Thursday, March 5, 2009

Patrick's bill puts kabosh on toll discount

Deep within Governor Patrick's transportation bill, sitting quietly in Section 43, is a provision that eliminates the residential toll exemption, which lowers the cost of traveling through the harbor tunnels and over the Tobin Bridge for residents of neighborhoods that are affected by those projects. Instead, residents of East Boston, South Boston, Charlestown, the North End, Winthrop and Chelsea "shall pay a toll fixed at $.50 above the one-way full rapid transit fare as established from time to time" by the MBTA.

Currently, the full fare -- not the CharlieCard fare -- is $2, which means the tunnel tolls for Eastie residents would immediately jump from 40 cents to $2.50, and then the price would go up with T fare increases.

City Councilor Sal LaMattina, in an open letter to the governor, notes the impositions that the state's transportation infrastructure has directly placed on these communities for decades (well, except for Winthrop, which seems to have been added in a nod to the new House speaker). The councilor also rightly points out that residents of Eastie, Southie, Charlestown and the North End aren't going "into the city of Boston" -- in the language of Section 43 -- but, rather, moving around within their city.

This provision is the first real test to see if Jim Aloisi, the new transportation secretary, has forgotten about his old neighborhood, or if he is willing to step up and to defend a community that has been kicked around by big transportation interests for decades.


Matthew said...

Thanks for digging that out of the bill. I saw that mentioned in an article a few weeks ago, but I didn't know it got into the bill. These politicians don't seem to understand how we use these tunnels. The majority of people I know who work in the city already ride the train to work, but if we want to drive any direction but North-East, we have to pay the state a toll. Why can't any of them see how unjust this is?

Anonymous said...

$2.50 it is. Debate will be over before it begins. Someone's gotta pay for the Deval's Deville.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the bill has a chance of passing. The legislature is not going to go to its constituents with a gas-tax hike in this economy...suicide. Instead people without the discount will eat the toll increases because they have little other options. Just like they have int he past and just like MBTA riders continue to do.

If Deval had his way they would just bulldoze the rest of the neighborhood and make it parking lots, runways and casinos...Las Boston.

Eric said...

Yeah, thanks for picking that out, it's the first I heard of a proposed change.

JohnW said...

I wouldn't be so sure that this bill doesn't get passed. Patrick is doing the full push on this (visits out to the western hinterlands -- Springfield) and it actually appears that people may finally be coming around to the idea that maybe sacrifices need to be made. I've heard more than a few people saying that a gas tax is probably an inevitable if not good, measure.

Which means for those of us getting screwed in Chelsea, East Boston , etc. we'll have to raise holy hell to make sure the discounts don't get axed. A discount on the T only cuts it if the State wants to reimburse me for the additional two hours it would take me to use our wonderfully managed public transportation system to get to and from work (it now takes me 15 minutes going and about 35 minutes coming back). Not to mention a life-time supply of Brioschi.

How much more money will they actually raise from Eastie and Chelsea residents? Some of the least able to pay communities that bear the biggest environmental burden of this crappy transportation infrastructure will now get the additional financial burden (which like everyone else we already felt through our taxes for this mess). Somebody's neck must be chafing from the squeeze their sphincter is putting on it.

Mary B. said...

I'm hoping that Anthony, Carlo and Sal have someone checking this blog frequently to assess the sentiments of residents on many issues, including the fight to keep our tunnels' discount. I'm also hoping Gus Serra is calling all our current elected officials, and those who are close to them and help them to form policy decisions, to remind them of the history of why the discount was implemented in the first place. Of course, as with all our community fights, the powers that be are banking on the fact that fewer and fewer East Bostonians read the local paper, attend public hearings, or call and/or write to elected officials or agencies. As our demographics change and there is less and less historical memory and knowledge of past fights and slights for East Boston, we are losing our ability to steer decision making that most impacts us. It is incumbent upon those of us residents with that knowledge to impart it to our fellow East Bostonians.

Finally, I'm hoping that our elected representatives, state and local, choose to remember that history and do the right: fight to make sure that the Governor and the Turnpike Authority do not inflict further injustice upon East Boston.

Anonymous said...

You heard it hear first. East Boston becomes a very depressed area. All of the great work Cafe 303, Meridian 155, Dough, Meridian Market and the other quality joints will move their businesses else where and will be taken over by a few salons and burrito joints. $2.50 for access to the city. You can't get people into East Boston because of the tolls and now your forcing the residents out. The Chelsea food district is going to be jammed packed with traffic and will become a hazard because emergency vehicles wont be able to navigate the area safely.
Keep the resident discount, tax booze and be more aggressive with citations. East Boston has a great future without the tolls but with, you isolate it from becoming a prominent area.
It is time the residents fight back.

Jenafah said...

I live in East Boston.
I work in Newton.
I pay tolls for the TW and the Pike.

My boyfriend lives in Hopktinton.
He pays the same tolls every weekend.

My contractor lives in Framingham.
4 of my good friends live in Stoneham, Providence.
They get hit with the tolls when they leave my house.

Do the math. It is extremely costly for me to be living in EB! I know that I am not alone.

My friends have already told me that they will be coming to my house less if the toll hike goes through. What my contractor pays in tolls will be added to his jobs.

I will need to move out of EB in order to maintain my current lifestyle and relationships.


Oh... and I can't wait try getting a cab home without getting verbally assaulted.

Eastie Girl said...

Anonymous at 11:22 - you raise a very valid point. If they taxed booze and were more agressive with citations - I'm sure the state would raise exponentially more cash. Instead they choose to reach for the the old stand by. Imagine if they actually enforced fines? They would raise money AND get a lot of folks to clean up their acts.

Anonymous said...

I think you guys are missing the point. Before looking to tax the residents of this state more, let's start cutting waste! How about expense reductions before jacking up the tolls and taxes every year.

Anonymous said...

This is really rotten. I will have to move from East Boston. If I rented I would be out ASAP, but with owning a house it will take longer. I will sell at a loss to get out before things get worse though, and I can't imagine that they won't. It's sad because I love living in East Boston and I think my family contributes to the betterment of the community.

I'm glad to hear that LaMattina is doing something. And I know the mayor has bigger fish to fry right now, but I hope he puts a little effort into advocating for his Eastie constituents....Does anyone know if anything Basile or Petrucelli are doing? They seem to be missing in action in more ways than one for this community from what I can tell. And they are the state level people--seems like they should do something...

Things like this make me start to wonder if the powers that be really do want to turn Eastie into one big parking lot for the airport, that they really are just trying to drive everyone out. It's pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Anthony and Carlo are both working hard on this issue at the state house.Sal is for keeping parking meters on till 2am but because its an election year has jumped on this to grandstand.NOBODY in EB should vote for Deval Patrick next year.He has demonstrated a disdain for this community as has Aloisi,an EB native.Next year you can get rid of both of them.VOTE!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Basile and Petruccelli are working hard on this issue too - but I don't see any reason to knock Sal LaMattina because he is doing the job he was elected to. I can think of worse things that could be happening. Elected officials being vocal on issues and making the concern of the people they represent known is better than not hearing anything at all from them on the topic.

Anonymous said...

eliminate all the $28.00 an hour hack bums at the toll booth first, lease out the greenway in boston to developers, let them put sky scrapers on top of the greenway land,there is your revenue, if they raise the tolls in eastie, no one in the future will consider living or raising a dog in this community.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious folks, travaglini once had the upper hand on this state,he knew ahead in time before he made a move to winthrop that east boston's headed in shiits creek,its the US secretary of transportation vs East Boston the government always wins.