The MBTA tonight launched a series of public meetings to gauge the public's feedback on its proposed fare hikes and service cutbacks, but the early verdict on Twitter is not at all favorable.
A search of #MBTA on Twitter over last few days turned up negative comments about slow trains and packed cars, many of them placed in the context of the proposed fare hikes that MBTA officials say are needed to keep the transportation system running.
"Stuck standing on a packed Lowell train with no power sitting at West Medford. Can't wait til i get to pay 40% more for this honor. #mbta,'' @Bruins309 tweeted one day last week.
There's an @OccupyMBTA account, as well. "Help us tell the MBTA that we will not tolerate fare increases OR service reduction,'' the account's authors say.
One response came from @mattjcloyd, who tweeted: "Be like the ear-splitting screech at the Boylston stop and maybe the MBTA will let you keep hearing it."
Tonight, the MBTA held the first of 17 public hearings on the proposed fare hikes and service cutbacks. The first meeting started at 5:30 pm at Newton City Hall and a second hearing was to start at 6 pm in Worcester.
Transit officials say they need to raise fares as much as 43 percent to close a projected $161 million budget gap. Another scenario calls for a more modest hike of 35 percent, but accompanied by more extensive service cuts.
Both plans would end commuter rail service on weekends and ferry service in Boston Harbor.
Meanwhile, WGBH radio host Callie Crossley aired a show today on the proposed fare hikes. Her show's Facebook page showed a mixed reaction.
"I would pay a premium if T hours were extended later into the night. Though the real solution to this problem is getting the state to take on some of the massive debt and interest payments the MBTA is saddled with,'' one poster wrote on the show's Facebook page.
Here are other comments on Twitter, found via the MBTA hashtag.
Nothing like being on an #mbta commuter rail that is at 110% capacity. If only our state new how to budget and plan past next year...
@mbtaGM late nite service hrs would be worth a fare increase & make streets safer. getting same old for more $ is never a good deal #mbta
Nice to the #MBTA continuing their policy of setting the temperature on buses so that everyone but the driver passes out through heat stroke
@mbtaGM thks for placing someone@ park st visitors cntr entrance to hopefully nab fare evadors. appreciated from a paying customer! #mbta
Now I know why I never take the T! #MBTA #FAIL
This driver isn't going to be happy until I go flying comically from the back of the bus through the windshield. #mbta
(Which MBTA subway line fits your personality? Take our quiz here.)