Rep. Driscoll Joins House Colleagues in Sending Letter to MBTA Opposing Service Cuts
Earlier this week, Representative Driscoll joined 68 House colleagues in sending the following letter to the MBTA General Manager in opposition to the proposed service cuts.
December 8, 2020
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
10 Park Plaza #4160
Boston, MA 02116
Dear General Manager Poftak:
As members of the House MBTA Caucus, we write to express our deep concern and strong opposition to the service eliminations and reductions proposed in the MBTA’s Forging Ahead plan. While we understand that the global pandemic has caused a significant drop in public transit ridership and thus fare revenue for the MBTA, we firmly believe that these proposed cuts go too far, are premature, and will inflict major, disproportionate harm on the most vulnerable residents of the MBTA’s service area. We call on you to immediately shelve this plan, or at the very least, significantly scale back these cuts.
Reliable, accessible, and affordable public transportation is critical to our residents, businesses, medical community, and for local economic development. We are particularly concerned about the disproportionate impact that these cuts will have on lower-income residents, many of whom are essential workers; persons with disabilities; and small businesses. We believe this plan goes too far in addressing the loss of revenue from decreased ridership during the pandemic, and we call on the MBTA to suspend this plan.
We appreciate that the MBTA has defined essential service as serving “communities where transit is critical, including communities with residents who are low-income, people of color, seniors, people with disabilities, or who live in households with few or no vehicles.” Our deep concern regarding this proposal is the disproportionate impact these cuts will have on the very communities you highlight in your essential service definition.
Public transportation is critical to our Commonwealth’s strategy to combat climate change and meet ambitious goals established in state law. Public transportation is an essential strategic lever for reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality and public health, and reducing health disparities that disproportionately impact communities of color. Additional cars on the road will only exacerbate our pre-pandemic reality of road congestion, by some metrics the worst in the nation.
As you know, earlier in this legislative session under the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, the House of Representatives passed a historic piece of legislation that addressed the Commonwealth’s transportation crisis by providing $600 million in additional annual revenue to fund transportation infrastructure. The House transportation package included new investments in local roads, the MBTA, and Regional Transit Authorities. During these uncertain times, we understand the pressure that is currently placed on the MBTA. We look forward to working collaboratively, now and in the future, to preserve high quality service for commuters.
Additionally, we ask that the MBTA include in its final plan a comprehensive ramp-up and service restoration plan, that details the ridership benchmarks required for full restoration and timelines for capital projects. We are cognizant that a drop in ridership due to the pandemic may necessitate some changes in service, but we are adamant that service must be steadily restored as ridership increases.