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letters | prior T efforts failed

Privatization of bus routes prelude to ending service

THE ASSOCIATION for Public Transportation believes the MBTA’s plans to privatize bus routes has the hallmarks of a covert plan to end service on those lines (“MBTA looks at privatized bus lines,” Metro, Aug. 20). The idea that a private company can run any routes at a profit is nonsense on its face as there is no transit system in the world that runs at a profit. The so-called privatization works only if a subsidy is provided by the T. Where can money be saved? Only by reducing drivers’ pay, which is an open attack on its union contract.

Many years ago, the T dabbled in privatization when it put out to a private company a long bus route from Newton Corner to Framingham. It was a disaster from the outset. The vehicles were worn-out intercity buses, there were no destination signs, the drivers wore no uniforms and there was not even a fare box — money was collected and put into a cigar box. Worst of all there was no discernible schedule. Waiting for a bus was an act of faith. The route’s already-low ridership dropped to near zero and after a couple of years, the route was abandoned.

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Sic transit gloria of privatization.

Frank S. DeMasi
President, Association for Public Transportation
Ernest Loewenstein
Chair, Transit Committee
Association for Public Transportation