Dorchester residents voiced opposition today to possible MBTA fare hikes and service cuts, with some saying the T is their only form of transportation.
“Even the present fare is a hardship for these folks,” Jeff Klein, 65, who teaches English to recent Haitian immigrants, said at the afternoon hearing at the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center. “The idea that the fares would go up and bus service would go down is tragic.”
Last month the MBTA released two scenarios on how it plans to close its $161 million budget deficit.
Scenario one would raise fares by 43-percent making the price for a one-way trip on the train jump from $1.70 to $2.40. Scenario two would only increase fares by 35-percent raising the cost of a ride on the train from $1.70 to $2.25 but would also make major cuts to bus routes throughout the city.
Both proposals would also eliminate the MBTA’s ferry service as well as end commuter rail service at 10 p.m. on weeknights and eliminate weekend service on the commuter rail, the Mattapan Trolley and the Green Line’s E branch.
At today's meeting, many testified in French Creole about how the changes would cut them off from their jobs and families.
Students also packed the hearing to express their outrage with the MBTA’s proposal and how it could hinder their education.
“We are all in eighth grade, and we are about to go into high school and if they [MBTA] raise the prices we will be spending a lot of money,” said Kimallay Jean-Pierre, a 14-year-old student from Hyde Park. “I don’t think we should be paying more for buses that aren’t clean.”
Tiffany Obi, a 14-year-old student from Roxbury, echoed Jean-Pierre’s comments.
“As students we have to get to school and if we don’t have the money for that, then we can’t get a good education,”Obi said.
The elderly and disabled also made their concerns known at the hearing, saying if the MBTA cuts service they will lose their independence.
“I’ve been riding the T my whole life. I’ve never owned a car,” said Eunice Wright, 84. “You could see paying more if the service got better but it isn’t, so this doesn’t make sense.”
A second meeting will take place this evening from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Dorchester House Multi-Service Centers.