How about we dress up like the *real* Charlie on the M(B)TA and call out this corporate imposter! The real Charlie couldn’t afford even a five cent fare hike…He’d be helping people to ride the T for FREE…Not funneling them into purchase slightly discounted fare hiked Charlie cards! ;0
Boston Fare Strike meets this THURSDAY, August 23rd at 6pm. In City Place foodcourt.
City Place is across Boylston Street from the Boston Common, on the first floor of the Transportation building. Note: Location change! Please come and help us to plan the next steps of the campaign to fight Austeri-T. “They Say Fare Hike….We Say Fare Strike.”
Boston Fare Strike will be meeting this THURSDAY, August 16th at 6pm. We’ll meet at the Boston Common Gazebo (near Park Street Station), unless it is raining or too humid to work (which seems like a possibility).
If the weather is a problem, we will meet nearby in the City Place Foodcourt. City Place is located across Boylston Street from the Boston Common. (It’s down the brick walkway known as “the Alley” and on the first floor of the Transportation building.)
Hope to see you there! Our campaign is really gaining momentum; come and get involved. We strive to unite T riders and workers across Greater Boston into a radically informed and militant force to defend and extend mass transportation in the interests of the 99%.
Dear Globe Editors:
Your (8/5/21) Sunday editorial calls for a “crackdown” on T “fare evaders,” though you admit that such a “crackdown” will do next to nothing to help the T’s deep financial crisis. This plea for more punishment of T-riders ignores context, reflects a mean-spirited double standard, and represents a distraction from the real threats facing public transportation.
Where is the Globe editorial calling for the state to “crack down” on the predatory banks who are helping to bankrupt the T, siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars in interest from its debt? Or to “crack down” on the politicians that dumped billions in Big Dig debt on the T in the first place? Or to “shake up the culture” of the top 1% whose tax evasion and worker exploitation have left public agencies like the T perpetually underfunded and many T-dependent workers strapped for cash?
These three hypothetical “crack downs”—unlike ticketing poor youth who can’t afford it—actually could help to resolve the T’s long-term debt crisis. If we made the “1%” pay, the T could be cutting fares instead of raising them, expanding service instead of cutting it. The T might even be made Fare Free—we could all evade the fares together!
But instead of probing the deeper issues and taking a stand against the big time crooks, your editorial stays on the surface and picks on the vulnerable. Meanwhile, the people in power continue to drive the T into the ditch, and even get rich doing it.
How about instead of throwing the young and the poor under the clattering, underfunded bus, we support our fellow T riders and place the focus and the blame where it belongs: a social economic system and a public transportation system that are both in need of fundamental restructuring?
a member of the Boston Fare Strike Coalition
To Whom It May Concern
At 8:00 AM Friday morning (8/3/12), members of the Boston Fare Strike Coalition will liberate the Quincy Center Red Line Station. This action represents the latest in a series of “Fare Free Fridays,” aimed at protesting and resisting the recent implementation of fare hikes and service cuts across the MBTA system. We will hold open the gates—liberating the station—for our fellow T riders, allowing them a Fare Free ride to work. It is only fair in our view that riders get one work-day ride for free each week, since the MBTA has raised fares by 23%. We are taking this action to call attention to the injustice of the recent MBTA-State Legislature Fare Hikes that have been forced on our communities. This plan, in its essence, asks the T-riders of our city to pay a backdoor tax so that bankers and bondholders can continue to reap billions of dollars in profit off of the MBTA debt, a debt that originates with the Big Dig and that was odiously dumped on the T in 2000. The current fares are not fair, and it is right for people to refuse to pay them. “If the banks can get a free ride, why can’t we?”
We reject this fare hike and the view that it is necessary. The recently enacted MBTA plan makes T-riders pay more for less. It balances the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable members of our community: low-wage workers, the unemployed, seniors, students, and the disabled. At a time when 1% of the population owns almost 40% of the total wealth, and sits on trillions of dollars in unproductive capital, the MBTA plan asks those who are already struggling to pay more. Far from being an “inevitable” cost of keeping our transit system running, the fare increases and service cuts are the result of budget austerity, underfunding of mass transit, financial mismanagement, banker profiteering, and elite corruption; a deadly combination that is undermining our city’s public transit system, now and in the years ahead. We stand for defending and expanding—not undermining or privatizing—public transit, with the goal of making it safe, ecologically sustainable, affordable, and accessible to all. Fare Free Fridays and Station Liberations are a part of building the movement to fight for this long-term goal. “They Say Fare Hike…We Say fare Strike!” Continue Reading
ON A CLEAR, chilly day in November 2004, then-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney stood inside a large white tent set up on the brick plaza outside Boston City Hall. Romney wasn’t there to deliver a speech or cut a ribbon. He was there to sing a song—something he did with gusto as he joined the Kingston Trio in a rousing rendition of “M.T.A.,” the well-known ballad about a “man named Charlie” doomed to “ride forever ’neath the streets of Boston” and become “the man who never returned.”
The purpose of this unusual concert was to launch the “Charlie Card,” an electronic fare card that has now replaced tokens on the Boston subway system. “I’ve always wanted to do that, since about the fifth grade,” said Romney, after singing the song that has become not only part of American folklore, but a proud part of Boston history.
History is a complicated business, though. Sometimes places, like people with selective memories, omit parts of their history to avoid inconvenient truths. There were signs of Boston’s historical amnesia at work that day. Continue Reading
This article originally appeared on the Dig.
By Emily Hopkins
All photos: ALEX RAMIREZ
Working Title: “Fare Yikes”
Most people who have ridden the T since it did away with tokens in December 2006 recognize Charlie as a dandy fellow, dressed Don Draper-style and gleefully brandishing what we can assume to be his own CharlieCard from the window of a train.
I first heard about Charlie at summer camp in Upstate New York, years before I’d ever stepped foot in the Commonwealth. The old, grey campfire leader would weekly bring out the tune, “Charlie on the MTA,” about a man who pays a nickel to get on the T but does not have the newly requisite nickel to get off. Every day, Charlie’s wife goes down to what is now Government Center to hand him a sandwich “as the train comes rumblin’ through.”
The song says that Charlie “never returned / and his fate is still unlearned,” but it’s easy to see that he is still riding on the T—not only in our pockets and purses, but symbolically as we finally face the service cuts and fare hikes we heard about more than six months ago.
The MBTA accrued a lot of debt since 2000 due to the poor political plan of Forward Funding (the MBTA would get a penny for every nickel collected in a sales tax that Beacon Hill thought would increase; sales tax has actually fallen in the past decade) as well as the repeated borrowing the MBTA did in order to cover what that plan didn’t. Continue Reading