Some MBTA riders call public input a waste of time

A woman holds a sign that reads “The riders have spoken” during a rally before an MBTA board meeting yesterday.

The MBTA can’t promise on-time trains, but they are guaranteeing riders that service cuts and fare increases are coming down the tracks.

A day after the last public hearing, where T-users blew their gaskets over the MBTA’s proposals to close a massive budget gap, top transit officials penned a letter to constituents solidifying what everyone feared; both cuts and fare increases will have to happen in some capacity.

The news shook some riders’ confidence that their outcries were heard.

“It’s really frustrating. If they cared what we thought, they would do something. Why did they have us waste our breath?” said Tyree Ware, 20.

Ware said he feels like the T planned from the start to hold the meetings as part of a policy process, but never intended on using input from the public.

“It’s kind of like ‘Eff you, have a nice day,’” he said.

Hundreds of protesters joined Ware outside of the MBTA board of directors meeting yesterday to speak out one last time against plans to slash bus and train services.

But like Ware, others worried it was a waste of oxygen.

“You can stand in front of a microphone and talk, but not be heard,” said Emily Feeney, 21.

Dylan Johnstone, 22, said no matter how many people showed up — roughly 6,000 during the course of the last several months — she was unsure if T officials listened.

“Where is the democracy in that,” she said.

MBTA board of directors Chairman John Jenkins said the skepticism is untrue, however.

“We appreciate people coming out. They let us know how they felt, and we heard it,” he said.

Input didn’t fall on deaf ears

Top T officials said not only have they heard riders, but they have listened to everything they have said in the last 31 meetings.

“The stark reality is, [we have] a $161 million deficit we have to fill,” said interim GM Jon Davis.
“But we have gotten some suggestions and ideas we may very well incorporate into our final recommendations.”

Officials will create a “grid” of all proposals, including one from “The Fast Five” superheroes.

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear


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