No time has ever been better to re-evaluate and overhaul Massachusetts transportation policy than this moment — progressively.
Unlike the last two decades of governors, those following Mike Dukakis, the new guy, Deval Patrick, is being candid about the problems we face and their scope. His administration sees perhaps $11 billion in necessary infrastructure work due to neglect and denial. Plus the MBTA is in a death spiral of costs in an endless take off, services in a dwindling decrease and ridership understandably plunging.
Fortunately, our Lt. Gov. Tim Murray is a big picture transportation hero. He sees mass transit as crucial to the revival of the economy and in all the moderately and heavily populated areas, not just Beantown. In his campaign, he pledged to work to make commuter rail and other people-moving system faster, more frequent and cost effective.
There are tremendous advantages in fully funding mass transit, in making it too attractive for commuters to use their SUVs for solo drives into town or up and down the area’s Interstates. I may post here on the cost, noise and pollution reduction, health, congestion and infrastructure benefits.
Likewise, as we see from the offsetting costs of highway usage, that’s so 20th Century. The hidden costs (I feel another post coming on that) are absurd. The subsidies we provide drivers must stop.
From both angles, the current transit swamp in which we suddenly realize we muck is one of those cursed opportunities. Let’s lead again. We desperately need a fully perking economy, we absolutely need to fix highways and bridges, but the missing component is mass transit.
Murray, Patrick and the legislature must present the. if you pardon, road map or perhaps train route, to show this country how it’s done. European nations with far fewer resources have played this far smarter. There is no excuse for Massachusetts not to get smart late, but smart to great effect.
The reasons for not doing it would be fear of the magnitude of the task or ignorance of the real solutions. Those aren’t acceptable.