The full version of the letter excerpted here was sent to the MBTA prior to its decision to raise fares and reduce service:
I am writing to give my feedback regarding the current fare proposals suggested by the T. My name is Cindy Higgins. I have Cerebral Palsy and use a power wheelchair. I have been a RIDE user for approximately 24 years. During that time I have seen many improvements in the RIDE services and a major increase in the RIDE service area. Since I started on the RIDE, there have been fare increases, but they have never been this major. I have on occasion used the fixed-route system and underwent travel training in the travel training program. I also have a RIDE CharlieCard that allows me to access fixed route services such as subways and buses. I can use the fixed route system successfully when my travel goes from origin to destination in one or two buses or a subway without transfers. Due to my disability, however, I have a horrible sense of direction and get lost very easily in situations such as between bus routes, which makes my confidence in using the fixed-route system very limited and that is one reason I primarily use the RIDE. Should the proposed fare increases come to fruition, or the RIDE service area decrease dramatically, this would be a major hardship for me and others.
I know the fare increases that are proposed are MBTA-wide and as such include The RIDE. I understand that given the current economy and current gas prices that some type of fare increase is inevitable. It must be recognized however that because of the current economy, incomes are not rising and in most cases disposable incomes have decreased including the personal care attendants that work for me, students and people with disabilities who use the fixed-route system or the RIDE or both. I think it’s a shame that after the T has worked so hard to make improvements in the T services, including the fixed route system, and making the T more accessible, that you are not only proposing fare increases, but service decreases.
I would be in favor of having the RIDE service go up 25 cents a RIDE or 50 cents per round trip. I realize this is well below any of your proposals. Obviously, I will have to adjust to whatever fare increase becomes a reality, however, people with disabilities are often on fixed incomes and have to spread their resources over a variety of needs….Additionally, I am somewhat in favor of limiting RIDE services to persons who can demonstrate that they really need the RIDE. I caution, however, that many people have hidden disabilities and therefore might look and be perceived as more able-bodied than they actually are.
I know that the changes that I have proposed would put a much smaller dent in the T’s fiscal deficit. However, I hope that you will consider them seriously given that it will make T ridership much more equitable for all and still allow you to emphasize all of the major improvements on which you’ve spent much time and money on over the past 10 years.
Cynthia L. Higgins