A NEW POLL indicates MBTA riders are not happy with the transit authority’s service, with the slow-zone plagued subway and trolley system receiving the worst marks.
The poll of 1,000 Massachusetts residents in the MBTA service area found that nearly two-thirds were unimpressed with the subway and trolley system – 27 percent said its service was poor, 35 percent rated it fair, 23 percent said it was good, and only 5 percent called it excellent.
No MBTA service was rated good or excellent by more than half of the respondents. According to the poll, 5 percent rated bus service as excellent, 30 percent said it was good, 38 percent called it fair, and 13 percent said it was poor.
Commuter rail fared the best, with 8 percent of riders rating its service excellent, 38 percent good, 30 percent fair, and 10 percent poor. Ferry service fared reasonably well overall, but a whopping 42 percent of those surveyed didn’t answer the question.
The poll indicates many riders have abandoned the T because they choose to drive more often, wanted to reach their destination faster, or work a hybrid schedule that requires them to come into work less often.
Among the reasons given for riding the T less, safety was selected by only 5 percent of those surveyed. In response to a separate question, 70 percent of respondents said they have felt unsafe at one time or another due to the condition of the trains, buses, stations, or other infrastructure.
There is also uncertainty about whether the T is headed for a turnaround. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they think the T will be better 10 years from now, 16 percent believe it will be worse, and 30 percent the same.
Luring more riders back won’t be easy. Respondents were given a host of options to see what would prompt them to return to the T. The options included direct enticements such as lowering parking rates at MBTA lots, making commuter rail service more frequent, and having employers provide free T passes. There were also indirect enticements, such as higher tolls or less parking available at destinations. None of these options prompted more than half of the respondents to say they would ride the T more.
The only options that received support from more than 50 percent of the respondents were making the T free and making the T more reliable. According to the poll, eliminating fares on the T would make 37 percent of those surveyed more likely to ride the T. Another 20 percent said the elimination of fares would make them a little more likely to get on board.
Making the T more reliable generated similar numbers – 31 percent said they would be likely to ride more if service was more reliable and 23 indicated they would be a little more likely to ride more.
The poll was conducted by the MassINC Polling Group from August 14-20 and sponsored by the Barr Foundation. The poll has a “credibility interval” of plus or minus 3.3 percent. The MassINC Polling Group is part-owned by MassINC, the parent organization of CommonWealth. Topline is here and crosstabs are here.