The MBTA is telling all of us that services will remain intact, entirely without cuts, if fares can go up by 25%.
At first blush, this sounds much better than Draconian cuts that would have affected all public transit users in Boston’s neighborhoods and the cities and towns served by the MBTA in the Greater Boston nexus.
However, when you think out the situation clearly, you come to understand that this 25% rise in fares won’t be the last and that without dramatic systemic changes in how the MBTA runs itself, we should all prepare ourselves for a series of fair increases before this decade is at an end.
The MBTA has spent itself into near insolvency through a combination of mismanagement, endemic waste, over-financing and by paying wages, health insurance and pensions that are clearly, incontestably unsustainable.
In fact, MBTA wages and pensions need a wholesale change or literally nothing is going to help it out of the bad money pit which it is wallowing in.
Also in need of change is the MBTA’s debt load. Everything about it is worse than the US car industry was when it went bankrupt in 2007.
If only the MBTA could have gone bankrupt then it would have already renegotiated all its public and private debt, something it will absolutely need to do if anything about its sustainability is going to change.
Raising the fares 25% is, frankly, an outrage.
It is an outrage for those of us who use public transport and who rely on public transport in place of an automobile.
Ridership is at its highest point ever and yet the debts accrued by the MBTA everyday are rising at a much faster pace than ridership.
Until this inequity ends, until the leadership of the MBTA and state officials step in to reorganize its debt and requirements that cannot be met, nothing is going to change except for the fare.