MBTA riders will have nearly a dozen opportunities over the next month-plus to voice feedback about impending service cuts, and to complete an online survey that officials will use to help guide the inevitably unpopular decisions.
The cash-strapped T scheduled 11 virtual meetings in November and early December to solicit commuter input on MBTA train, bus and ferry services as it weighs tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to close a budget deficit fueled by declining ridership.
The federal government has delivered relief funds but a state revenue package for the T has idled. All meetings will be held over Zoom, and schedules and access information are available online.
Two of the events, each at 6 p.m. on Nov. 19 and Dec. 2, are intended to be system-wide discussions covering any MBTA service, while the other nine are aimed at different regions where some form of T service runs.
Ridership remains at a fraction of pre-COVID levels, prompting MBTA officials to forecast a revenue gap of as much as half a billion dollars hitting in fiscal year 2022.
The agency’s Fiscal and Management Control Board is preparing to vote in December on a package of service cuts to help balance the budget, although the exact service cuts have not been outlined.
The T also urged commuters Wednesday to fill out an online survey seeking public opinion on how the agency should prioritize services amid the financial strain.
“Given the continuing pandemic and economic dislocation, T ridership on some routes and services may not return to pre-COVID levels for a long time,” Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in a press release. “MassDOT and the MBTA are actively searching for other ways to replace lost fare revenue, such as using flexible federal dollars to minimize the operating budget impacts. But using limited resources to operate underutilized trains, ferries, and buses is not a responsible use of the money provided to the MBTA by riders, communities, and taxpayers.”
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