Hiller Instinct: MBTA fare discount is smart

‘The MBTA’ and ‘smart’ are two words you don’t often hear together, but, today, they fit.

The T board decided to spend some dollars it doesn’t have to give its riders something they had to have: an indication the T knows how badly it performed.

The way a government agency admits responsibility is with money, and the just-approved free fare day and discounts will help.

What they’ll cost is not what’s most important: this is about more than free rides, it’s a very public apology that may generate some sympathy and support for the T, which it needs as much as money.

The T still has billions of dollars of repairs to make repairs that will take years to complete and the money that will go to the discounts could have been used to upgrade the system.

But, again, the T was smart not to say “We can’t afford any refunds. Everything must go to repairs”

Instead, the authority said, “Here’s something for our riders, a way of saying thank you for your suffering.”

Somewhere in all that snow that’s melting, I think I can hear some commuters saying, “Thank you to the T, because we know you didn’t have to give us anything.”