One of the funny things in life is the lack of planning by this country. Often, because there's no planning from the top, what makes sense at the personal level is absolutely devastating to the country as a whole. Just look at Urban sprawl: it's cheaper to live in suburbs and exurbs, people get better schools and actually have a yard. However, it means cities no longer have middle classes and their educational systems suffer from a smaller taxpayer base and less parents interested in the system. It also means the environment suffers because of increased traffic and huge neighborhoods were jettisoned in favor of highways en masse. It makes sense on the individual level to move out of cities - and the further out, the better - but it comes at an extreme societal cost.
If I make that trip about three times a week, the total marginal cost to me for a month is about $6.00, or about $9.00 when gas prices are near $3/gallon. By T, it's $30/month, and about to go up to over $40/month. A new T pass, at $59/month, is equivalent to the marginal cost of making 236 trips to Davis or back! And if I stop on the way, say to pick up something at a store, or meet a friend? By car, no extra cost. By T, it's another $1.25 if I don't have a pass.
The result: I could be taking the T, but instead, I'm on the roads. Increasing traffic congestion, increasing pollution, increasing gas consumption, increasing health & injury risks. Because the T is too expensive!
The same goes for transportation. It makes sense, at an individual level, for people to drive. If I want to visit my friend in Boston, I could take the T or drive. If I take the T, I have to pay $3 at Wonderland for parking (plus 30 minutes of traffic and gas to get there and back). Then another $2.50 for T passes, which will soon go up to about $3.50. Add to that the fact I need to leave early so I can get the T back home and it soon becomes apparent to see just why I've been driving in lately.
Contrast taking the T with driving and I need only pay for the gas and $3 bucks in tolls, which I could avoid if I wanted to. My friend has some free parking nearby her apartment, it's much quicker to drive in (about an hour vs. 30 minutes). Best of all, I can leave when I want (and even stay over) and pay much, much less for it.
With a hefty portion of Boston living in poverty, we're talking about a lot of money here.
At the risk of quoting myself, I think I made a good point in the diary. I'll end this blog there.
The T is a public service, it should be getting enough support from Beacon Hill that it should never be in the red. It doesn't have to make all its money back from riders because non-riders depend on it too. Given that hundreds of thousands of employees who work in Boston or nearby areas use the T, those employers have an invested stake in the T actually working and delivering their crew. Therefore, their invested stake means some of their tax dollars should be going into it without complaint.