My son and I successfully made our way from Cambridge to Lasell College in 50 minutes this morning using public transportation. It was a well rounded commute. We took the subway to Porter Square, the commuter rail to Waltham, and the 505 bus to campus. It was very comfortable and efficient and something I could do on a regular basis to help reduce my carbon footprint. However, the trip cost me $9.75! That certainly is not sustainable so I called the MBTA to ask if I did something wrong.
The answer was simple. No. There are no transfers from the commuter rail to subway or bus. She said maybe once the commuter rail has the Charlie Card system but for now this trip will cost me nearly $10 each direction. I am willing to make many sacrifices for the health of the environment but to pay $19.50 a day to get to and from Lasell cannot be justified. If the trip was fast, maybe I would consider it but it still takes nearly an hour each direction. Remember, I am comparing this to driving which takes about 15 minutes.
I understand the sticky situation the MBTA is in. They now have a budget imposed on them and have had to increase costs for riding. The state imposed the budget to curtail excessive spending. However, the MBTA plays a major role in our region by moving massive numbers of people at a fraction of the carbon cost. The MBTA needs to somehow balance their costs and the costs to riders. They need to keep riders costs low enough so that people don't switch to driving to work. Not only do people factor in cost when making their decision on how to commute, but also comfort, schedules, and time. If taking the MBTA takes more money and time than driving, like my commute this morning, then inevitably people will choose the vehicle option.
Thursday I have another plan. I will take the 86 bus to Reservoir and transfer to the green line. It should take under an hour and only cost a subway fare.