I was encouraged by the large crowd that gathered last evening in the City Council chamber to speak against proposed decreases in train service to Lowell and increases in the cost of riding the train. As I said at the public hearing, it is mind boggling to think that in 2012 we would find ourselves at a meeting where the topic is a recommendation to reduce access to mass transit. At a time when every reasonable institution, business, organization, individual, and family is trying to save energy and protect our environment through more “sustainable” behavior, why are we talking about making it more difficult to use a train to travel between Lowell and Boston?
Would a 10 percent increase in the fare be justifiable? Maybe. But not the huge increase being proposed by the MBTA. Would a slight adjustment in the weekend schedule on the Lowell-Boston line be defensible? Maybe. But not the plan to wipe out weekend service.
The MBTA certainly got the public’s attention. There is passion around this issue. You could feel it in City Hall last night. The opposition was spontaneous. It was personal. It was professional. It was immediate. This is the kind of change that would hit people where they live. It would be bad for everyone who lives and works in this area, as well as for those who count on the public being able to easily visit and do business in the city and region. We need the train. We need late service. We need weekend service. And the cost should be fair and affordable.