MBTA cuts would have adverse effects on Boston’s economy

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NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

If the MBTA doesn’t get help dealing with its deficit, it could lead to skyrocketing parking lot prices, gridlocked streets and cause a strain on the city’s economy.

According to a new report released yesterday by A Better City, a nonprofit transportation advocacy group, Boston’s sports venues and museums would take a hit and hospital workers wouldn’t be able to get to work if cuts to select weekend train services are implemented.

“There is a wide range of populations that will be adversely impacted, jobs that won’t be accessed and economic interests … that will be underserved,” said Richard Dimino, president of ABC. The nonprofit’s board includes Bank of America, Harvard University, MIT, Fidelity and John Hancock.

Dimino emphasized the “serious concern for critical services” that shuttle medical employees and patients to area hospitals.

“These types of steps are inconsistent with supporting existing jobs and future growth,” said Dimino.
Those attending Bruins, Red Sox and Celtics games would also be left scrambling for parking, he said.

The report suggests that if the T were to go forward with either of its two proposals, which include slashing weekend commuter trains and the Green Line’s E train, it would increase the parking demand, driving tourists away.

“It’s the worst thing you want to be doing coming out of a recession and while the T is facing record-high ridership,” said Dimino.

Bud Ris, president of the New England Aquarium, agreed and said the single-biggest challenge for Hub visitors is the high cost of parking.

“If MBTA service is curtailed, the demand for parking in the city will only increase, driving up parking rates,” said Ris.

Dimino and members of ABC presented a list of potential solutions to close the budget gap without eliminating services to T officials yesterday during a news conference.

The group called for smaller fare increases, prudent service cuts and continuing state transportation reform.

The numbers
The report offers a look at the impact of the T cuts by the numbers:

1/10
If one-tenth of riders abandon the system for cars, the additional congestion will cost the Bay State economy $66 million a year.

44%
Percentage of professionals in the Longwood medical area that use the T.

$50M
The group calls for the Patrick administration to use $50 million from its “rainy day” funds to help close the T’s budget gap.

2x
The population of Boston doubles daily as people flock to work and attractions.

25%
Recommended fare increase proposed by ABC in its report.

630K
Number of extra car vehicle miles traveled daily if one of the T’s proposals passes.

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear


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