Rails, Trains and Clean Automobiles
Massachusetts touts itself as a leader in many fields (education, progressivism, baseball) but one of the areas we sorely fall behind in is public transportation. It’s sad that a state that was once the pioneer in public mobility is now at the bottom of the rankings for road quality, commute time and affordability in the nation---45th, 47th and 47th respectively. That’s pathetic.
Rail connections between our major cities are infrequent, slow and unreliable - to the extent they exist at all. Our buses are old and rely on routes that haven’t changed in decades despite the rise in population for different cities and neighborhoods. Schedules are not optimized for commuters switching between bus lines or rail routes, and unreliable service during snow storms and cold snaps has a severe impact on our state economy. It’s 2018, we shouldn’t be having the same problems with the T that people in the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s were having.
So, what do we do about it? Well, the first step is to bring our transit system into the 21st century. The MBTA should electrify its bus and commuter rail system so they don’t rely on dirty diesel fuel as much--electrifying their transit system is what helped the Long Island Railroad become the most reliable commuter rail operation in North America. We can also make use of all of the data at our fingertips to create a transit system that is desirable to people in the commonwealth. The North South Rail Link is something that has been studied and discussed for 95 years while a high speed rail from Boston to Western Massachusetts has been on the table for half a century. It’s time to turn all of these findings into concrete results. The campaign wants to establish establish a framework for assessing the value of projects, making the right decisions and moving efficiently into action. To do this, we will need to reassess our funding structure to make sure we are making the best use of our assets, finding new sources of revenue and redirecting investments from ill conceived projects.
Most importantly, we need to connect our communities together. Previous administrations have taken the view that providing proper public transportation means making the trains run on time, we disagree. Public transportation is one of the keys to reducing social inequality and making the state more economically prosperous. Our state is changing, and housing and rent prices are skyrocketing, as low income communities keep getting pushed from economic centers public transit will be critical in ensuring that our state doesn’t become geographically stratified.
If you want a more in depth look at how to modernize Massachusetts’ public transportation read our plan here.