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Boston’s MBTA to Double Fares for Wheelchair Accessible Service, Sparks Protests (May 22, 2012)

Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood was shut down on Monday as activists lined the streets in wheelchairs bound together by chains protesting changes to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) service which go into effect on July 1st. They chanted “If we can’t ride, you can’t drive” for nearly an hour before moving their protest to the Capital building’s sidewalks after local police cut through their chains.

The MBTA is Massachusetts leading public transportation authority, managing commuter train, subway and bus systems in addition to offering wheelchair accessible taxi-like services (The Ride) to residents of Greater Boston. Monday’s protest was targeted at the fare hike impacting disabled riders which will see rates for The Ride double from $2 to $4 for one way trips for city residents and from $2 to $5 for people who live farther from the city. Transit officials say the service is “too expensive” to maintain at current prices.

Rob Park, a 38 year old resident of Salem, says he relies on The Ride to get to doctor’s appointments and run errands. “We all contribute to the Massachusetts economy and all we want to do is be able to get out so we can continue to buy goods and services … If (they) cut our ride, how are we going to be able to do that?”

Karen Schneiderman, a resident of Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, added that all they (the activists) wanted to do was talk to Gov. Deval Patrick. “He’s the only person in a position of power to keep The Ride at its current level … We want to know, where is the governor?”

Monday’s protest was not the first of its kind as similar events have been held at the Capitol since the MBTA announced service changes earlier this spring. For more information on the MBTA its service changes, visit www.MBTA.com

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