The move was one of the more extreme protests held since the T first announced it would spike the price to use the system earlier this year.Wheelchair-bound ralliers were fighting against the potential increases that could hit the T’s RIDE system, a paratransit service for elderly and disabled individuals.
Increases are expected to go up as much as 100 percent starting July 1 if a bill is passed.
Chained together, wheel-to-wheel across Beacon Street, activists called on the Governor to come outside and speak with them.Traffic was snarled for close to 45 minutes around noon time, as ralliers chanted “If we can’t ride, you can’t drive.”
Boston police arrived on scene with a van and bolt cutters, unchaining protesters and threatening to arrest one man who refused to move out of the way of traffic. Officers contemplated lifting the protester out of his wheelchair, before he finally agreed to move to the sidewalk.
“I wasn’t scared,” said Brian Shea, of Somerville. “We had to push it, we are going to be back though.”
Shea, who has cerebral palsy, said he and his wife rely on the RIDE service to get around with their 12-year-old son.Shea said if the bill passed, increasing the price to use the service from $2 to $4, it would be “catastrophic.”“If the RIDE is increased, a lot of people will be virtually housebound,” he said. “If it is increased, that nails us. We use it for everything.”
There were no arrests outside of the State House, but like Shea, protesters vowed to continue to fight the looming fare increases. “This is a crisis. People will be stuck in their homes—people can’t afford it,” said Karen Schneiderman, one of the protesters who chained her wheelchair to another activists.
According to State House News Service, the protest was supported by the T Riders Union, Boston Center for Independent Life, City Life/Vida Urbana, MassUniting and other community organizations and labor groups.