Pressure Mounts on Gov. Baker to Stop Slashing MBTA Services and Jobs

Pressure Mounts on Gov. Baker to Stop Slashing MBTA Services and Jobs

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, February 25, 2021

For information, contact on behalf of the Public Transit Public Good coalition:
Orianna Tate, orianna@617mediagroup.com, 617-895-6783

Pressure Mounts on Gov. Baker to Stop Slashing MBTA Services and Jobs   

Sweeping advertising blitz highlights Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov Polito’s short-sighted approach to public transit and constant blows to MBTA riders and workers 

Watch the TV Ad here

Boston — Deeply unpopular MBTA service cuts backed by the Baker-Polito administration will be rolled out soon, and a coalition of transit riders and workers is advertising their opposition. The Public Transit Public Good Coalition launched a sweeping ad campaign Friday, drawing attention to the harsh impact of the cuts on low-income communities and communities of color who are already disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  

While deep cuts were framed initially as a necessary last resort, by December, it was clear that the cuts to service and jobs were coming from the top. Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito have disregarded the needs of hundreds of thousands of current riders, including disproportionately low-income people and people of color, by suggesting service was unneeded because buses were “empty.” 

Watch the ad here: 

“These cuts will harm communities who already have been severely affected by COVID,” said Olivia Nichols, Transit Justice Organizer, GreenRoots. GreenRoots is a member of the Public Transit Public Good coalition. “During such a severe pandemic, we should be supporting our communities of color and low-income communities. Instead, the Baker-Polito Administration is pushing measures that would restrict access to our public transit system.”

GreenRoots is a part of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition, a growing group of MBTA riders and workers fighting for an affordable and accessible MBTA system. The coalition is calling upon the Baker-Polito administration to ensure federal stimulus money received by the MBTA is used to prevent or roll back service cuts. 

“The MBTA has received more than $1 billion in federal emergency aid since the pandemic started, and more is likely to come in the next few months,” said Chrissy Lynch, Chief of Staff, Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “The Baker-Polito administration should use this money to prevent cuts and improve equity and accessibility. We need better service and a reduced low-income fare to get to jobs, school, and medical appointments. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made public transit even more critical for those in need.” 

The 60-sec video ad details the harm the MBTA staff and service cuts will cause amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It will air during prime-time and daytime television on top-rated television stations, including CNN, MSNBC, History, NECN and CNBC. 

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About Public Transit Public Good Coalition: 

Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit publictransitpublicgood.org to learn more. 

Labor, Community Groups To Baker-Polito Administration: Stop Damaging MBTA System

Labor, Community Groups To Baker-Polito Administration: Stop Damaging MBTA System

For Immediate Release:
Monday, January 25, 2021

For information contact on behalf of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition:
Orianna Tate, orianna@617mediagroup.com, 617-895-6783

Labor, Community Groups To Baker-Polito Administration: Stop Damaging MBTA System

Transit coalition demands use of millions in federal funds earmarked for the state for reversal of planned service cuts

BOSTON — Transit riders and workers from the Public Transit Public Good Coalition took a stand at Monday’s meeting of the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board to oppose the package of drastic service cuts previously approved by the board and blessed by the Baker-Polito administration.

“During this pandemic, we should be supporting our communities of color and low-income communities. Instead, they support measures that harm our people and restrict access to our public transit system,” said Lee Matsueda, Executive Director, Community Labor United. Community Labor United convenes the Public Transit Public Good coalition

Community and labor groups urged FMCB members at today’s virtual meeting to reverse their march to impose widespread cuts to bus, train, ferry, and commuter rail services. The FMCB approved those cuts in December over widespread opposition and despite a report from the MBTA Advisory Board finding that  “no budgetary justification to cut so much public transportation service at this time.” The MBTA Advisory Board is the public oversight group representing the municipalities who are served by the T and help fund it. 

The MBTA is set to receive several hundred million dollars from the federal COVID-19 relief package – the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) – passed by Congress last month. However, T management and the Baker-Polito administration still plan to move forward with the majority — though not all — of their recently approved service cuts. Such shortsighted action would bring unnecessary harm to the agency and the state’s fledgling recovery from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The MBTA plans to keep most of the cuts in place for at least the next few months even though it will be getting an injection of at least $250 million from the latest federal stimulus package. Agency officials decided instead to revive some paused capital projects and set a chunk of money aside to help restore service at a later, still-uncertain date. Governor Baker has defended the service cuts and said he’s against running trains and buses at pre-COVID levels due to reduced ridership, a policy the New York Times editorial board recently called ”small-minded and short-sighted.”

“We, the employees of the MBTA, are willing to work with management to find innovative ways to reduce costs while preserving services and protecting jobs,” said Jim Evers, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union. “Drivers are willing to work with the MBTA on tactics to quickly restore service as ridership returns. But the best way to restore service to a route is to not cut the route to begin with.”

“The board runs the risk of ramming through these cuts without knowing the full impact of what it will mean for the public,” said Mike Vartabedian, Assistant Directing Business Representative, Machinist Union District 15. “The MBTA risks making permanent cuts that could be devastating to the people and businesses that rely on public transit the most.”

Speakers also denounced Governor Baker’s decision to strike down a new legislative mandate requiring the MBTA to offer a low-income fare program

“Neighborhoods like Dorchester, Roxbury, Chinatown, Malden, Quincy, and Mattapan are home to thousands of workers whose jobs can’t be done from home, and are essential workers,” said Mark Liu, Operations and Development Director of the Chinese Progressive Association. “But they continue to make low wages and face greater workplace risks than ever. These are health care, restaurant, maintenance, and other workers who still commute every day. Many others have lost their jobs due to COVID. No one should not have to choose between paying for transit or paying for rent, food or childcare. The Legislature was right to pass the low-income fare.The Baker-Polito administration veto is a blow to Commonwealth residents who are struggling to make ends meet.”

Several coalition members said they hoped the FMCB would continue their advocacy for a low income fare program, as well as use new revenues to minimize and roll back cuts. The Coalition believes the MBTA should receive increased funding from progressive revenues such as an increase in the corporate income tax, in addition to using the expected CRRSAA federal aid – a follow-up to the broader CARES Act that provided – to offset the T’s projected budget shortfall. 

Changes to commuter rail and ferry service took effect on Saturday. In addition to the COVID relief bill approved by Congress last month, President Joe Biden has proposed another disaster relief bill containing another $20 billion earmarked for transit authorities. While passage is far from assured, it gives additional reasons for the FMCB and the Baker-Polito administration to reconsider slashing T service and jobs. 

“Eliminating or slashing service will only deepen existing inequities, and slow the region’s recovery by blocking access to jobs for people who cannot get to work without transit,” said Steve Tolman, President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “All of our communities deserve access to an equitable, and accessible transit system. But by barreling ahead with these service and job  cuts, the Board is ignoring the needs of those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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About Public Transit Public Good Coalition: 

Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit publictransitpublicgood.org to learn more.

Public Transit Public Good Coalition Issues Statement on the Appointment of Jamey L. Tesler as the Acting Department of Transportation Secretary

Public Transit Public Good Coalition Issues Statement on the Appointment of Jamey L. Tesler as the Acting Department of Transportation Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, January 22, 2021

For information, contact on behalf of the Public Transit Public Good coalition:
Orianna Tate, orianna@617mediagroup.com, 617-895-6783

Public Transit Public Good Coalition Issues Statement on the Appointment of Jamey L. Tesler as the Acting Department of Transportation Secretary

Boston — Public Transit Public Good, a coalition of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts, recognizes the departure of Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack for her new role as Deputy Administrator Federal Highway Administration, and the temporary appointment of Jamey L. Tesler as Acting Secretary. We look forward to working with Acting Secretary Tesler and hope we can come together on the urgent issues affecting transit workers and riders.

As they begin the process of identifying a new permanent Secretary of Transportation, the Baker-Polito administration has the opportunity to choose a new direction for transportation policy in Massachusetts. We urge the Baker-Polito administration to choose a leader who prioritizes the needs of working people, low-income communities and communities of color, and our threatened environment.

The new Secretary of Transportation should prioritize restoring and strengthening our public transit systems, including preventing and rolling back cuts at the MBTA; ensuring public transit is affordable for all in the Commonwealth; and ensuring transit workers and riders are adequately represented in transportation governance. Now more than ever, it is crucial to invest in services to help our state recover from the coronavirus pandemic’s impact. Riders and workers deserve a safe, affordable, and accessible public transit system. 

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About Public Transit Public Good Coalition: 

Public Transit Public Good is a partnership of transit workers and riders throughout Massachusetts fighting for the future of public transit. Community Labor United convenes PTPG. Visit publictransitpublicgood.org to learn more.