, Salem, MA


September 20, 2013

Our view: Cheers, jeers for local newsmakers


In 2012, the MBTA doubled the fares on the Ride from $2 to $4 and added a $5 charge for trips that were scheduled late or were bound for a “premium” zone. In short, the steepest fare increases were aimed at those who could least afford it.

Now a new study is showing the effects on elderly and disabled riders: The State House News Service reported that a majority of Ride users who make less than $2,000 a month “cut back on food, personal grooming and transit trips” after the fares increased.

According to the state study, 17.6 percent of Ride users said they have cut back on their medications, and 22.3 percent made partial payments or skipped payments entirely for phone or utilities, and 71.5 percent said they have less spending money.

Certainly, this is not what the Legislature and the MBTA was looking for when they designed their first bailout plan for the perpetually cash-strapped agency. Here’s an idea: Why not eliminate the Legislature’s per diem system, in which lawmakers are paid for simply driving to work, and put the $200,000 or so in savings toward Ride fare cuts? It won’t solve the entire problem, but it would be a small start. And we all have to make sacrifices these days. Even lawmakers.

CHEERS to the Peabody Essex Museum for lifting its ban on visitor photography in its galleries.

Jay Finney, PEM’s chief marketing officer noted the change only makes sense in these times, when seemingly everyone has a smartphone with a camera and at least one social media account.

“They’re going to take the picture one way or another,” Finney told reporter Bethany Bray. “We would just like to remove the tension of being approached and asked not to do it.

“To ask (patrons) to leave their digital lives at the door ... seems kind of archaic,” he said. “Sharing images and what people are experiencing is a great thing for us. ... The more people we can touch with our collection, in whatever form, the better.”

We agree. Of course, as much as we like seeing users’ shots on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, nothing beats seeing the real thing, in person.




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