Your Thoughts: Fare Hikes, Maybe Bus Eliminations Coming to Somerville

Under one proposal, Somerville could lose some bus service. What do you think of the MBTA's plans close a $161 million budget deficit?

With a projected $161 million deficit for the next fiscal year, the MBTA on Tuesday announced plans to raise fares and cut services to deal with the budget shortfall.

The transit authority presented two proposals, both of which would raise the cost of taking the T for passengers while reducing transit options.

One of the proposals, called "scenario 1" in a report issued by the MBTA, relies more heavily on fare increases to balance the budget, while the other proposal, "scenario 2," relies more on cuts to service—both proposals increase fares and cut service to some degree.

Under "scenario 2," Somerville would face service cuts to at least six bus lines.

Cuts to bus service in Somerville

In one of the scenarios designed to close the transit authority's budget shortfall—"scenario 2"—the MBTA would cut 101 weekday bus routes, 69 Saturday routes and 50 Sunday bus routes.

As part of that proposal, the MBTA would make cuts and reductions to at least six bus routes that serve Somerville:

Bus 80: Serves Tufts University, Ball Square, Winter Hill, and McGrath Highway. Under the MBTA's "scenario 2," this route would be eliminated.

Bus 85: Serves Spring Hill and Union Square in Somerville on its way to Kendall/MIT Station. Under the MBTA's "scenario 2," this route would be eliminated on weekdays.

Bus 90: Serves Davis Square, Highland Avenue and East Somerville on its way to Sullivan Station and Wellington Station. Under "scenario 2," this route would be completely eliminated.

Bus 92: Serves the Assembly Square Mall area and heads into downtown Boston. Under "scenario 2," service would be eliminated on weekdays and Saturday.

Bus 95: Serves the Ten Hills neighborhood along Mystic Avenue and connects Medford to Sullivan Station. Under the proposal, this route would be eliminated.

Bus 96: Serves Tufts University, College Avenue and Davis Square on its way to Harvard Square. Under the proposal, this route would be eliminated.

Under the MBTA's "scenario 1," Somerville would not face reductions to bus service.

Other service cuts

The MBTA would not make significant cuts to subway service, although it calls for the elimination of weekend service on the Green Line's E branch and on the Mattapan High-Speed Line.

Under both of the scenarios presented by the transit authority, the MBTA would eliminate Commuter Rail service on weekends and on weeknights after 10 p.m. Ferry service would also be eliminated.

Fare increases

One thing is certain: Passengers will have to pay more to ride the T in the upcoming year. Fare increases are part of both scenarios proposed by the MBTA.

At the moment, it costs $1.50 to ride a bus and $2 to ride the subway with a Charlie Ticket, designed for infrequent users of the T. For those with Charlie Card, designed for those who ride the T regularly, it costs $1.25 to ride the bus and $1.70 to ride the subway.

A monthly bus pass costs $40, and a Link Pass, which allows holders to ride the bus and subway, costs $59.

Fares under the MBTA's "scenario 1" would be as follows:

  • Bus: $2.25 with Charlie Ticket, $1.75 with Charlie Card
  • Subway: $3 with Charlie Ticket, $2.40 with Charlie Card
  • Bus pass: $55
  • Link Pass: $80  
  • Fares under the MBTA's "scenario 2" would be as follows:

    • Bus: $2 with Charlie Ticket, $1.50 with Charlie Card
    • Subway: $3 with Charlie Ticket, $2.25 with Charlie Card
    • Bus pass: $48
    • Link Pass: $78

    Seniors and students
    In addition, fares for seniors and students also increase under both proposals. Monthly passes for students and seniors would be $40 under "scenario 1" and $39 under "scenario 2." They're currently $20.

    For seniors, riding the bus currently costs $0.40. Under "scenario 1," that price would jump to $1.10, and under "scenario 2" it would cost $0.75. The cost of the subway is currently $0.60 for seniors. It would be $1.50 under "scenario 1" and $1.10 under "scenario 2."

    Students currently pay $0.60 to ride the bus and $0.85 for the subway. Under "scenario 1," those numbers would be $1.10 and $1.50, respectively. Under "scenario 2," the costs would be $0.75 and $1.10.

    Public meeting

    The MBTA is seeking feedback on its proposals. In Somerville, a public meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Somerville High School auditorium.

    Read the MBTA's full report on fare increases and service reductions here.

    Amanda Kersey January 04, 2012 at 01:51 PM
    I'm surprised how severe the cuts to bus lines in Somerville could be. Without the Bus 80, I wouldn't be able to get from my Winter Hill apartment to the Whole Foods in Medford in the middle of a snowstorm or a freezing cold day, when I'll need that service the most. It's a long walk to Market Basket or Sherman Market from here.
    merrill January 04, 2012 at 03:20 PM
    It is misleading to say that Bus Route 85 would be eliminated on weekdays. Since it does not run on weekends or holidays, that action would eliminate the route entirely.
    Amanda Kersey January 04, 2012 at 03:25 PM
    Thanks for pointing that out. I just checked on the MBTA's website, and it's true that Bus 85 doesn't run on weekends or holidays.
    Chris Orchard (Editor) January 04, 2012 at 04:24 PM
    Good point, Merrill.
    Chris Orchard (Editor) January 04, 2012 at 04:28 PM
    If anyone's interested in learning a bit more about why the T can't pay it's bills, Boston Magazine has some interesting articles, published last February. http://www.bostonmagazine.com/boston/is_the_mbta_safe_to_ride Of interest are, "Why the MBTA is broke" (http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/why_the_mbta_is_broke/page1) and "How to fix the MBTA" (http://www.bostonmagazine.com/how_to_fix_the_mbta/index.html?&slide_jump=8)
    Brian S Paskin January 04, 2012 at 07:13 PM
    Yikes, I would rather that the T raise the prices and offer bigger discounts to students and the elderly. They should also offer better deals for a monthly pass and start offering a yearly pass. If we want these public services, then we need to pay for them.
    Warren Dew January 04, 2012 at 08:46 PM
    The scenario 2 price increases are in my opinion not unreasonable given there have been no fare increases for 4 years. I'm not familiar with the specific bus routes, but I do see a lot of nearly empty buses, which can't be efficient to run. The number of cuts does seem fairly draconian. I think it was an error to tie T financing to the sales tax. It should be tied to the gasoline tax, and the gasoline tax increased; the money has to come from somewhere. Unfortunately the T can't do that without the governor.
    Mimi Graney January 04, 2012 at 08:57 PM
    Some of these cuts are particularly detrimental to Somerville. The #85 is a key line connecting Union Square to MIT and Kendall Square. As we seek to build the economic base here -- that link is important. And the #95, that's vital for the folks at Ten Hills and at Mystic to get to Sullivan Sq. Somerville has a significantly lower level of car ownership and that's facilitated by public transit. Especially in light of the Greenline delays, eliminating bus service is counter to the pedestrian oriented city we're building.
    Angel Ryan January 04, 2012 at 09:20 PM
    Gee why not make it a little harder for me to get home from work, The 90 bus, And lets charge her more to figure out how to get there, Thanks M.B.T.A.
    Jodie Dow-Novaes January 05, 2012 at 12:42 PM
    if more people than ever are riding the T, why is it in such big financial trouble? also, what are people supposed to do who ride the routes to be eliminated? couldn't the T just have less frequent service on those lines? and for people on fixed incomes (elderly) dou bling the fare seems unreasonable and may mean those people can't go places.
    Chris Orchard (Editor) January 05, 2012 at 03:24 PM
    The links pasted above describe some of the reasons the T is in such financial trouble, and it's not really the MBTA's fault; the authority doesn't receive the financial support it needs from the state—because the T is meant to be a service, allowing for the efficient movement of people in New England's most important economic center. Boston is the 10th largest metro area in the country (ahead of San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle and San Diego, to name some others); it serves 175 of the 350-some-odd communities in Massachusetts, and 70 percent of the state's population. If the MBTA isn't perceived as vital to the economic vitality of Massachusetts, I don't know what is. Sorry for this rare outburst of opinion.
    Matt January 05, 2012 at 03:39 PM
    The problem is funding, plain and simple. Sadly I don't see our elected officials having the will or political power to find the source of revenue (eg new taxes) that the T needs.
    Karen January 05, 2012 at 03:44 PM
    It's amazing that these service cut proposals are all about the T ridership shouldering the burden of the inadequate "Forward Funding" budget scheme the T is still saddled with from the State legislature back in 2000. And saddled with Big Dig debt. They should be pursuing that the current State legislature revisit and fix the unding situation. (Several studies have been published on this predicament in the last couple of years.) It's ridiculous to contemplate such massive reduction in service with a band-aid approach, at a time more people should be encouraged to use public transportation and not be cut off from it.
    A. January 05, 2012 at 04:13 PM
    Right now, I can commute Medford Square to Harvard Square on a monthly bus pass. If the 96 is canceled, then I have to take the 94 to Davis then the Red Line two stops, meaning I'll need a combo pass instead, meaning not only a rate hike but a need to pay for a higher tier of service for me and the other folks filling the 96 up going to and coming from work... and the same applies to going to/from Porter for grocery shopping. Medford and Somerville need *more* T options, not fewer! The Big Dig blew it with throwing all that money at roads; no North-South rail connector, no Green Line Extension, just more crap for cars... how about putting a chunk of that towards the more responsible commuters?
    Allie Morse January 06, 2012 at 01:05 AM
    This is horrifying. Eliminating service to some of the communities that need it most? I just put down a deposit for an apartment a few blocks from the 96. There are no alternative routes in the area. I'm mildly disabled following treatment for cancer and cannot walk the mile and a half from my new apartment to Davis. While I do have a car and commute to the suburbs, I chose to live where I like to live my life. With these changes, I might as well live out in Waltham and pay less in rent because I'm going to have to hop in my car anyway. Is Somerville and the Greater Boston area going to make parking easier since they are effectively forcing us to drive into the city?
    Abbe January 06, 2012 at 03:05 AM
    Yikes! This is awful, and makes it even harder to connect East and West Somerville which are already not well-connected to one another by transit. We've been quite regularly commuting from the Tufts area to my daughter's school in Winter Hill using the bus. The 89 is the route that serves this best and thank goodness it's not on the chopping block - we've got another 12.5 years of sending kids to this school ahead of us! But runners up #1 and #2 are the 80 and the 101, both on the chopping block. And the 80 is by far the best way to get to the high school, city hall, etc from our neighborhood. Oh, and to the Green Line, since we don't get *other* ways of connecting to the Green Line for an eternity. My husband used to commute regularly to work on the 80 too, a few years ago, and the service was unpredictable and infrequent enough as it was, even on workdays. Maybe if they fixed the service they'd find more riders to make it profitable? Instead, they'll just yank away MORE connectivity from Somervillians.
    Lucas Rogers January 06, 2012 at 04:36 AM
    Somerville was built around streetcars. Then they replaced the streetcars with buses. Now, with unending green line delays in the background, they're saying they might take even the buses away. This is hard to take.
    Miguel January 06, 2012 at 07:48 PM
    I heard that rumors cutting bus service in the Somerville Area & so fare hike. What's happening? People have to work, elderly people who lives in the area, & & going to bars late in night. When is going to effect? In the next couple of years Green Line all the way to Somerville. Find out anytime soon!
    Ron Newman January 06, 2012 at 08:01 PM
    I'd much rather see the MBTA partially default on its unsustainable debt obligations instead of carrying out these service cuts. Let the hedge fund owners suffer, not working people in Somerville. If airlines can periodically wipe out their debts through bankruptcy and continue operating, why can't the T?
    Chris Orchard (Editor) January 06, 2012 at 10:28 PM
    Just posted this link to Facebook. It's a good discussion about the topic on the Jan. 5 "Radio Boston" program on WBUR. http://radioboston.wbur.org/2012/01/05/slow-ride-the-mbta-and-the-search-for-a-budget-fix
    Emily January 09, 2012 at 07:41 PM
    We're having a meeting about this Tuesday 1/10 at 6pm at 165 Broadway (2nd Floor) in Somerville. Come join, discuss what's going on and how we can move forward in light of these potential cuts. We can't just sit around and wait until the "hearing" on Feb 28th. http://www.facebook.com/events/167467446688614/
    Courtney O'Keefe January 09, 2012 at 09:55 PM
    Good point, Mimi, Also, Congressman Mike Capuano encouraged the Board of Alderman recently to accept Commuter Rail stops now instead of waiting for the Green Line Extension. According to the news above, the Commuter Rail will stop at 10pm and not run on weekends. So, we either wait for the Green Line or have a line that only helps the 9 to 5ers. Great choices :( ~Courtney O'Keefe Ward5Online.Com


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