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Potential Boston T party brewing: Council to look at withholding annual payment to MBTA until service improves

The Boston City Council agreed today to look at withholding the more than $85 million the city coughs up for T service every year until the T can meet performance guidelines that would be set after public hearings across the city.

Councilor Althea Garrison (at large) proposed the hearing because, she said, the T is looking at increasing fares for a system that she said remains biased in favor of richer suburbs instead of poor urban neighborhoods, in particular in Boston.

Garrison's proposal won the quick approval of Councilor Michelle Wu (at large), who has been visiting T stations of late to collect signatures against the fare increase, now scheduled to go into effect this summer. The fare increase is "regressive, backwards for so many reasons," including the potential to increase car traffic and its resultant pollution, she said.

Councilors Frank Baker, Lydia Edwards, Annissa Essaibi-George, Ed Flynn, Kim Janey, Josh Zakim, Andrea Campbell and Wu signed on as co-sponsors of the measure.

Campbell said she would forward the measure to the council's committee on planning, development and transportation, which Wu chairs, to consider alongside measures Wu has proposed to force better service out of the T.

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Comments

The city could do their part by building more than one bus lane, keeping bus stops clear, enforcing double parking, etc.

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Voting closed 44

And the police need to actually keep people out of the bus lanes. The ones in Chinatown might as well not exist.

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Enforcement means more than just ticketing, too. A friendly, uniformed individual, politely directing motorists to clear the lane, would be quite effective. Sounds like low hanging fruit.

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for your police detail? How 'bout cameras pal

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This doesn't excuse breaking the law, but IMO a lane for a bus that only runs every 12 minutes seems inefficient. Would it really carry more people per hour than a general lane?

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Right?

You might want to look up the studies done on these bus lanes, as well as the trial runs.

Because this isn't something that some planner just pulled out of his or her pants.

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City Record February 25, 2019 Vol. 111 No. 8 City of Boston Mayor, City Council President https://www.boston.gov/departments/procurement

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Boston will not get the performance results they desire until the state leadership changes.

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Voting closed 25

Pollack has been surprisingly moved by smart public advocacy. Not saying she's the perfect leader, but who should replace her?

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Take your pick. All of them have more transportation experience. Pollack has "DeVos experience". A rich donor who likes to play leader. The recent transport decisions are empty PR. Move a project from one fake column to another fake column. Pick a highway project that doesn't work from an engineering standpoint. It's time for a change.

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Voting closed 6

How about withholding funds for street plowing until Boston drivers go one week without killing or seriously injuring someone? How about charging more than $0 for the billions in hand outs Boston drivers get via free street parking?

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Voting closed 34

T buses run on those very streets.

Someone hates bus riders.

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Voting closed 26

It has been a long while since a poorly driven T bus killed somebody.

Buses will run faster if private cars are banned for those without disabilities.

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Without plowed streets, buses may very well kill people, wouldn't you agree?

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Voting closed 9

If the roads aren't plowed, then it would be too dangerous to allow buses to run, wouldn't you agree?

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So you agree the streets shouldn't be plowed?

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He says that the streets shouldn’t be plowed after snow storms until there are no more fatal vehicle crashes.

Also, someone being killed by a T bus is not as distant an incident as you might think.

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Ambulances and fire trucks.

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Pretty sure more pedestrians and bikers would be in danger with unplowed streets.

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Voting closed 26

Great idea! Then we can call ourselves one of those shithole cities like your idol Trump does!

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Voting closed 8

Given that city residents paid $52 million in motor vehicle excise taxes to the city in FY17, that street parking isn't a hand-out. And street plowing is necessary for emergency vehicles, school buses, the MBTA, delivery vehicles, transporting the disabled, construction vehicles, service providers, etc.

The City doesn't spend anywhere near "billions" annually on drivers. The City's budget for the streets cabinet in 2019 is about $240 million -- but that also includes services like trash collection and street cleaning, as well as the city's own vehicle fleet, street lighting, and improvements that benefit pedestrians and cyclists.

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Voting closed 15

the fact that the city of boston pays the administrative overhead - staff, mailing, enforcement - for resident parking without charging at least a NOMINAL fee to cover those costs means it's a handout. excise tax goes to road maintenance not parking costs. its' ridiculous that the city gives them out for free, when cambridge/somerville have shown that charging a nominal fee works EXTREMELY well. but then, somerville also has a very functional guest parking program, which boston still can't figure the fuck out, so I don't know why I'm surprised.

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Voting closed 7

Did you pay $4,680 in excise taxes? That's how much it would cost to leave a car in a metered space 24/7.

Of course you didn't. Of course, your excise tax also goes towards many other service and maintenance needs for the road.

Spare me the claim that you've paid enough for parking.

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Voting closed 9

Has exactly zero to do with the cost of providing that space. It's just a revenue generator for the city as well as a way to encourage turnover in spaces. And in areas like Beacon Hill and the Back Bay, some resident spaces turn into metered spaces during the day and that resident sticker doesn't exempt the car's owner from feeding the meter or observing the two-hour limit.

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The price of metered parking [h]as exactly zero to do with the cost of providing that space.

Right, because it's heavily subsidized (and good luck trying to raise it without drivers throwing a fit). Look at the price of private parking around these areas - that's a lot closer to what the city should be charging for these spaces if it actually charged people for how much they're worth and cost to maintain.

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Look at the prices to keep a car parked in a private space 24/7 and compare the difference. Drivers are getting a huge value in free or cheap parking for the tiny amount they pay in excise taxes.

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If the T becomes free to ride and Boston withholds payments what's the plan to maintain and repair the T infrastructure? I'm not sure I see how squeezing future revenue, threatening/actually withholding current revenue and then telling the T to go fix things is going to work.

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The T would need to raise rates to offset the amount correct? (or fire some people/cut costs and routes)

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I'd bet there's a decent chunk of the people in charge of these things who would just take a loss of funding as an excuse to cut services. Feels like this could easily just lead to a death spiral in terms of "can't meet performance guidelines, loses money, so cuts services so it's even more unlikely to meet performance guidelines". How about removing money from some other bucket, or even better, offer additional funding if the MBTA is able to improve services?

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Does this mean that the citizens of Mass who don’t ride the T or see any other benefit from it withhold their $0.01 per $1 of the sales tax that they pay? I doubt it.

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Lets have a special holiday where T users all drive into work and are allowed to leave their cars wherever they please to park them.

But we already know that you can't seem to bother doing basic math even if you can point at numbers.

Also, lets take a quick lesson on where that money goes: HINT - it does not all go to the MBTA! It ends up all over the State!

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Voting closed 24

Ok thats fine, we can keep it at $0.01 for western Mass. Then based on the rules of diminishing returns of investment based on distance, people inside I495 can pay $0.02, inside I95 $0.03 and in Boston you can pay $0.04. You benefit the most, you pay the most.
Time to start paying your "fare" share.

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Voting closed 6

subsidizes the rest of the state. stop crying, or maybe we will start withholding money for worcester and berkshire counties.

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Now let Western Mass pay back that $50 million tab for repairs after Hurricane Irene.

And pay for all the stupid little roads that the towns won't pave that serve six people.

Fair is fare.

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The T helps the economy of Boston, and the economy of Boston drives the economy of the state and subsidizes the western part of the state.

As soon as the rest of the state isn't subsidized by the Boston economy, we can talk.

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I pay into state sales, excise, and income tax, which nominally should fund public K-12 education for every state resident. It doesn’t seem to have helped you.

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>implying that western mass wouldn't be Cow Hampshire 2.0 without Boston's economic success being funneled into subsidizing that whole bumfuck area.

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Sure, I hate the T and think the entire system is broken as much as anyone, but this is not a good idea.

Withholding funds is not going to increase performance, instead the state will just use it as an excuse to further cut service.

"Since Boston is withholding funds, we will be cutting X + Y bus routes, and reducing service on line Z."
"That project that we semi-committed to doing by 2050 will now take until 2150."

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Perhaps the MBTA can make a constructive response here: dear Boston, this is the budget, this is what your funds are earmarked for, here's the potential impact of your spending or withholding. Now, Boston, instead of taking your toys and driving home, do you want to give your feedback?

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Why doesn't the City Council lead a blockade of the parking garage on Beacon Hill?

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My Property Tax until the schools improve? They're worse than the T.

Also, couldn't the T turn around and refuse passes for students? A bunch of geniuses down at city hall....

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Voting closed 20

Lets withhold their pay until they do their job.

This proposal proves how useless they are.

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“a system that she said remains biased in favor of richer suburbs instead of poor urban neighborhoods, in particular in Boston.”

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I doubt I'd be going too far out on a limb to suggest she's comparing things like the proposal to build a new commuter-rail line to New Bedford with the bus service that people in parts of Dorchester and Mattapan have to rely on.

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Fairmount line? I take it regularly and the (100s) millions they’ve spent would exceed our lifetime to pay for itself.

Not to mention the vandalism at station on said line.

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Everyone knows that. Although I agree we shouldn't spend billions to bring rail service to another city that will then balk at the fare, and also insist they should get a free ride in the name of Social Justice.

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Do you think Mattapan needs a commuter rail Adam?

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Of course, one could also ask if Wellesley and West Roxbury need three commuter-rail stations each.

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Beverly, MA has 5 commuter rail stations.

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Are they expecting us (perceived-as) rich suburbanites to pay a greater proportion of the T's budget, or are they trying to keep fares low enough and/or service good enough that we don't climb into our cars and drive in on our worst-in-the-nation congested roads during rush hours? (Or do they actually want both, and don't see this as a tradeoff?)

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Then what happens when the T stops service in Boston due to nonpayment?

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This strikes me as a chicken and egg situation.

Do they need to make it better before getting the money?

Or

Do they need the money to make it better?

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What is Baker doing for the MBTA besides making it lose money? The public and legislators should be pressuring him to increase funging to the mbta. It’s a public agency. It’s equally important as healthcare and education.

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FYI: Baker is trying to reform how the T does business before perhaps finding more money for it. Given that the state budget is stuck in a structural deficit modality, such is about the only viable option. Plus, throwing money at a problem withouf also fixing the casual problems is usually money wasted.

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For some funny reason, I doubt the City of Boston or any other MBTA payment paying communities can hold up paying their assessments to the T.

Also, at the end of the day all of the moaning and groaning is over a basically but rate of inflation increase. Nice photo op opportunity, however.

While I expect to suffer slings, arrows and worse on the later point, at the end of the day a but rate of inflation increase is not unreasonable.

Plus, the far bigger elephant in the room is that it is well past time to address the T's seriously underfunded employee pension fund.

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