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Wheelchair bound T riders hold vigil for "death of their freedom"

State House gathering meant to be a "memorial" not a protest, according to organizers.

A group of roughly 30 wheelchair-bound T riders and activists took to the State House Monday to hold a vigil symbolizing what organizers call "the death of their freedom" caused by the new MBTA fare structure which roughly doubles the cost for people to use The Ride, a paratransit service for the elderly and disabled.

"It's to tell the governor and legislators that this is a memorial to the people who are alive but will not be able to go anywhere with the 100 percent increase, from $2 to $4, that went into effect (Sunday) for anybody who uses The Ride," said wheelchair user and activist Karen Schneiderman. "Some people will have to stop going wherever they go; they use it for emergencies, and some of the people who aren't here sent a note saying they can't afford the $8 or $10 to come and read a paragraph."

At the "vigil," wheelchair users and supporters of people with disabilities read testimonies from riders struggling on a fixed income and demanded to speak to Governor Deval Patrick to discuss alternatives to the fare increase.

The event was a follow up to a May 21 protest in which five MBTA wheelchair users chained themselves together in a crosswalk in front of the State House, causing traffic gridlock in Beacon Hill for more than an hour.

 
 
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