ON THE OTHER HAND
Put Another Nickel In
CRIMSON editorial policy is determined by vote of our editors. ON THE OTHER HAND is a dissent from that policy written by an editor who sees and interprets the facts differently.
The financial troubles of the Metropolitan Transit Authority really started some three hundred years ago when the founders of Boston began driving their cows along the muddy banks of the Charles. These troubles have mounted to an $18,000,000 deficit during the past four years.
Prospects of a skyscraper city, the profitable place for a subway system, were thwarted from the start; the mud banks didn't have any rock base on which to construct high buildings. While stony Manhatten Island packs over 85,000 people to the square mile with more being squeezed in every day, Boston manages only 18,000 and the figure is not going up. Inexpensive operation of a transit system in decentralized Boston is impossible. MTA authorities chose the fairest way out of their deficit problem when they hiked the fare from ten to fifteen cents.
Several possible solutions were considered before installing new turnstiles. Our editorial suggested that the Boston landowners stop stamping on the faces of the poor and pay more taxes to meet the deficit. However, these taxes had been increased 60% since 1945 and the traffic would not bear more.
Another plan involved raising again the MTA tax assessment on the suburbs. Unfortunately, the less prosperous towns like Chelsca and Somerville were already paying to the limit, and inhabitants of the wealthier areas balked at paying more while they commuted mainly by automobiles.
One possibility was an MTA request for a grant from the state emergency relief fund. This was smothered at an early stage. The state fund was not big enough to take care of the MTA as well as necessary statewide projects. Furthermore, sectional opposition from the western part of the state insured defeat of the plan. This opposition also killed the proposal to consider subway track as public highway. This would have made the MTA eligible for a cut of the state gasoline tax. Finally, authorities looked hopefully at the New York system of obtaining revenue through city sales taxes. But this never got past the looking stage as the Massachusetts Constitution specifically prohibits levying general municipal taxes.
Even strict economy measures, such as abolishing rents and taxes on MTA property and payroll reductions, will not bring the yearly deficit below $3,000,000. The only feasible solution is the fare hike. From now on Bostonians will just have to fumble for that extra nickel.