IN THE MBTA’s finance crisis, the public is being asked to choose between drastic service reductions or sharply increased fares (“Top official favors fare hike over service cut; T plans reexamined amid public outcry,’’ Page A1, Feb. 19). Both are unacceptable, and the choice is a false one.
Anyone who rides the T knows that service is inadequate already. Yet, a sharp increase in fares will be a hardship for many riders and will deter others from using the T — increasing traffic, pollution, and road maintenance costs.
The state Legislature should take a hard look at how the T has been set up for failure, saddled with Big Dig debt and insufficient public funding. No doubt the T could be more efficient, and should be. But a variety of sustainable financing mechanisms used by other transit systems could help — for example, real estate transfer taxes, metro-area payroll taxes, or greater state or national support.
Boston cannot be a world-class city with a third-rate and deteriorating public transportation system. We need greater public investment in this public good to achieve that distinction.
Elizabeth L. MerrickSomerville