Opinion

Krause: Fare hikes make dollars and sense for the MBTA

Lost in the hubbub of President Trump’s new budget requests and the Patriots losing two key players to free agency was the news that the MBTA’s board of directors voted Monday to approve a fare increase of 6.2 percent.

The increase, proposed two months ago, would take effect July 1, and include an additional 15 cents for rapid transit while commuter rates will vary. The T opted to leave bus fares alone.

As you can imagine, these increases will not be met with a warm embrace. However, they are necessary, or would you rather sit on a disabled train or wait in a freezing cold Orient Heights subway station for one to be cleared from the tracks?

The MBTA is like the weather. You can scream at it, curse it, do your best to prepare for its unpredictability and still be caught flat-footed when something goes wrong with it. The one day you need the bus to be on time, it isn’t. The one time you really need to get home from work in a hurry, the commuter rail is a half-hour behind or a Blue Line train gets stuck between Aquarium and Maverick stations.

Rush-hour trains pour into stations with so many people on board that you can’t even squeeze through the door.

Been there. Done that. And have numerous T-shirts to prove it. I’ve been late for classes in college, late for job interviews, late for Red Sox and/or Bruins games I was supposed to cover, and, on a few occasions, late for dinner, because of subway disasters. I even took the T once to a high school baseball game in East Boston, and on the way back the train stopped long enough between Beachmont and Revere for me to see a man involved in a police pursuit on foot shoot himself in the head.

Like Bo knows baseball, Steve knows subways. Tell me any of your favorite MBTA horror stories, and chances are I’ve lived it.

You’d think that with all these experiences such a part of me, I’d be furious at the idea of draining 15 cents more off my Charlie card every time I rode the subway, but you’d be wrong. The fee increases are necessary. Not only that, I’d be happy if the cost of public transportation was widened to include other avenues. The T needs the money just to fix the problems it has. Otherwise, there might not even be a T in another decade (if it takes that long).

But it goes further than that. People need to grow up to the fact that admonitions about climate change are not lies being spread by moonbat environmentalists. Climate change is real. And it needs to be dealt with.

One great way to start is to invest heavily in public transportation and to spread the expense as evenly as possible. Not only does the MBTA need to better serve the passengers it has now, it really needs to service even more people.

In a perfect world, public transportation should either be free or so inexpensive that people with no other way to get around (read: who do not own a car) can use it.

But it’s not a perfect world. We can’t even agree that the world is round (hello, you flat-earthers) let alone tackling something as complex as this.

But think about it a few minutes. Have you bought a car lately? Some cars cost more now than my first house did in 1977. Eventually, and not too far off into the future either, an entire economic class of people will not be able to afford to buy a car. Their only hope is public transportation.

Driving almost anywhere during the week is akin to waiting at the starting line at the Boston Marathon. Traffic, traffic and more traffic. Think of all those exhaust fumes eating away at what’s left of the ozone layer.

There has never been a more critical time for public transportation than right now, but it costs increasing amounts of money. And it can’t all come from users, because it doesn’t affect just users. A good public transportation system has a positive ripple effect on everyone — just like a bad one can result in a negative ripple.

Motorists should pay accordingly, even if they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into this realization because they will benefit from what is hoped is increased ridership.

If you’re raising subway rates 15 cents, then raise tolls into Boston commensurately. If it costs an extra 10 cents to take a bus, then raise the gasoline tax commensurately.

This is — or should be — a shared experience. It’s really time for people to understand that.

Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com.

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