By Jim Smith

BOSTON (CBS) – Like just about everything else, the MBTA has taken a devastating financial hit due to the coronavirus crisis.

Now the agency is proposing major service cuts. Riders against those reductions are organizing in a big way. They showed up at the MBTA board meeting Monday with a visual prop – a giant pair of scissors they used to cut a cardboard bus in half.

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Protesters cut a cardboard bus in half to symbolize MBTA budget cuts Nov. 9. (WBZ-TV)

“None of us can afford to have these cuts! None of us can afford it” said Mela Miles of the T Riders Union.

She also said reducing service prevents social distancing, putting riders in jeopardy.

“Service cuts put us in danger because then there’s less service and people have to get on buses and trains and it’s crowded. We can’t afford to lose another residents of our community,” she said.

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The proposed cuts would be painful. There would be no commuter rail service after 9 p.m., and no weekend commuter rail. Ferry service and 25 bus routes would be eliminated. The T’s subway lines would run less frequently and subway and bus service would stop at midnight.

Jason Palitsch of the 495/MetroWest Partnership says the reductions would deal an economic blow to the region.

“Massachusetts will be at a competitive disadvantage if we are perceived as a place where we must own a car in order to be able to live and work. I have already been hearing from business leaders in my region about their concerns regarding hiring young talent because of those constraints,” he said.

The MBTA says fares will not be increased. But opponents of the reductions believe the cuts will impact communities least able to afford less public transit.

The T says this hasn’t been finalized yet. There are more virtual public meetings in the future.

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The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed service cuts December 7.