As the 411 bus rumbled up Oak Island Street towards the Jack Satter House earlier this week, there weren’t a ton of people getting off the bus, and there was really only one man getting on.
Those using the bus were regulars, though, and they said that while the 411 doesn’t have a large ridership, it services a group of people who are completely dependent upon the route – many who are elderly.
“That’s absurd,” said Oak Island resident Liam Loughner when informed about the possibility of cutting the route by MBTA officials . “This is the only transportation up here in this area and they want to take it away? The only other option is to walk. If it were more reliable, more people would take it, but you never know when it will come and it just doesn’t come that often anyway. I’ve stopped being surprised about what these guys do. I’ve been to a lot of areas and the Boston area is a cheap Ford masquerading as a BMW. It’s just typical.”
Amidst a lot of publicity, last week the MBTA unveiled a huge plan full of scenarios that include raising fares and cutting services. The T is facing a $161 million deficit in the coming fiscal year, and has indicated that it has a limited means of cutting that gap in funding. After careful study and several public meetings, the T released a study proposing two scenarios for cost cutting.
The goal of the new plan is to strengthen the overall inner, urban core – such as in Revere – so many of the city’s busiest bus routes went untouched in the cutting process. However, some very important routes in less travelled areas of Revere did find their way upon the chopping block.
While the first scenario deals more with fare increases system wide, the second scenario contains wholesale cuts to entire bus routes – including the 411 bus.
“The primary methods that the MBTA has at its disposal for reducing deficits are raising fares to increase revenue and reducing service to decrease operating expenses, though the MBTA can raise revenue through other, less significant means,” read the report released last week. “The MBTA recently explored the impacts of various combinations of potential fare-increase and service-reduction levels and decided to model two scenarios with different combinations. The amount of the fare increase and service reductions proposed by the MBTA for each scenario was determined by the objective of closing the projected FY 2013 budget deficit.”
Scenario 1 in the report doesn’t touch any Revere bus routes except the 448 and 449 route, which run up and down Rt. 1A and are mostly seen as commuter buses for other North Shore areas.
Aside from that, Commuter Rail service would cease after 10 p.m. and would be halted on Saturdays and Sundays.
The meat of that proposal would come in fare increases – the first increases since 2007 when the Charlie Card was introduced.
For those with a Charlie Card, the bus fare under Scenario 1 would increase from $1.25 to $1.75. Subway fare would go from $1.70 to $2.40. Astonishingly, senior citizen rates for the bus would increase from $0.40 to $1.10 – a 175 percent increase.
The traditional “T Pass” would increase under that scenario from $59 to $80.
In the second proposal, Scenario 2, the plan focuses on a combination of fare increases and deep service cuts.
For example, the traditional T Pass would only increase to $78 and the subway fare would go up to only $2.25.
However, that scenario also eliminates the 411 bus route and the 119 route in Revere.
The 411 route goes from Malden Station to the Jack Satter House and is the only bus on the northern end of the Boulevard.
The 119 bus runs from Beachmont Station to Northgate Mall.
Most other Revere bus routes – such as the popular 110 and 111 – would not be changed in either scenario.
Additionally, the T is proposing to increase parking rates at its surface parking lots at Wonderland, Beachmont and Suffolk Downs, going from $5 to either $7 or $6.50.
State Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein said that she has looked through both scenarios and has asked to meet in the coming weeks with T Director Richard Davey.
She said in her district, which includes Revere and Chelsea, most people are talking about adding service, not cutting it.
“It’s a hard situation because when I go to meetings in the district, all I hear about is adding services to the T and not lessening bus routes,” she said. “In Chelsea and Revere, many people depend upon public transportation. It’s part of what’s attractive for people to move here. Any interruption in service is definitely something I’m concerned about.”
At the same time, though, she said there would probably have to be some sort of compromise in the discussion.
“Not to look into my magic ball, but I think there will be a change in the end,” she said. “It’s about finding a balance. If we keep things as they are, it’s just going to cost more money and they have a huge deficit. We don’t want to hurt working class people who use the T every day, but we are probably going to have to find some sort of balance.”
“It is based on these data—and on a vision of what shape the MBTA will take in the future—that a course of action must be chosen,” read the report.
Imagine pulling up to Wonderland Station and seeing a giant Coca-Cola logo where the familiar blue lettering used to sit for decades.
Instead of the plain old ‘Wonderland,’ it might read ‘The Coca-Cola Station at Wonderland.’
That and many other possibilities are on the table as the MBTA moves ahead this month on a contract with a New York City-based company that will attempt to sell the naming rights of stations, subway lines, bus routes, commuter rail lines and commuter ferries.
According to press reports, the T has contracted with IMG Worldwide – a sports marketing firm – to sell the rights to the T’s various public spaces.
The company will receive a 12 percent cut of whatever they end up negotiating.
IMG has recently signed similar deals in Chicago and Austin, TX.
According to reports in Brooklyn, NY media outlets, a busy station there officially became the Barclays Terminal this month – named for the large bank out of London. The company is paying the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York $200,000 per year for that privilege.
In Boston, with the T badly in debt, just about anything that brings in money will be considered.