51 pm

While all these cost saving measures and streamlining are logical, it's not possible. With the debt in place, advancement of operations cannot be afforded. The debt needs to be erased first. The cuts and fare increases we are facing now is just to keep the wheels moving.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby MBTA3247 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:33 pm

BandA wrote:I don't understand why the three subway lines, green line, and silver line can't cover their operating expenses.

Public transit in general and passenger trains in particular are, by definition, unprofitable in the modern world.

Commuter rail should be expected to break even

No it shouldn't. See above.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby djlong » Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:06 am

Ummm...

How is all this supposed to break even while cutting fares and heaping who-knows-how-many BILLIONS of dollars to the price tag? Express lines in the subway? Ka-ching! ATO implementation? That means replacing the ENTIRE FLEET of Red, Blue and Orange line trains. Ka-ching! Level bus boarding? For how many stops? Ka-ching! Automatic commuter rail doors at high-level platforms? Replace the entire commuter rail fleet - Ka-ching!
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby CRail » Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:23 pm

BandA wrote:It is time to declare the MBTA insolvent, and place it in receivership. Not sure how the merger into the DOT would allow a seperate filing by the "T", but bankruptcy should allow them to terminate all pension plans, unilaterally cancel union contracts, and transfer their accumulated operating debts to the general fund.

I don't understand why the three subway lines, green line, and silver line can't cover their operating expenses. Fares should be increased, express tracks should be added, speeds should be increased, and driverless Automated Train Operation should be implemented on blue, red, and orange.

Commuter rail should be expected to break even, based on all seats being sold for 75% of the trip. Automatic doors should be implemented at high level platforms, conductors should use hand-held charlie card readers and/or scan at station with proof-of-payment reciept that displays void in a few hours. Speed should be increased, with more semi-express trains. Faster accelerating electric locomotives should be purchased for the Providence line. Full high level platforms should be installed on the Boston & Worcester line as far as Framingham. Budd RDC's should be repurchased for mid-day use. Electrification of Fairmont line and Boston-Framingham should be studied, conversion of Needham line to orange should be studied.

Special long articulated express buses should be used, with level boarding from fare-controlled enclosures. Dedicated HOV, bus lanes, or exclusive breakdown lane use should be made so that trips are fast and driver time and equipment aren't wasted. These should be expected to break even based on 85% of seats sold.

Local buses are always going to be..."loss leaders", and required feeders for rail services. Staff of schools whose students receive discounted fares & other tax exempt institutions where folks take public transportation should be impressed to monitor boarding and fare collection at major school stops, and audited and held responsible for compliance.

The less drastic plan for cutbacks from last year should be fully implemented. Fares in general should be increased; Monthly discounts should be reduced, $1.00 fee for a Charlie card. Some commuter rail rates are already too high, for example, $5.50 to travel 8.1 miles.

"The Ride" still needs to be heavily subsidized for everyone with infirmities making < $75K.

A surtax on the value of commercial property above the state average for similar property, located in downtown Boston, Back Bay, South End, Cambridge and any other area with parking restrictions near subway stations should be used to make up the rest of the deficit.

You propose to cut the least expensive resource (screwing over thousands of people who worked years to earn what they did) while spending probably over another billion for all of the projects, studies, and pretty significant capital purchases mentioned. I'd be more upset about your first idea if any of your following ones didn't prove that you hadn't a clue what you were talking about. Nowhere does public transit break even, it has been subsidized since before it was a public service. Cutting service will only decrease overall utilization, as will increasing fares eventually (service wasn't really cut last year, so there wasn't really a decline in ridership). Anyone making even $50K and up doesn't need the Ride to be heavily subsidized. Its utilization comes from far lower income residents than that. Driving up the cost of living in the city isn't the answer either.

How about the state be responsible for the debt it created with a major HIGHWAY project and stop expecting an agency they don't fund adequately to magically come up with those funds. The T isn't losing because it's mismanaged at its own level, its financial problems are completely at the state level. It's a utility for the lesser wealthy population and therefor uninteresting to the politicians and their heavy hitting constituents who don't need it.

The answer is for those who are affected by the lack of funding to turn up in numbers and demand funding for the services they rely on, not getting bludgeoned by higher costs while folks in their cars get a relatively free ride on their equally expensive infrastructure.
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Re: FY 2014 Transportation Plan and Fare Hikes Discussion

Postby Scott10690 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:03 pm

CRail is absolutely right!

The fiscal problems at the T are abundantly clear - a massive debt for a road project was put on the Authority by the state legislature in connection with a funding plan that made the MBTA reliant on the state's sales tax revenue. The state sales tax revenue went from nearly 7% annual growth in the 90s to about 1% annual growth in the 2000s. The lack of projected funding made the already enormous debt placed on the T by the legislature even more of a burden. This is why the T has been forced to make internal changes and reforms almost every year since the turn of the century. It's why we had massive fare hikes in 2000, 2004, 2007, 2012 and an increase in the sales tax in 2008. Its why the Authority has cut employee headcount, screwed employees and retirees on healthcare costs, raised rents on vendors, and spiked parking rates. The Authority has made reforms and the Authority has made cuts, but the Authority doesn't even have a spending problem to begin with. In 2009 the MBTA Advisory Board compiled a report detailing the T's fiscal situation. Revenues (both subsidies and SGR) for the T totaled just over $1.2 billion. Expenses, not including debt service, totaled just below $988 million. The T operates below budget but its excessive and unfair debt burden pushes the Authority deep into the red. Pointing the finger at employees, the size of the operation, or the type of equipment used is a waste of time - especially when the problems facing the Authority are clear as daylight.

2009 MBTA Advisory Board report "Born Broke"
http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/Docum ... _Broke.pdf

Brief explanation of the T's fiscal debt from "Unfare: How the T Became Broke" (4:26 - 7:32)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... rsQ#t=266s
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