On January 3, 2012, the to raise fares and cut service to combat a $161 million budget gap. Both proposals that the MBTA outlined would severely impact MBTA service around the state, but Brookline and particularly South Brookline, would be hit especially hard. While I understand that fares may need to be raised and that some service cuts may be necessary, the MBTA should reconsider its plans to shutter the 51 and 60 buses.
As the State Representative for the 10th Suffolk District which includes Roslindale, West Roxbury, and Precincts 14, 15 and 16 in Brookline, I have been dismayed by the recommended cuts that would affect these communities. Under Scenario 2, as proposed by the MBTA, five buses that service parts of West Roxbury and two buses that service Brookline would be eliminated.
The number 60 bus, which starts near the Chestnut Hill Mall and travels down Boylston Street through Brookline and the Fenway before ending at Kenmore Station, and the number 51 bus, which travels between Cleveland Circle and Forest Hills, passing through West Roxbury and South Brookline, would be shut down.
Students, professionals, and seniors are just some of the people who rely upon the MBTA and its buses to get to school, work and around town; without these two bus lines, they would have to seek alternative means of transportation. For many residents, especially in South Brookline, however, there are no other public transit options.
For example, Brookline High School students from the South Brookline area who want to get to school early or stay late to get work done, meet with teachers or participate in extra-curricular activities would have no public transportation to use. Professionals who take the 51 or 60 to work every day would have no other option but take a car to work, adding to the already congested Brookline roads. Seniors would lose some of their independence; instead, they would be dependent on family or friends to get around, or would have to use expensive cabs.
These significant on all MBTA riders, from students to seniors. Under Scenario 1, seniors will be especially impacted by fare increases; bus or subway ticket would go up by 175% or 150% and THE RIDE would increase by 500% for some customers. The fare increases are lower under Scenario 2, but the elimination of these two important bus lines would mean far fewer options for residents.
I have already reached out to the MBTA to express my disappointment at the possibility of the 51 and 60 bus lines being eliminated and their importance to the South Brookline and Greater Brookline community. I will continue to work to ensure that public transit remains a viable commuting option for Roslindale, West Roxbury and Brookline residents.
The MBTA is hosting 20 public meetings to receive input on the plan; I strongly encourage people to attend a meeting and speak out against these cuts. Comments can also be mailed to the MBTA or e-mailed to the MBTA at firstname.lastname@example.org; please visit MBTA.com for more information. As always, concerned residents should contact me directly at 617-722-2080 on this, or any other important matter.
The $161 million budget gap that the MBTA faces for the next fiscal year is a significant obstacle for the state budget to overcome. Many communities around the state are facing cuts in service that would mean little or no public transit for their residents; unfortunately, South Brookline is one of them. Closing the budget gap by slashing service and increasing the financial burden for riders is the wrong track; I urge the MBTA to reconsider its plans.