T official criticizes CommonWealth story
Says story was incorrect and inappropriate
THE VICE CHAIR of the MBTA’s oversight board tweeted on Thursday that she was “deeply disappointed” with the headline and narrative used in a CommonWealth story dealing with service cuts to address a budget shortfall that could be anywhere from $300 million to $600 million.
The headline on the story, which ran on Monday, said “T targets white, wealthier riders with service cuts,” and the piece went on to report that the transit authority planned to “retain or improve services that cater to low-income, minority riders who either don’t have cars or limited access to them. T officials say many of those riders have continued to ride the T during the pandemic and are more likely to return when the danger subsides. Under the T’s current plan, cuts would be focused on services with low ridership or those that cater to higher-income white riders, even if those services had high ridership prior to the pandemic.”
Monica Tibbits-Nutt, the vice chair of the Fiscal and Management Control Board, tweeted that the tough financial position facing the T and other transit authorities around the country requires that tradeoffs be made and the priority in making those tradeoffs must be transit-critical populations. She said the T’s definition of transit-critical populations crosses racial and social-economic categories.The definition has changed a bit over the last two weeks. In a September 14 presentation, T staff defined transit-critical populations as low income, people of color, and zero or low car households. On Monday, the definition was amended in the appendix of the presentation to add seniors and people with disabilities.
The CommonWealth story reported on a T analysis that used ferry service between Boston and Hingham as an area where service could be reduced or eliminated. The analysis said “ferries may be considered high ridership propensity but low transit critical population,” meaning the boats have the potential to attract a large number of riders but not the type of riders the T is prioritizing. The analysis said ferry ridership is 4 percent low income, 2 percent minority, and 33 percent zero-to-one car households. The analysis said riders of the ferry could just as easily drive to a nearby commuter line.