Okay, I went to the BPL for the MBTA meeting on the fare proposal. It was rowdier than the JP one, so much so the mayor had to keep the chanters in line. I spoke 25th and proposed a couple of ideas. Because my speech had actual content in it a BU student interviewed me after. So this is what I wrote to the MBTA:
Subject Heading: Here are a couple of ideas
To whom it may concern:
Tonight I (Eric Cheung) spoke at the meeting at the Boston Public Library. I wanted to take what I learned from the meeting at Jamaica Plain and try to extrapolate solutions for the deficit problem. I learned that a gas tax would be considered an unfair consumer tax to those who don't bother with the Greater Boston area. I learned that the disabled, senior citizens, students, and those in low-income housing are disproportionately affected by these changes. And I grew frustrated that the bulk of this debt is derived from the cost overruns of the Big Dig. So I proposed the following, with major input from my girlfriend Mary Beth LaRivee, as a way to target revenue-increases in a more egalitarian way that doesn't burden people who don't travel to Boston, nor crippled those who can't afford such drastic changes to their daily lives:
The MBTA and this debt should be audited to strengthen enforcement and streamline current policies. The people responsible for the cost overruns of the Big Dig will never truly be held accountable, but they should have funded an expansion of services with fines against them.
Or maybe target those that would benefit without placing the fiscal burden of that benefit on those that would be crippled by the MBTA's current proposals. Tax businesses that reside in the MBTA service area at tiered percentages based on annual profits. Their help funding the MBTA would actually increase their business by building on record ridership.
Another option could be a London-style congestion tax on cars visiting the city to encourage the use of public transportation over driving on Interstate 93 and the labyrinthine tunnels and lanes that make up the Big Dig.
Maybe these ideas won't work in full, but maybe they can get the conversation started. Maybe they can inspire different ideas, while articulating the need to avoid targeting the weakest. I hope there's something here you can use.
Before I went to the meeting in Jamaica Plain two weeks ago I was skeptical that a solution without service cuts and fare hikes was possible. Now I don't see how these proposals alone could work.
Eric Cheung & Mary Beth LaRivee