All Things Travel: MBTA Fare Hikes Justified?
BOSTON (CBS) – A couple of meetings that took place in Boston a couple of miles apart showed just where travel and transportation stands in preparation for the new Fiscal Year beginning July 1.
In a raucous 2.5-hour session at the Boston Public Library, 78 speakers denounced proposed fare hikes and MBTA service cuts. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino also spoke against the proposed plans to close a $161 million deficit.
Across the harbor, the Massport Board that runs Logan Airport approved a five-year, $1.1 billion capital program for infrastructure improvements in less than 15 minutes of discussion.
The only state executive present at both sessions was Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey who, as a part of his job, is Chairman of the Massport Board. He holds the key to the final outcome of how one operation may help the other.
There are 340 projects in the Massport improvement proposal that runs through June 30, 2017. That averages out to over $200 million a year. Five years from now, the Logan passenger count could reach nearly 30 million.
$300 million will be used to complete the Consolidated Rental Car facility. $85 million will be used for terminal renovations. A new addition to Terminal B, on the American Airlines side, will house United Airlines and Continental Airlines flights, which are currently in separate terminals.
Major upgrades are also being funded at Hanscom Field in Bedford and the Worcester Airport for business travelers using private jets.
It appears that Massport may be willing to take over most, if not all, of the MBTA water transportation current operations for commuters and people going to Logan Airport. The Authority confirmed that discussions were underway with the MBTA.
There is precedent for such action. When the MBTA Silver Line opened with the direct service from South Station to the airport, Massport purchased eight of the 32 buses that carry passengers at a cost of over $6 million.
I attended both meetings and ride the MBTA weekly. I came away with two thoughts:
A fare increase is justified after four years. With record ridership of 1.3 million people a day and gas prices rising toward $4 a gallon, more traffic can be expected, especially on the weekends for people who want to experience the city.
Future maintenance plans should be presented to the public along with the next planned round of fare increases estimated for the next five years.
Bob Weiss reports on business travel on Mondays at 5:55 a.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.