Baker’s Plan Panned for Not Doing Enough to Fix MBTA
By Jenn Stanley – Commonwealth News Service
BOSTON – Gov. Charlie Baker’s plans to accelerate maintenance on the struggling MBTA are too little, too late, according to critics who say more is needed to address what they call a transportation crisis.
Baker’s plan comes after two MBTA trains derailed this month, making five derailments this year and 13 in the last two years.
Many, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, have asked to delay to the “T’s” fare hike scheduled for next week, but MBTA officials say the additional money is needed to address the problems.
Chris Dempsey, director of the Transportation for Massachusetts Advocacy Coalition, says to millions of commuters, the state is sending the wrong message.
“When you look at our statewide policy, you see that fares are continuing to rise at the same time that the gas tax and tolls have been basically flat,” he points out. “So, the broader message we’re sending to people is, they should take transit less and they should drive more. That is what’s giving us gridlock and air pollution, and all these things that we don’t want.”
Research from 2018 found Boston has worse traffic congestion than any other U.S. metro area, with workers spending 164 hours a year commuting.
The governor’s plans for the MBTA include a more aggressive evening and weekend closure schedule, and $50 million in funding to accelerate system repairs.
Dempsey’s group maintains the MBTA crisis goes beyond economic issues. Transportation contributes 40% of all of the greenhouse gas emissions in the state – compared to the national average of 23%.
“It’s a climate issue, it’s a public health issue, it’s an economic issue,” Dempsey states. “And we need to be adopting new policies that reduce those emissions, that reduce congestion, get more people to take transit and make our economy stronger, and also fairer and healthier at the same time.”
Dempsey adds hourly workers are hit hardest by long commutes and problems with the transit system, especially those living in areas that are under-served by public transportation.