An accessible and affordable MBTA system is crucial to Brookline residents and businesses. However, in an effort to balance their budget by April 15, 2012 MBTA officials are proposing service cuts and/or fare hikes and have scheduled public hearings in a number of Boston area communities through early March.
Although Brookline is a major financial supporter and user of the MBTA, the MBTA did not schedule an official hearing in Brookline. Therefore, the Selectmen, the Brookline COA (Council on Aging) and Brookline CAN (Brookline Community Aging Network) and our legislative representatives have scheduled their own hearings.
The first hearing, from 6-8 PM, Wednesday, February 29 in Brookline High School's Roberts Auditorium, 115 Greenough Street, Brookline, MA 2012, is sponsored by the Selectmen and our state legislators. A senior Mass DOT official will also be present to answer questions.
The second hearing, at 1 PM on Monday, March 5 at the Brookline Senior Center, 93 Winchester Street, is sponsored by the COA and Brookline CAN. Local legislators and Brian Kane, a budget and policy analyst for the MBTA Advisory Board, will attend to explain the issues and answer questions. (Please note that the MBTA Advisory Board is separate and independent of the MBTA and that Brian is not an employee of the MBTA.)
Both of these hearings are important opportunities for our local legislators to hear our concerns. Those most dependent on public transit - low income, seniors, and disabled - would be burdened the most by service cuts and fee hikes. And areas of South Brookline could lose access to the MBTA if the 51 and 60 buses are eliminated. We urge everyone to attend these vital meetings to voice concerns about the MBTA’s proposed service cuts and rate increases.
SEND POSTCARDS TO YOUR LEGISLATORS
A coalition of the Brookline Neighborhood Alliance, on whose executive board I have served some years, and the Town Meeting Member Green Caucus sponsored a postcard campaign table at Climate Week and will do so at the public hearing on February 29.
Alisa Jonas and I as members of the BNA Board and the TMM Green Caucus and Linda Pehlke as a member of the TMM Green Caucus and CCAB (Climate Change Action Brookline) wrote the text below for the postcards, which Alisa produced.
Below is the text of a postcard campaign sponsored by the BNA/CCAB during Climate Week.
"I am opposed to the MBTA’s proposed service cuts and excessive fare hikes. As a Brookline resident, I specifically oppose the elimination of the 60 and 51 bus routes, which provide the only public transportation for the areas serviced by these buses which eliminates public transportation for commuters connecting to the green line and commuter rail, students travelling to Brookline High School, patients of doctor’s offices on Route 9, employees of malls on Route 9, among other purposes.
While some moderate fare hikes may be appropriate, large price hikes will cause many to shift to cars. Severe price hikes for senior and disabled pass holders put a disproportionate burden on those on a fixed income, who are least able to afford it. Service cuts limit the mobility of those who are transit dependent and further induce passenger shifts to cars, undermining the Commonwealth’s commitment to improved air quality and GHG emission reductions. A comprehensive public transportation system also is integral to the health of the State’s economy, as a strong public transportation system supports access to jobs and services and attracts new business, workers and tourism.
We urge the MBTA and our representatives in the Legislature to seek other, long-term solutions to the MBTA debt burden, including other funding sources and improved efficiencies at the MBTA. The entire region’s economic and environmental health and equality of access depends on the success of the MBTA.
by Precinct 2 Town Meeting Member Diana Spiegel