GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

January 1, 2013

MBTA report on fare impact overdue

By State House News Service
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — BOSTON — The Patrick administration won’t make deadline on its report on the effects of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority fare hikes on senior citizens and individuals with disabilities.

A law approved over the summer that bailed the T out of its budget crunch included a section requiring the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Massachusetts Office on Disability to examine the impact of the fare hikes on the “finances, employment and quality of life” of seniors and individuals with disabilities, as well as ways to mitigate those impacts.

The law requires the report to be submitted to three legislative committees and the MBTA by Jan. 1, 2013.

But Martina Jackson, director of communications at the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, confirmed Monday that the report is not ready and researchers are still trying to gather survey responses from 5,000 people who were selected to provide feedback.

They survey became available Dec. 13, she said, and will be removed on Jan. 4. After using postcards to contact consumers, Jackson said, state officials are looking for responses from at least 1,000 individuals. Respondents may complete the survey on a website or take it by phone or request a hard copy. It’s not clear when the report will be filed. “It’s still in the works,” Jackson said.

The survey is available at www.mass.gov/anf/employment-equal-access-disability/oversight-agencies/mod/

The MBTA fare hikes over the summer came as the T moved to address an eight-digit budget deficit, and were put in place while MBTA officials backed off potential cuts in commuter rail service. But while the rail cuts drew intense opposition, expecially in Cape Ann, officials across the region also questioned how the hikes would affect elderly riders and those with disabilities.