A tale of two transit systems - CommonWealth Magazine

Dec 7, 2015

Means-tested T fares could be disastrous.  -- By James Aloisi

We decry the growing income inequality that manifests itself as a Tale of Two Cities – one for the haves, and one for everyone else.  Yet we may be fast approaching a Tale of Two Transit Systems – one for the voiceless in society, and one for the wealthy and connected.  And we threaten to exacerbate the problem by using well-intentioned mid-Twentieth Century approaches to maintaining equality.  Allow me to explain.  [...]

As I’ve said before, asking T riders to pay more for the same quality of service is ineffective policy and morally wrong. Until and unless we have before us a comprehensive, credible plan to deal with the $7 billion state-of-good repair gap, we should put a halt to fare increase talk. And when the time does come to implement a new fare increase, lets figure out a way to help those who can least afford it through methods other than discounted fares.  Discounting fares only takes money away from the T.  Instead, we should be thinking creatively, perhaps using earned income tax credits or having the state subsidize fares for those who qualify for SNAP or similar programs (ideas recently offered for discussion by Josh Fairchild of the advocacy group TransitMatters).

Let me leave you with one final thought. We are all in this together, but won’t be for long once we push well-off commuters to private sector micro transit. A fair and equitable mobility system that everyone uses ought to be a pillar of a thriving urban experience.  Once we lose our egalitarian transit system we lose the whole ballgame.

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