Archive for Transportation

Zero-Fare Mass Transit Podcast

Fairmount LineI’m not the first to propose fare-free mass transit. I’ve done it before, shall do it again, and won’t be the last. Yet, the proposal and concepts behind it continue to astound those who accept the current unnatural order of things transportation.

The shock to many is shifting from the it’s-only-common-sense idea that sure, a bus, commuter rail or subway has to charge for a ticket. Otherwise, who’ll pay for the expenses. Well, the commonsense thingummy almost always means, “I have nothing. I’ll just deal in cliché and stereotype.”

After our last terrible winter when the mass transit in Boston (the T as we call it, for MBTA) failed us countless times. The newish Gov. Charlie Baker set a task force to defining how to fix it. Not surprisingly, they wanted to do the same things, just cheaper and more efficiently. They never asked what we expect from mass transit.

I talk a bit in a short show (19 minutes) on why we should have zero-fare transit. There are many advantages in clearing road congestion, minimizing pollution, noise and wrecks, all by shifting the governmental (you taxes) expenditures from conductors, ticket vendors and such to the fares. I’d bet that be done for the same or less.

Then drivers who often disdain mass transit have to look at the huge subsidies they get in road building and maintenance, gas price supports and more. The are more heavily riding on our taxes than T riders would be. Let’s get real, boys and girls.

Many library as well as internet sources cover the topic. You can start with our 5-year-old Left Ahead chat with MA Gov. Mike Dukakis, here. Of course, Wikipedia as a multi-page recap of cities who are offering free transit, here. An excellent think piece on the subject by Henry Grabar appears in Salon, here.

icon for podpress  Free Mass Transit: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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The Terrorist Verdict and the T Report

Two big developments this week will show the nature of Boston and Massachusetts. Now convicted terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will shortly be sentenced to life without parole or death. For something completely different, newish Gov. Charlie Baker got his Special Panel report on how to fix mass transit in MA.

MA law has forbidden executions for over 60 years. Polling shows only a quarter to a third of citizens would ever consider the death penalty. Yet the 12 jurors are starting the penalty phase for the Boston Maraton bomber and if unanimous, they could condemn him to death at some distant federal facility out of state.

I discussed the likelihood of the sentence options.

For that something different, the rushed task force to define the T’s problems and present remedies almost met it deadline to product Back on Track: An action Plan to Transform the MBTA. Click the link for a 49-page Power Point PDF file.

The panel listed under the weight of the former exec of NY’s MTA and a Harvard prof who writes books on the likes of privatizing mass transit. While there are insightful and useful judgments, it falls short in many ways, such as any vision at all of what the MBTA should do and be. It does, however, manage to whitewash Baker’s role in creating the T’s troubles in a previous MA administration.

I talk about what I see as good and bad in the report.

Among my punchlines is that the huge hole in the report was a lack of vision — the august panel seemed to have no sense of where the T should head. Yeah, yeah, a 5 or 20-year plan, but the assumption clearly is that we want the same T, just more cost effective. Triple, “No!” on that.

Instead, there are achievable visions of a T that is too good not to take. You leave your car at home or in a station lot because the T is fast, inexpensive, clean, frequent and reliable. You know, like most of Europe’s as well as the West Coast BART and such. To get to the future with far fewer noisy, dangerous, polluting, congestion-making cars, you need to define that destination and design the system that gets us there.

icon for podpress  The T and The Terrorist [26:56m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Is Boston Broken?

Snow, even lots of it, in New England is not some wacky act of God, on a par with tornadoes, hurricanes, tidal waves and such. Boston’s inability to clear its streets and the MBTA’s to run its trains, buses and trolleys says bad things about us.

I looked at those and beyond. Let’s recall the inane reactions to the toy LED displays of Mooninites. The other 9 or 10 cities who got a couple of these took ’em down and went on. We paralyzed roads and waterways. This goes to a silly post-9-11 paranoia that permeates our society even beyond here.

I suggest fixes in several areas, some very hard. Several require both vision and courage of our Mayor and our Governor.

icon for podpress  Is Boston Broken? [28:05m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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February Boston Updates

Boston City HallSnow is more than a conversation starter in Boston. It’ll be a serious catalyst for fights and changes.

I talk about how our mayor and governor have been forced into facing phalanges primed for battle. Our subways, commuter rail and buses are shut down. I discussed the underlying causes, but the tow bigs will assign blame. We can hope when the political blood dries, we can get to those base causes.

Otherwise, I talked about some of the pending actions and excitement, mostly in city hall. The terrible weather has delayed guest scheduling, but I’ll try to line up some of the most active city councilors — Steve Murphy (BYOB scheme), Josh Zakim (casino referendum for November), and Tit Jackson (commission for Black and Latino men and boys).

If we ever see 32F or higher again, it’ll warm in Boston. Meanwhile, we can be sure the political climate heats up.

icon for podpress  Feb. 2015 Boston Updates [24:08m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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