, Salem, MA


November 29, 2013

Our view: Cheers, jeers for newsmakers

CHEERS to the MBTA for coming to its senses and realizing it made a mistake when it jacked up fares for disabled riders a little more than a year ago.

The MBTA announced earlier this week that it plans to make amends to users of the Ride paratransit program, which offers door-to-door public transportation for people with disabilities, by cutting fares from $4 a ride to $3 per trip.

In 2012, the MBTA doubled the cost of a ride from $2 to $4, causing an outcry among its 30,000 or so users and their advocates, who said the agency was seeking to close its significant funding gap by taking money from those who could least afford to give it up.

A study earlier this year noted that 17.6 percent of Ride users have cut back on their medications, and 22.3 percent made partial payments or skipped payments entirely for utilities; 71.5 percent said they have less spending money. Ride users generally have less than $2,000 a month in income.

The new, $3 fare should go into effect sometime in January.

A pre-emptive JEERS to anyone who would oppose a bill in the Massachusetts Legislature by state Rep. Paul McMurtry, a Dedham Democrat, that would allow the granting of liquor licenses to retirement homes. The idea is to allow the facilities to serve residents drinks with their meals.

After it was reported out of the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, the House gave initial approval earlier this week to the bill (H 3779) that would allow municipalities to grant liquor licenses to a continuing care community or retirement community.

“Some of the long-term care facilities almost have a restaurant, so it makes some sense,” said Rep. George Peterson, a Grafton Republican. “We didn’t have a serious concern on that one. Listen, I might be in one of those places someday.”

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