BOSTON, MAR. 29 - Representative Bill Driscoll Jr. attended the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board hearing on Monday, March 27th, where he expressed his opposition to the recently proposed RIDE cuts. The legislator for the towns of Milton and Randolph noted that nearly 1,500 of his constituents would be affected by this move, and that the removal of the service would result in real restrictions for their day-to-day mobility. “Residents in Randolph and Milton, particularly those belonging to our older generation, depend on the RIDE and stand to lose much of their autonomy,” he said.
Yet the Representative’s strongest criticism was reserved for the rumored plan to defer transit services to the Councils on Aging:
“Senior Centers and Councils on Aging typically offer supplemental Paratransit service to the RIDE. The changes to the RIDE that have been proposed will leave an enormous gap, one which the senior centers and COA cannot begin to cover.”
Driscoll closed this segment of his statement by articulating a more positive vision for the future of elder services in the Commonwealth, one where improvements to transportation options would be explored, rather than cutbacks. At the end of the hearing, the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board approved a motion removing the RIDE cuts, providing that a plan for cost savings is formulated for FY 2018.
Driscoll also took time to criticize the rumored privatization of the MBTA’s maintenance operations. The possible layoff of the current MBTA mechanics and machinists through outsourcing would be, he said, a disaster not only for jobs but for public safety. “These individuals know the vehicles, maintence issues and idiosyncracy of an aged system better than anyone else because, as public employees, they are serving their fellow citizens day in and day out,” he said.
The Representative finished by offering his support to the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) Local 264 in their opposition to this privatization:
“Cutting corners when it comes to public transport is never in the interests of the commuters of the Commonwealth, and not something that I will ever support as a State Representative.”