This from the Statehouse News Service, via John Nunnari –
SENIORS TURN OUT TO WARN AGAINST CHANGES THAT COULD MAKE THEM “SHUT-INS”
By Andy Metzger and Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON, DEC. 14, 2015…..If the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board votes to eliminate “premium” services on the Ride, a door-to-door paratransit system, about a dozen people are prepared to be arrested Monday, according to Carolyn Villers, executive director of Mass Senior Action Council.
Villers anticipates the board will not take that step, and said if the elimination of “premium” services remains a possibility, a group of activists will go to Gov. Charlie Baker’s office to protest the proposal. If the board votes Monday to eliminate it “we will be rather disruptive,” Villers told the News Service.
The MBTA is wrestling with a projected $242 million deficit in fiscal 2017. The premium service applies to areas outside the Americans with Disabilities Act-mandated para-transit zone and applies to rides that are scheduled and taken on the same day, according to Villers.
A map Villers provided shows areas deemed premium in the Ride’s service area, including Medfield, most of Concord, Topsfield and part of Weymouth. The control board is meeting Monday after a joint meeting with the MassDOT board.
Advocates are warning against any reductions in services for elders and the disabled who rely on The Ride to buy grocery and get to doctor appointments.
Mass Home Care says that any move to cut back on “premium” services will lead to more “shut-ins” cut off from help to conduct their daily lives.
“If the MBTA takes The Ride off the road, we will lose more than 210,000 trips that not only link elders to needed services — but reduces their isolation in their homes for those who no longer can drive on their own,” Candy Kuebel, of Mass Home Care, plans to tell the board.
The T has estimated that it could save $5.2 million to $10.4 million starting early next year by limiting the door-to-door Ride service to the areas specifically required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mass Home Care said seniors were already impacted by Ride fare increases in 2012 and did not receive a cost-of-living adjustment in their Social Security. Use of The Ride fell 20 percent after the fare hikes, according to Mass Home Care.
“You have heard the term ‘shut-ins.’ Well, no senior wants to be called a “shut-in,” but that’s exactly what the MBTA will be creating if you put the brakes on ‘premium rides,'” Kuebel said.
Serving the working press since 1910