By David Li, bostonese.com
According to a press release by Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), at 4 PM this Friday, March 23, high school aged members of CPA’s Chinese Youth Initiative and other students in Chinatown will sit outside Tufts New England Medical Center(TNEMC) station to protest the proposed massive fare increases and service cuts by MBTA. They are hoping to raise awareness of this issue that will impact lives of many people who depend on public transportation.
On March 14, about 50 elder residents in Chinatown protected outside Mass. Transportation Department building on Kneeland street while a meeting on the proposed fare hike was going on. They were joined by over 100 protesters from various other groups. Shi-Ang Yee, president of Chinatown Resident Association(CRA), expressed his outrage about the proposed fare hikes. “Public transportation was neglected by the government for a long time when billions of dollars was spent on the Big Dig. The problem should not be passed on to riders by raising the fare,” he said.
Members from CPA and CRA were protesting outside state transportation building on March 14.
Chinatown is home to over 6,000 residents, many of which would be heavily affected by either proposal. Dissatisfied with the MBTA’s proposed solutions, the Chinese Youth Initiative are taking a lead in mobilizing Chinatown youth to ensure their access to public transit remains affordable. On Friday, Chinatown youth will sit outside of TNEMC T stop holding signs and handing out leaflets to protest the two MBTA proposals that threaten increased fares and cut services.
Chinatown youth rely heavily on MBTA services to access their school, recreational spaces, tutoring, enrichment programs, and other resources. Being surrounded by popular urban hubs such as Downtown or the Financial District, Chinatown is at the center of Green, Orange, Red and Silver Lines. With a proposal that could result in a 100% increase on student and senior passes, students may be weighed down by a new cost.
Kasey Shen, 16, spoke about the importance of her T pass and the impact of a fare increase. “I use my student pass everyday to get to and from school. I depend on the red line and two buses, which will be cut in proposal 2, to get into Chinatown for different activities. The student pass, for us, is already $22. I work, but it is a financial burden for my mother to buy T-passes for my younger siblings even before the 100% increase.”
According to the press release by CPA, the MBTA faces the largest debt burden of any transit system in the country and as a result, they are in a $185 million deficit for fiscal year 2013. Simultaneously, ridership on the T this year has reached an unprecedented number, customers take over 1.3 million trips each day. If the MBTA is to continue operating under the same funding system, the deficit will increase greatly through the next several years.
The “Forward Funding” law passed in 2000 rendering the MBTA funding independent from the State budget while also saddling them with billions of dollars of debt from projects like the Big Dig. Instead, the MBTA receives 20% of State sales tax as a large portion of their funding, but the actual numbers were far from the projected revenue. In an attempt to address the issue, the MBTA has set forth two proposals that focus on increasing fares and cutting services.