Free Rides at Any Cost
Three years ago when the Port Authority announced agreements with four sponsors to underwrite rides on the North Shore Connector and make it part of the free fare zone we stated “the strategy is to get people accustomed to using the service and at some point begin to charge passengers or renegotiate the amounts being paid by the parties now providing the $360,000”. Given news coverage in the last couple of days the focus is squarely on the latter, whether or not that includes current parties or different ones.
We wrote a considerable amount on the Connector, and as well as on the decision to accept sponsorship in lieu of passenger fares (here, here, and here, where we included an Authority estimate of total free fare zone ridership) and the problems with that approach. Has the reformed PAT board (which was not in place in 2012 when the original arrangement was made) probed for the true cost of operating the system past Gateway Center and back?