Yesterday evening the Globe reported that General Manager Dan Grabauskas, under pressure from the Patrick administration, agreed to rescind the nine percent executive level pay raises he approved last week. Instead, employees making less than $70,000 will receive a three percent increase.
August 19, 2008
On August 12, Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen announced that the state's transportation agencies have agreed to pool their resources in an effort to help the MBTA and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. Like the T, the Pike is facing a severe budget deficit. While the T is planning a large fare increase in 2010, the Pike is currently deciding whether to raise tolls in January. It's unclear what Secretary Cohen's effort will yield at this point. The Globe reports that Cohen is considering suggestions from agency officials and will make those ideas public.
But according to Mark Slater in a letter to the editor published last week in the Globe, the MBTA's service failures aren’t only due to finances. Slater writes about the "widely reviled" Silver Line Phase III as one example of the T ignoring viable, affordable options in favor of expensive, unpopular and unnecessary projects.
In the meantime, the MBTA granted a nine percent raise to non-union employees, including managers that make an average of $83,650. General Manager Dan Grabauskas defended the move, saying that the raise is customary and matches the salary increases that union employees are receiving. T Riders Union (TRU) organizer René Mardones responded in both the Globe and Herald, saying that the T cannot afford to operate as usual during a financial crisis. A responsible transit authority would prioritize service improvements and work to prevent future fare increases.
The T’s financial woes particularly affect lower income communities and communities of color who rely on public transit. Environmental justice communities deserve reliable, affordable service that the T is not providing. For more information or comments on the MBTA’s finances, email René and drop by the next TRU meeting on August 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the ACE office.