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Editorial: Applaud new MBTA proposal

Published: February 17, 2012
Section: Front Page


Under mounting pressure for seeking large cuts in transport service, the MBTA has released a subsequent proposal with a range of alternatives to make up the budget shortfall. We applaud the attempt, which has steps that would be a great improvement to loss of service.

The authority suggested a 50-cent surcharge on concert tickets, as these large events contribute greatly to service use on the T. This proposal is sound, and would be nearly painless per person affected while raising $5 million. We approve of it so much that we believe surcharge should even be increased to $1 per ticket, doubling the amount of money raised to $10 million. It could also include convention center attendance rates and other large events—a dollar more for a downtown event ticket is much easier than a dramatic loss of T service for everyone, including the concert-goer.

The extra money in the doubling would allow the MBTA to drop a disturbing portion of its new proposal: the requested $2 million in “advertising” it seeks from places who have named stations, like Harvard, Boston University and Brandeis. Our university would be charged $50,000 for the Brandeis/Roberts commuter rail station. The advertising idea is shallow and demands far more money for name recognition than the stops deserve.

Universities already pay enough under the other parts of the plan. More than $10 million would be extracted from colleges, museums and other institutions that make use of the T for their high level of visitors. As long as these fees assessed were distributed in a way so that groups with different levels of monetary gain from the T were paying fairly representative rates, the plan can be swallowed without too much hardship.

All of these ideas are steps in the right direction away from would-be disastrous cuts to weekend commuter rail and other services. Boston with its T is one of the most tourist-friendly cities in the nation, and is completely without rival for its student population.

There’s no making “Boston” without a strong “T.”