On Wednesday, April 4th, the MBTA’s Board of Directors met to hear a final round of testimony from the public and then vote on whether to adopt the ‘third scenario’ for closing their projected $161 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2013. Despite person after person stepping forward to demand that members of the MBTA board vote ‘no’ and consider proposals put forward by other groups—including Occupy the MBTA and the T Riders Union—the board voted 4-1 to adopt the third scenario.
Afterward, nearly 300 protesters gathered on the steps of the Massachusetts State House for a rally organized by Occupy the MBTA. The rally was a part of a National Day of Action for Public Transportation called by Occupy Boston, which saw people take to the streets in New York City, Portland and Pittsburgh, among other cities.
Protester Evan Martinez, 21, a student from Hingham and member of Occupy Quincy, stated that “The MBTA’s hands are tied financially, so it lies with the state now to come up with a long-term comprehensive funding plan for public transportation.”
During the rally at the State House, Occupy the MBTA announced that in order to encourage legislators to take action on the issue, they would begin a 10 day occupation of the State House steps. This new occupation, dubbed “Camp Charlie”, after the famous character in the song “Charlie on the MTA”, has two sets of demands: “No Hikes, No Cuts, No Layoffs!” and “A fully -funded, sustainable, and affordable transportation plan that works for the entire 99% of Massachusetts.
When asked why he was occupying the State House stairs, an occupier named Rene, 26, said “I’m not from Boston originally, but the transit really impresses me even though local people complain about it. And not just me personally, but most people I know heavily rely on it to get around for their jobs and such. It is so central to Boston. I feel like those things are worth being preserved and we need a long-term solution, not just these band-aids. This is the moment to do it.”
4/8/12 Correction: The decision to occupy the steps of the Massachusetts State Houe was made autonomously by members of Occupy the MBTA, but not the entire group.