The MBTA has proposed two sets of fare increases and service cuts aimed at closing its projected deficit of $161 million this year. Under Scenario 1, fares would increase by 43% and service reductions would affect between 34–48 million trips each year. Under Scenario 2, fares would increase by 35% and service reductions would affect between 53-64 million trips each year.
Working with colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Public Health, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) conducted a health impact assessment (HIA) of the two proposals, the results of which are described in this report. HIAs aim to describe the potential health effects of plans, policies, or programs under consideration for adopting (NRC, 2011). To assess how the MBTA service and fare change scenarios might impact health, we examined the Central Transportation Planning Staff’s (CTPS) estimates of how the scenarios would affect vehicle miles travelled, time spent driving, ridership loss, and air quality in the region. We then applied findings from peer reviewed scientific literature to the results of the CTPS transportation models, in consultation with local experts in the fields of air quality, environmental health, and physical activity. We considered both health and indirect economic impacts to the population.