BOSTON (WHDH) - Lawmakers, union workers and and riders plan to hold a virtual rally Friday calling for Gov. Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to use federal funding to reinstitute services.
A Massachusetts delegation pushed for $1 billion in stimulus funds to help the MBTA recover from the pandemic; however, the agency recently made service cuts to all subway routes, some buses and commuter rail lines all while talking about furloughing 40 conductors.
Mike Vartabedian, a transit union official and spokesman for the Public Transit Public Good Coalition, said that, “With a billion dollars coming in, they should see how this plays out.”
He added that public transportation is crucial to many.
“The people that we’re talking about need public transit,” Vartabedian said, “so by eliminating their routes, you’re really killing their lifeline to a grocery store, a doctor’s appointment, to get to work.”
A congressional delegation sent a letter Wednesday to MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak that read in part, “We urge you to provide evidence that justifies decreased service despite this robust federal relief.”
The MBTA released the following statement: “As it plans ahead for the long-term budget impacts of the pandemic, the T will responsibly spend federal stimulus dollars and monitor ridership and make adjustments as necessary.”
Rally organizers say reduction in service can be solved with only a fraction of the federal aid.
“They owe it to the taxpayers, the riders, the workers to avoid these cuts and see how this vaccine affects the ridership,” Vartabedian said.
The MBTA says it is facing annual budget deficits between $350 and $400 million and that these service cuts would only save about $21 million this fiscal year.
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