To: Rep. Martin J. Walsh; Members of the Joint Committee on Transportation
Dear Sirs and Mesdames,
I’ve been reading quite in a bit in the last month or so about the MBTA’s financial problems and plans to both increase fares and cut quite a lot or service at the same time, which seems incredibly unfair.
The reason the MBTA has all of these financial problems is because the legislature several years ago decided to stop funding the MBTA directly and fully, and instead link the MBTA’s funding to a portion of the sales tax. At or around the same time, the legislature decided to transfer an incredibly large portion of debt from the Big Dig to the MBTA for reasons that I still fail to understand.
Since these changes in the MBTA’s funding and debt were enacted, sales tax revenues declined, and then as if to make sure that even more people go to New Hampshire to make big-ticket purchases to avoid sales tax, the sales tax rate was increased! So now, the MBTA makes less and less money from tax revenues every year, while its struggles to repay debts from an unrelated transportation project continue to get worse. As a result, the MBTA is now in the miserable position of having to increase fares, which most T riders could live with if the service were going to remain at the same level, but also at the same time cutting service by removing entire bus routes and possibly all weekend commuter rail service.
This is completely unacceptable.
The only way the MBTA is going to be able to continue to function in the coming decade or two is by having the Massachusetts legislature fix the problem that it created. I urge you and your colleagues to find a way to first transfer the crippling Big Dig debt away from the MBTA and place it with MassHighway where it belongs, and then repeal the destructive sales tax funding requirement and allow the Commonwealth to fully fund the MBTA.
Thank you for your time.