‘T’ Officials Tell Winthrop Riders: Start Walking Bus Route Could Be Eliminated as MBTA Seeks to Cut Deficit

Thursday, January 12, 2012
By Seth Daniel

There aren’t many bus stops in Winthrop as it is right now, but if one MBTA service cut scenario plays out, there won’t be any at all.

The private carrier Winthrop bus – funded by the T and operated by Paul Revere Transportation – is the only means of public transportation in the Town.

People use it to get to the Blue Line, mostly.

But they also use it to get to Winthrop Center from other parts of town.

Kids use it to get to and from school, and the elderly depend on it as their only means of getting out of the house.

Now, once again, it’s on the chopping block to be cut from the MBTA’s program under a voluminous study conducted by the T.

“Cutting our bus would be more than devastating,” said Eric Gaynor, executive director of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce. “I really just can’t imagine it. It’s really all we have in terms of public transportation. So many people use it to get to Orient Heights, but a lot of people also depend on it to come shopping in the Center. There are a lot of people without cars and the bus is how they get around. What would be the other option? I guess all those people would have to walk. I really hope we can make a case with the T to keep our bus operating because losing it would be unthinkable.”

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 so many of the busiest bus routes went untouched in the cutting process. However, private carrier buses in Winthrop, Medford, Canton and Hull  came under the microscope for elimination.

While the first scenario deals more with fare increases system wide, the second scenario contains smaller fare increases and wholesale cuts to entire bus routes.

“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.”

In Scenario 1, 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 regular bus routes 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.

Additionally, the T is proposing to increase parking rates at its surface parking lots at Orient Heights and Suffolk Downs, going from $5 to either $7 or $6.50.

Despite the threat of losing the bus, House Speaker Bob DeLeo has already taken action to protect the service, and his office said it is a top priority for him in the T discussion.

“The Speaker is very concerned about this and is going to look into what can be done,” said spokesman Seth Gitell, noting that DeLeo has been in meetings with T Director Richard Davey.

  • Patb

    Just awful. I am a senior citizen without a car who still works. I will have to walk a half hour to Beachmont Station 5 days a week including 3 trips from the station after midnight. Thanks MBTA for causing real hardship

  • PatrMurphy

    THEY SUCK

  • Susan Carson

     I have taken this bus to work in Winthrop on Deer Island , when I had to put my car in the shop for repairs.  I don’t have money for a cab, so I would have to walk to work from Orient Heights if I don’t flag down a co-worker driving by the station.  So if this is the case, I may have to leave my current job in order to find one closer to home (Medford)

  • Tom

    Seriously?!  They simply should never cut the only public means of transportation in any town or city. No town or city can afford to press such a terrible burden on its residents. People depend completely on public transportation for so many reasons. I wouldn’t be able to get to work, and neither would my wife. We’d have to move, which we can’t afford to do right now. The disabled would have no way of getting around Winthrop or leaving it (The Ride is useful, but not practical for a hundred more or so people). Economically burdened households depend on the bus for their every day living whether it is to get to school, to work, or to get to the store for some food and/or to pick up a prescription at CVS.

    The T simply cannot do this. Increasing the fare is better than cutting it completely! There must be other alternatives. Cutting it would be so unjust and cruel. I can’t imagine half the people I who take the bus daily actually walking miles just to get around. That is not living. What kind of people run the T to even consider cutting an entire means of public transportation off!? It would be devastating. Everyone reading this should contact the T and/or our Representatives in the House and the Senate. This cannot be done. You judge a nation by how well it treats its poor and disadvantaged. What are we saying as people if we do not fight this? Please help.

  • Loganview

    adding insult to injury in an already poor economy.

  • Kathleengrns

    Bob DeLeo has always come to bat when it comes to Winthrop I have every confidence this meeting on Mon Feb 27 will have alot of concerns with not only transportation but how this will affect Winthrop businesses will cease people will only have the Winthrop mktplce and the CVS here to shop which will be great for them but a little costly for others you can’t make Winthrop a horse and buggy town again that was over 100 years ago lets try to stay in this century please save our bus service!!!

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