BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is laying off workers and cutting services in the face of a budget deficit.
A new survey from the MassINC polling group found a majority of Commonwealth residents oppose the MBTA service cuts, which include stopping 20 bus routes entirely and reducing subway, commuter rail and ferry service. Stacy Thompson, executive director at the Livable Streets Alliance, said not only do these cuts harm MBTA workers themselves, but they also cause difficulties for essential workers of all stripes who rely on public transportation to get to work each day.
She said even those Commonwealth residents outside of the MBTA service area see the value in a well-funded transit system.
"There's a false narrative that the whole state pays for the T but only a small number of people benefit from it. The whole state benefits from the economic engine of our transit system," Thompson said. "And it was very clear that the people of Massachusetts understood that when they opposed these service cuts."
Thompson said the state has long under-invested in the MBTA, relying too heavily on train fares for revenue. She said the cuts are a reaction to the already-existing budget deficit as well as the fear it will grow in future years.
Thompson said the T has been committed to keeping services running in Black, Brown and indigenous communities and lower-income communities where bus ridership has been resilient. But she said people use the MBTA to connect to other parts of the city, so cutting routes in the wealthy, white areas still may have a profound impact on essential workers of color.
"For example, if you are a home health care aide and you take the bus to the commuter rail to get to the homes where you're caring for people who really need access to the services right now, if the commuter rail services are cut by 20%, you can't get to your job," she said.
She said the MBTA is going to be an essential piece of Massachusetts' economic recovery. She supports more funding for the MBTA rather than service cuts and layoffs of well-paid, unionized workers.