After months of debate over the MBTA's for cutting services and raising fares to meet their projected $161 million budget deficit, the period of public comment ended last night at the MBTA's final public hearing, held at a senior center in Brighton.
In a Boston Globe article on the meeting, MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis explained how they were going to move forward. According to him and the Globe, "neither of the two previously released scenarios will be selected by the agency’s board," but, "Instead, the committee that drafted those two proposals will take testimony from all of the hearings’ speakers and feedback from more than 5,600 e-mails and draft new recommendations."
The MBTA board's monthly meeting is April 4th, and, also per the Globe, "Davis said he hopes those recommendations will be submitted by [then]."
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, or MAPC, has some recommendations of their own. In a report released today and quoted on Universal Hub, they say,"Living in a health care hub, we often think of health as something that happens in a doctor's office. But this report highlights that the region's most important resources for health aren't limited to our world-class hospitals and doctors. MBTA service prevents accidents, reduces air pollution, and helps residents fit physical activity into their daily lives."
However, the MBTA's own environmental impact study on the effects of either Scenario 1 or Scenario 2, released January 3rd, didn't try to present the service cuts or fare increases as a boon to the environment or communities.
As they say in that report, "the highway congestion and air quality metrics show a greater negative impact on EJ communities compared to non-EJ communities, a further exacerbation of the difference in local congestion and air quality that already exists" (the MBTA determines it's "EJ" or "Environmental Justice" communities based on local poverty levels and/or an above-statistical-averages percentage of people of color in a given area).
Regardless, per the Globe, "The T’s board has until April 15 to approve a budget for fiscal 2013. That budget, and any service cuts or fare increases that go with it, will take effect July 1."