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MBTA service cuts and fare increases would affect Walpole

January 24, 2012

The below was written by a reader and a friend of 180, Walpole resident Ryan Norton. Norton is an avid follower and active user of the state’s public transportation system and made me aware of the below proposals that would affect Walpole residents. The MBTA has the largest debt burden of any public transportation system in the nation, and is trying to address their gaping $161 million budget deficit with service reductions and fare increases. You can read more about their proposals here. Currently Walpole is served by full-time MBTA commuter rail train service, including two stops each weekday at Plimptonville station; service via the 34E bus; and service through the RIDE program for handicapped individuals. These cuts are yet another reason why expanding commuter rail service through Walpole to Gillette Stadium on a full-time basis is a bad idea – the MBTA clearly can not afford it and I would only support it in better fiscal times (although many are opposed to it anyway because it goes through their backyards):

I’ve always been glad that we can get to Boston every day of the week, but it’s easy to take for granted. As some of us may know, the MBTA is in serious debt and has decided to cut back on service while raising fares. The MBTA has created two scenarios as a way to keep as much service as possible with a large fare increase (Scenario 1), and to have a smaller fare increase while cutting more service (Scenario 2). Neither one is inevitable, but they are probably close to what will happen. I don’t know how many people are aware of the proposed changes, so I have outlined what this means for Walpole below.

First, here’s what will happen to the Commuter Rail from Walpole: under Scenario 1, the price of a one-way ticket to Boston will climb from the current $5.75 to $8.25 in Scenario 1, or $7.50 in Scenario 2.  A monthly pass will increase from the current $186 up to $258 under Scenario 1, or $235 in Scenario 2. The main problem, however, is that under both scenarios the commuter rail will be cut after 10:00 p.m. and will no longer run on weekends! If you miss this train, you will have to go to Forest Hills and take the 34E bus, which I will discuss next.

Here is the plan for the 34E: the fare will increase from the current $1.25 up to $1.75 under Scenario 1, or $1.50 under Scenario 2. While under Scenario 1 the 34E will continue as is, under Scenario 2 there will be some cutting. I recently attended a community meeting in Roxbury and saw a map outside in the foyer that showed the 34E as being cut back to the Peggy Lawton factory in East Walpole. Inside, the presentation showed it as being cut back to the Norwood/Walpole Line!  In this case, there will no longer be a transportation link from Walpole to Boston on the weekends!

Finally, the most important part: The Ride Paratransit. For those that need it, anywhere in Walpole costs $2.00 per ride. However, the MBTA is looking at adding a “Premium Zone” that consists of areas outside of the ADA-mandated service area, which is ¾ mile from the 34E line.  Under Scenario 1 riders will be charged $4.50 inside the ADA zone and a whopping $12.00 outside it, while under Scenario 2 riders will be charged $3.50 inside the ADA zone and $5.00 outside it. Remember that in Scenario 2 the ADA zone only covers a small part of East Walpole.

In the Central Transportation Planning Staff’s study on the Southwest Corridor (i.e. the towns southwest of Boston), they say that Walpole, Norwood, Canton, and Stoughton will have a large increase in intracity trips by 2030. Now, here we are in 2012, Walpole might lose the 34E, and Canton might lose the bus in their town. Will that be overturned in eighteen years? Somehow I doubt it. A new housing development is going to be built at the Walpole Woodworker’s site on Route 27, along the route.

I hope that these cuts will be stopped. It is unfair that they have been saddled in debt from the Big Dig. The MBTA is holding community meetings throughout the area and we need to make our voices heard. We also need to ask our elected officials to make a stand. It is not fair for commuters like us to lose our service.

In the above map, the black line is the 34E between Peggy Lawton’s and the Norwood Line, the gray line is the rest of the 34E in town, the dark green line is the boundary between ADA and Premium in Scenario 1, the medium green is the boundary between ADA and Premium in Scenario 2A (the 34E is cut back to Peggy Lawton’s), and the light green is the boundary between ADA and Premium in Scenario 2B (the 34E is cut back to the Norwood Line). The red line is the town boundary.

Editor’s Note: There is no mention in the service reductions and fares proposal from the MBTA whether Plimptonville station would be affected.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ryan Norton permalink
    January 25, 2012 12:28 PM

    Thank you Sam for publishing this. One thing I want to make clear about the map is that it was made by me using Microsoft Streets and Trips 2010, and the boundaries are not quite exact, however they are very close.

  2. tom cunningham permalink
    February 7, 2012 3:41 PM

    IMHO………the MBTA needs cut the ferry service and allocate the funds to areas that have a large majority of it riders who have no other means of transportation. Paying a private boat company 3.2 Million in subsidizes to areas where the average person has a big house with a 2 car garage makes no sense. If the people in those areas want or need to take public transportation, let them jump on a bus or train like the rest of us.

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