T fare hike protest blocks Beacon St. - Metro US

T fare hike protest blocks Beacon St.

A group of disabled and wheelchair-bound activists took to the streets during their protest yesterday — literally.

The group chained their chairs together in a crosswalk on Beacon Street in front of the State House to signal their opposition to the MBTA’s fare hikes for THE RIDE.

With traffic blocked, police were called in, the chains were cut and the activists retreated to the sidewalk in front of the State House.

“Most disabled people are low-income, so this is an emergency for us,” said James Brooks, a community organizer who lives in Brighton.

Brooks, who uses a wheelchair, said he relies on THE RIDE nearly every day to get to his job in Jamaica Plain or to medical appointments.

The group said they want Gov. Deval Patrick to veto the T’s budget.

Earlier this year the MBTA board voted to increase fares for the first time in five years.

Prices for a trip on THE RIDE, the lift-equipped vans that transport disabled or elderly people on door-to-door trips, are set to cost more than a ride on the subway or bus. A ride beyond Boston would cost even more.

“We are subsidizing the MBTA,” said Brooks. “It’s our system, too.”

However, T officials have said THE RIDE is an extreme drain on funds and resources, especially as the population ages. THE RIDE costs the T $122 million annually and is increasing at 16 percent each year.

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