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This state rep used a can of AriZona Iced Tea to make a point about why the MBTA shouldn’t raise fares

An MBTA Red Line train at Porter Square.
An MBTA Red Line train at Porter Square.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2019/Globe Staff

During a vexed public hearing Wednesday night in regard to the MBTA’s plan to raise fares, state Representative Tommy Vitolo used a canned beverage to make a point about why the transportation agency should pump the brakes on the proposal.

Holding a large 99-cent can of AriZona Iced Tea and standing in front of a room packed with people, Vitolo, who represents Brookline, said the T could learn a thing or two from the discount beverage maker when it comes to considering cost increases.

“It’s cost 99 cents for 18 years. Eighteen years,” Vitolo said about the price of the tea. “And what the good people of AriZona Iced Tea figured out, is if you don’t improve the quality of the tea, you don’t raise the price of the tea.”

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The official then proceeded to open the can before taking a dramatic sip.

Vitolo’s comparison was well-received and drew raucous applause from the crowd.

The MBTA announced last month plans to increase the price for riders to use its bus, train, and commuter rail services by an average of 6.3 percent. The changes would go into effect July 1, according to the proposal.

The State House News Service reported that dozens of elected officials and transit activists spoke out against the increase Wednesday night.

Vitolo tweeted that he was there to oppose the potential fare increase because “charging more is inappropriate when service has declined.”

“Increased congestion and carbon pollution also calls for making the T a more attractive transportation choice,” he said, “not one that is harder to afford.”

The New York-based beverage company seemed to agree with Vitolo’s sentiment about their product.

On Thursday, representatives from AriZona tweeted a response to a video of Vitolo giving his impassioned speech at the lectern.

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“SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!” the company said in the tweet, which included a GIF of a woman shouting into a megaphone.

Vitolo, for his part, retweeted the vote of confidence from the company Thursday.

As first pointed out by Boston Magazine, AriZona seems to take pride in its affordable drinks.

In 2016, Spencer Vultaggio, CMO and co-owner of the company, told the website Thrillist that the low cost for a refreshing drink is a deliberate move.

“We’ve been 99 cents for more than 15 years now,” Vultaggio said at the time. “It’s a big part of our overall strategy, and our business model is such that we don’t advertise, for example, and we put those costs towards giving our consumer the value they want and expect.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear. Information form the State House News Service was used in this report.