Will Boston’s T cost more to ride?

By Christa Case Bryant, Mónica Guzmán and Jorge Caraballo.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, known by Boston locals as the T, is proposing a fare hike of 5 or 10 percent to update its system and improve service. But many riders and interest groups say low fares are not the problem. Adjusting for inflation, fares have nearly doubled since 1997. Nearly one-third of the MBTA’s employees made more than $100,000 last year, some of whom signed off on their own overtime. Critics say the MBTA should get its fiscal house in order.

On Monday, the MBTA fiscal control board met to consider the proposed fare hikes and hear public comment.

[View the story “Should Boston’s T raise its fares?” on Storify]

The MBTA came under scrutiny when it released data showing that nearly one-third of its employees received more than $100,000 in gross pay in 2015. Below is a chart based on MBTA data published by the Boston Globe.

The red line charts MBTA employees' base pay in 2015. The blue line charts their gross pay. The increases were largely due to overtime and back pay. (Data: Boston Globe)

The red line charts MBTA employees’ base pay in 2015. The blue line charts their gross pay. The increases were largely due to overtime and back pay. (Data: Boston Globe)

“Charlie and the MTA”
Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax-Hawes

Let me tell you the story
Of a man named Charlie
On a tragic and fateful day
He put ten cents in his pocket,
Kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the MTA

Charlie handed in his dime
At the Kendall Square Station
And he changed for Jamaica Plain
When he got there the conductor told him,
“One more nickel.”
Charlie could not get off that train.

Did he ever return,
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn’d
He may ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man who never returned.

Now all night long
Charlie rides through the tunnels the station
Saying, “What will become of me?
Crying
How can I afford to see
My sister in Chelsea
Or my cousin in Roxbury?”

Charlie’s wife goes down
To the Scollay Square station
Every day at quarter past two
And through the open window
She hands Charlie a sandwich
As the train comes rumblin’ through.

As his train rolled on
underneath Greater Boston
Charlie looked around and sighed:
“Well, I’m sore and disgusted
And I’m absolutely busted;
I guess this is my last long ride.”
{this entire verse was replaced by a banjo solo}

Now you citizens of Boston,
Don’t you think it’s a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay
Vote for Walter A. O’Brien
Fight the fare increase!
And fight the fare increase
Vote for George O’Brien!
Get poor Charlie off the MTA.

Chorus:
Or else he’ll never return,
No he’ll never return
And his fate will be unlearned
He may ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man (Who’s the man)
He’s the man who never returned.
He’s the man (Oh, the man)
He’s the man who never returned.
He’s the man who never returned.

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