archBOSTON.org

Go Back   archBOSTON.org > Boston's Built Environment > Transit and Infrastructure

Transit and Infrastructure All things T or civilly engineered within Boston Metro.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 03-08-2016, 05:08 AM   #4081
Matthew
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Cambridge, UK
Posts: 3,585
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Even the July 2014 fare increase was enough to inspire me to cancel my monthly pass. I only spent $200 on my CharlieCard in the subsequent year, rather than $900. The savings was more than enough to pay for my bike.
Matthew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 07:00 AM   #4082
JeffDowntown
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: South Cove
Posts: 2,397
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by TallIsGood View Post
They are different. One is a tax, one is a user fee. Plus a portion of the gas tax is used to fund the T (both federal and state).

Edit: Folks want the T to have more revenue, but object when revenue is raised. I can see the personal objection to paying more as no one likes it, but if the T needs money, why isn't this a good thing?
Gas Tax is effectively a user fee. It is a simple way to collect from road users (much easier than tolling everywhere).

Transit is also supported by this user fee, because every rider on transit is a car that is not on the road, reducing congestion and benefiting the road users (as well as the transit rider).
__________________
Jeff H.
Downtown, South Cove
JeffDowntown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 07:12 AM   #4083
commuter guy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 777
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

My commute from zone 3 commuter rail will be $19 per day round trip ($15 fare $4 parking). This is for a trip of approximately 12 miles as my station is very near rte 128. Maybe I'm just a cheapskate, but this just seems intolerably expensive for a short train commute
commuter guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 07:41 AM   #4084
bigeman312
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Jamaica Plain
Posts: 1,413
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by commuter guy View Post
My commute from zone 3 commuter rail will be $19 per day round trip ($15 fare $4 parking). This is for a trip of approximately 12 miles as my station is very near rte 128. Maybe I'm just a cheapskate, but this just seems intolerably expensive for a short train commute
It does seem absurdly expensive to me as well. I did a quick comparison of Zone 3 fares to comparable NYC trips, and the results were interesting. The fares were similar, if not slightly cheaper on the MBTA CR than NJ Transit, Metro-North, and LIRR. On the other hand, the monthly passes were more expensive on the MBTA CR than NJ Transit, Metro-North, and LIRR. That tells me that the MBTA should be discounting monthly passes greater.

My personal experience back this up, as well. I used to commute to work by the CR (Zone 1). The monthly pass was so expensive ($182, now becoming $200.25) for a trip that was only on the CR for less than 8 track miles. So, I've since switched to the Express Bus (with a monthly pass of $115, now becoming $128).
bigeman312 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 07:46 AM   #4085
datadyne007
Senior Member
 
datadyne007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Everett, MA
Posts: 8,140
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Commuter Rail zone adjustments are next on the agenda. They realize there is a problem with the zones, but it's unclear if they will actually make the right decisions to solve the problem. I'd bet on no.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeamusMcFly View Post
If it looks like a duck..... it's an office park.
datadyne007 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 07:57 AM   #4086
bigeman312
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Jamaica Plain
Posts: 1,413
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by datadyne007 View Post
Commuter Rail zone adjustments are next on the agenda. They realize there is a problem with the zones, but it's unclear if they will actually make the right decisions to solve the problem. I'd bet on no.
The first thing they need to is a complete analysis to determine which trains are overcrowded, and which trains are not. Then, they need to implement "peak" fares on "peak" trips, and discount the other trips. Zone 5 will be $9.25 after this increase. It would far better for everyone if peak fares were $10, while off-peak fares were $8.50.
bigeman312 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 07:58 AM   #4087
commuter guy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 777
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Commuter Rail in NY/NJ and MBTA are the outliers in the US. They both are much more expensive than say Chicago for similar distance traveled. Chicago Metra is about 50% of the cost of Boston area commuter rail and suburban parking is about 50% cheaper too. I think Commuter rail in San Francisco/San Jose and smaller systems elsewhere are cheaper.

As of few years ago, ridership was trending down for Boston commuter rail, bucking national trends for commuter rail, perhaps suggesting that fares have finally reached a point where commuters seek alternative modes including private cars. Recently, Boston's downtown economy is hot so maybe commuter rail ridership is now ticking back up but I'd bet ridership would be substantially greater if fares were more reasonable.
commuter guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 08:29 AM   #4088
bigeman312
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Jamaica Plain
Posts: 1,413
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by commuter guy View Post
...Commuter Rail in NY/NJ and MBTA are the outliers in the US. They both are much more expensive than say Chicago for similar distance traveled. Chicago Metra is about 50% of the cost of Boston area commuter rail and suburban parking is about 50% cheaper too...
Wow. You're right. While not quite as extreme as 50%, Metra is way cheaper than MBTA CR. For what is almost exactly equivalent to our Zone 3, their Zone C is $5/trip, $44.50/10-ride, $138/month. Compare that to MBTA CR at $7.50/trip, $75/10-ride, $244.25/month.
bigeman312 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 08:40 AM   #4089
Justin7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,297
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Yay, more cars!
__________________
"You cannot take in a whole Boston street with a single glance of the eye and then lose your interest because you have thus taken the edge off future discovery; on the contrary, every step reveals some portion of a building which you could not see before, some change in your vista, and some suggestion of pleasant variety yet to come, which not only keeps your interest alive but heightens it and persuades you to go on."
Justin7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 08:50 AM   #4090
bolehboleh
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Posts: 380
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

If I'm not mistaken, all of the NY commuter lines (Metro North, LIRR, NJ Rail) do not include subway/bus transit in their monthly passes like the MBTA pass does.
bolehboleh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 11:52 AM   #4091
whighlander
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Lexington
Posts: 6,519
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

COMMMON -- we're talking 15 cents per ride -- out of $2+ this ain't Charlie on the MTA -- buy one Starbucks Regular Tall instead of a Venti Mochaccino per week and you've made up the difference
whighlander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 12:01 PM   #4092
bigeman312
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Jamaica Plain
Posts: 1,413
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by whighlander View Post
COMMMON -- we're talking 15 cents per ride -- out of $2+ this ain't Charlie on the MTA -- buy one Starbucks Regular Tall instead of a Venti Mochaccino per week and you've made up the difference
I'll whigh-splain you.

---------------------------

whigh --- Huh? A 9% increase in transportation costs matters to many people. You know math well enough to know that the compound effect of these fare increases is much more of a factor than one single increase. Rather, the trend is the problem. If fares increase 9% once every two years, a decade later you are looking at a 54% increase, and a 137% increase over twenty years. Don't trivialize the fare raises by simply taking one, small data point that detracts from the overall reality.

Maybe if I put this in context of driving, you will get it: Imagine gas prices increase 1% per week. Well, next week you are paying $2.09/gallon instead of $2.07. Not a big deal. Sure, just buy a different drink at Starbucks or whatever. But, in a year you are paying $3.47/gallon and in two years you are paying $5.83/gallon. None of these weeks had a major change in gas prices. But to boil the issue down to that single data point is either ignorance or purposefully disingenuous.

The fact remains, these fare increases are well out-pacing inflation, and they are taking their toll. The cost is making mass transit a less competitive option. That is bad for our city, that is bad for the environment, that is even bad for drivers. Everyone loses when our mass transit is non-competitive.
bigeman312 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 12:05 PM   #4093
datadyne007
Senior Member
 
datadyne007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Everett, MA
Posts: 8,140
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeman312 View Post
I'll whigh-splain you.

---------------------------

whigh --- Huh? A 9% increase in transportation costs matters to many people. You know math well enough to know that the compound effect of these fare increases is much more of a factor than one single increase. Rather, the trend is the problem. If fares increase 9% once every two years, a decade later you are looking at a 54% increase, and a 137% increase over twenty years. Don't trivialize the fare raises by simply taking one, small data point that detracts from the overall reality.

Maybe if I put this in context of driving, you will get it: Imagine gas prices increase 1% per month. Well, next month you are paying $2.09/gallon instead of $2.07. Not a big deal. Sure, just buy a different drink at Starbucks or whatever. But, in a year you are paying $3.47/gallon and in two years you are paying $5.83/gallon. None of these weeks had a major change in gas prices. But to boil the issue down to that single data point is either ignorance or purposefully disingenuous.

The fact remains, these fare increases are taking their toll, and the cost is beginning to make mass transit a less competitive option. That is bad for our city, that is bad for the environment, that is even bad for drivers. Everyone loses when our mass transit is non-competitive.
This is the practical economic rebuttal. Good stuff.

The social/compassionate rebuttal is that some lower income people would kill to be in a position where all they had to do was not buy a Starbucks Frappuccino. Instead, what they have to decide not to buy is dinner for themselves or most importantly, their children, one night as they struggle to buy a box of Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeamusMcFly View Post
If it looks like a duck..... it's an office park.
datadyne007 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 12:33 PM   #4094
JumboBuc
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Camberville
Posts: 1,399
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Unpopular opinion alert:

I don't find the fare increase to be a very big deal. The T is still, by far, the cheapest non-human-powered way to get around. Relative to other comparable cities, 85 bucks for an unlimited pass is still pretty damn cheap (the Commuter Rail is another story).

I get much more worked up over service cuts, mis-management, deferred maintenance, and cancelled expansion than I do over fare increases that slightly outpace inflation.

If these fare increases make the T unaffordable for low income riders, then come up with some solutions to address that. Institute some form of means testing. Send free or discounted passes home with students at Boston Public Schools to give to their parents. Allow stores in low income neighborhoods to sell passes below face value, within limits. But don't make everyone pay less because some have trouble paying more. I can't help but roll my eyes every time I hear someone making solid, upper-middle class wages complain that their monthly T pass goes up 10 bucks every two years, especially when they're saving about 30% to begin with by having the cost subtracted from their paychecks pre-tax (something the poor usually can't do).

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeman312 View Post
I'll whigh-splain you.

---------------------------

whigh --- Huh? A 9% increase in transportation costs matters to many people. You know math well enough to know that the compound effect of these fare increases is much more of a factor than one single increase. Rather, the trend is the problem. If fares increase 9% once every two years, a decade later you are looking at a 54% increase, and a 137% increase over twenty years. Don't trivialize the fare raises by simply taking one, small data point that detracts from the overall reality.

Maybe if I put this in context of driving, you will get it: Imagine gas prices increase 1% per week. Well, next week you are paying $2.09/gallon instead of $2.07. Not a big deal. Sure, just buy a different drink at Starbucks or whatever. But, in a year you are paying $3.47/gallon and in two years you are paying $5.83/gallon. None of these weeks had a major change in gas prices. But to boil the issue down to that single data point is either ignorance or purposefully disingenuous.

The fact remains, these fare increases are well out-pacing inflation, and they are taking their toll. The cost is making mass transit a less competitive option. That is bad for our city, that is bad for the environment, that is even bad for drivers. Everyone loses when our mass transit is non-competitive.
Right, but we're not talking about a price increase of 1% per week. That would be ridiculous. 1% per week is equal to about 181% every two years. We're talking about 9% every two years, so about 0.083% per week. So, using your analogy, if gas costs $2/gallon today it will be $2.18 in two years, $2.38 in four years, and $2.59 in six years. That doesn't seem so unreasonable...

Last edited by JumboBuc; 03-08-2016 at 12:43 PM.
JumboBuc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 12:35 PM   #4095
West
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 732
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by datadyne007 View Post
This is the practical economic rebuttal. Good stuff.

The social/compassionate rebuttal is that some lower income people would kill to be in a position where all they had to do was not buy a Starbucks Frappuccino. Instead, what they have to decide not to buy is dinner for themselves or most importantly, their children, one night as they struggle to buy a box of Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese.
THIS.

I am fortunate enough to be doing very well in life, and I have the additional fortune of being on the D branch of the Green Line. Commuter rail like distances from downtown but with subway frequencies and fare level. And they've done enough maintenance and car replacements that it at least made it through last winter with far less disastrous performance than most other lines.

With my income and the cost of driving / parking alternatives, the T could double my fare and I'd still be taking the T and the impact to my household budget would be negligible. I can't be arsed to even calculate it.

But when I was in my 20s my life was a whole lot different. A 9% increase in transit costs at any given time would have hurt like hell. And yes, I was riding transit in my 20s, different metro area, but I do recall that when the fare increases would hit it was not something I could just shrug off. And although my life was a whole lot different then than now, economically, I was never truly poor. One didn't need to be truly poor to have transit fare increases be a noticeable impact, and that's still true today.

My memory is good enough that I have no patience for the "just buy less other stuff" reaction to fare increases, even though it'd be a completely fair reaction if it were me complaining about the increases on my own behalf (which I'm not).
West is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 01:10 PM   #4096
commuter guy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 777
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

My comments pertain to commuter rail, it has been mentioned NYC area commuter rail is on par with MBTA comm. Rail fares. However, the difference between here and NYC is that when transportation needs money in NY they raise tunnel and bridge tolls as well as transit fares. Here, Charlie Baker wouldn't dream of pushing an more transportation revenue by raising the the gas tax or the $1.25 toll at allston/brighton. The lack of parity here is what is what amounts to such poor transportation planning
commuter guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 01:14 PM   #4097
Equilibria
Senior Member
 
Equilibria's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 2,773
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by West View Post
With my income and the cost of driving / parking alternatives, the T could double my fare and I'd still be taking the T and the impact to my household budget would be negligible. I can't be arsed to even calculate it.
Yes, but THIS.

There are many people on low incomes who ride the T, and there are many people on higher incomes who ride the T (I, like you, am in the latter category). The fact that not everyone can absorb a fare increase doesn't mean that the people who can shouldn't have to pay the costs of their transportation, it means that we need an intelligent fare system that accounts for the fact that the MBTA isn't the mode-of-last-resort in 2016.

Personally, I don't care how much the T charges me - I care how they spend the money. A lock-box approach isn't good enough. The MBTA needs a ten-year vision plan (NOT a capital or work plan) that justifies the additional money by committing the agency to spending it on certain things (I'm not sure how you get the MBTA to commit to anything, seeing as they can't even keep their court-ordered obligations, but whatever). Just saying "we'll address the maintenance gap" is worthless. What maintenance will you do? When will you do it? What makes it worth my money? Can I get more for my money by buying new stuff that will last longer, instead of just fixing the old stuff?

Hurt needs to be worth it. If it is, then it's fine.

This is BASIC planning, and Massachusetts simply can't ever do it, because it's politically advantageous to keep things ambiguous and not commit to any targets, playing dissatisfaction into populism to keep your approval ratings high. It's the same thing with the GLX cuts - you're supposed to set a budget, itemize the costs of amenities, and cut until you hit the mark. Charlie's way is to just dump the hurt on people and play their complaints off with anger at his own employees ("I'm pissed off at the MBTA too. I KNOW, right?!").
Equilibria is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 02:01 PM   #4098
West
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 732
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

^^

Fair enough, and well stated.
West is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 02:22 PM   #4099
West
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 732
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibria View Post

There are many people on low incomes who ride the T, and there are many people on higher incomes who ride the T (I, like you, am in the latter category). The fact that not everyone can absorb a fare increase doesn't mean that the people who can shouldn't have to pay the costs of their transportation, it means that we need an intelligent fare system that accounts for the fact that the MBTA isn't the mode-of-last-resort in 2016.
And this especially is spot on. The divergence of T constituencies is enormous. I can even see it just on the opposite sides of the D line commute every day. The folks riding outbound in the morning (and those trains are far from empty) are mostly workers at the many retail shops in the various Green Line oriented Newton town centers, or staff at Newton Wellesley Hospital, or they're heading out to one of the bus lines radiating from Riverside. I am generalizing to say this, but it is clearly true that the riders heading inbound in the morning are of higher average income. Just looking at what coats people are wearing in the winter makes this glaringly obvious.

And then of course there are the exceptions: some folks who ride in with me each day are clearly struggling. Not everyone in Newton is a high earner, there are pockets of low income folks tucked in the noisy apartments along route 9, commuting into town along with us finance types. And I'm sure a few frugal doctors commute out to the N-W hospital from Brookline. So making the fare structure fair couldn't even be done with a simple reverse commute fare differential (though the suggestions above about adjusting fares by demand times have merit).

There really are a ton of people for whom the T is the commute of last resort, and who are getting screwed financially along with getting screwed on service standards. And then there are folks like me for whom the T is an option, and a damned good one insofar as commute hassles are concerned (compared to driving / parking), and a good one financially. We're only getting screwed on service standards (and even that's not as terrible on the D any more, relative to the early aughts or the current Red Line).

I struggle with this all the time when trying to figure out how we get this polity to remove collective head from collective ass. Plenty of blame to Baker and DeLeo and so on, but they didn't fall out of the sky. This wild divergence between who uses the T and why and how it impacts their wallet is a part of it.
West is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2016, 02:52 PM   #4100
bigeman312
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Jamaica Plain
Posts: 1,413
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

I agree with everything posted in the last seven posts (including calling out my hyperbole, which was used for effect to show whigh that he was focusing on the wrong aspect of fare increases). This is the discussion that needs to take place in relation to fare increases!

There is a problem that low-income users feel fare increases with great severity. I believe the solution to this problem is to move away (as much as possible) from financing the MBTA through fare revenue. As it stands now, fare revenue is only a portion of the MBTA's funding. This portion is paid equally by riders of all incomes. If this portion were smaller, and the T was funded more through dedicated tax revenue (which is paid more by wealthier people, even without progressive tax policies), this would alleviate the problem greatly. This is a solution which does not discourage the wealthy from using mass transit (as income-based fares would). Taxes are never popular, and this would be especially unpopular with those who live in the western part of the state. The solution to that, in my opinion, would be to move towards more regional funding, as opposed to statewide funding.
bigeman312 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
A discussion regarding Chinatown commuter guy Boston Architecture & Urbanism 31 05-07-2016 06:30 AM
MBTA thread(s) cleanup Arlington Board Issues and Announcements 2 03-12-2015 06:46 PM
General RER-type service thread BostonUrbEx Transit and Infrastructure 26 11-22-2014 02:16 PM
General Real Estate/Rental Discussion BostonUrbEx Boston Architecture & Urbanism 5 04-16-2012 02:46 PM
aB Awards General Discussion statler 2008 Awards Nominations & Discussion 10 02-18-2009 06:40 AM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:24 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.