DANTE RAMOS’s March 1 Op-Ed, “MBTA fare hikes stink, but they’re needed,” correctly describes the MBTA’s financial challenges. However, it misses crucial facts, which is understandable, considering the T’s misleading messaging about needing additional resources.
Most important, the T actually can do without the money the fare hike would generate. The T board’s own data tells us that next year’s operating budget has a surplus of $49 million (there’s $187 million in the Governor’s budget to fill a $138 million gap). And that’s without factoring in a single dollar above the originally planned 5 percent fare increase.
Unfortunately, this surplus won’t be used to repair any additional trains, signals, or power systems. In fact, it won’t be spent at all. The secretary recently said that the T already has more money than it can spend next year on capital projects and therefore new revenue would end up in a reserve. It may be a good idea to have extra money on hand, but certainly not reason enough to reach into the wallets of long-suffering riders.
The original budget called for a 5 percent increase every other year. The MBTA board Monday approved a hike of 9.22 percent. There is no reason to demand more.