T Riders Make Last Push to Influence Board

By WGBH News & Wires

April 4, 2012

mbta protest

Youth organizer Najma Nazy'at with veteran organizer Mel King at the 24-hour vigil. (Phillip Martin/WGBH)

BOSTON — In the hours leading up to a key Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority board meeting, protesters gathered to decry a fare hike.

> > READ: The MBTA's fare hike/service cut plan (mbta.com)

Karen Schneiderman of the Boston Center for Independent Living was there to support The Ride, which is the T’s paratransit system for people with disabilities.

“Many people are on a fixed income. We have a 75 percent unemployment rate. Most people with disabilities don’t have the money even to pay for The Ride now, but if it were increased by 100 percent or more, we’re in trouble,” Schneiderman said.

WGBH News' Phillip Martin describes the scene at the vigil.

Taking a page from the Occupy Movement, several dozen teenagers laid out sleeping bags and mats in front of the State House Tuesday night in a seemingly last-ditch effort to stop T fares from rising. The 24-hour vigil was organized by the T Riders Union and the Youth Affordability Coalition. They asked the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority board to consider creating a special pass for students. Even with discounts, the youth at this rally said they simply could not afford a fare hike.
Organizers said direct action could be the only way to get T board members and legislators to agree to modify the latest plan, which would raise fares an average of 23 percent. Some fear it would disproportionately affect young people, seniors and people with disabilities.

In the afternoon and into the night Tuesday, several lawmakers stood on the steps of the State House to lend verbal support. Occupy Boston members dropped off materials, food and other supplies for the students. And Gov. Deval Patrick sent a representative to meet with the protesters.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. Contributors include WGBH News reporters Phillip Martin and Sarah Birnbaum. 

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