Sunday, January 14, 2007

Everyone Depends on the T. Period.

Charlie, over at Blue Mass Group, has a great post on public transportation. I was a little late in joining the debate, but I feel strongly enough about the subject that I have to make some comments on my own blog. Charlie's post is about how Tim Cahill, our State Treasurer, is furious about the prospect that the state may be willing to take on some of the T's debt. The fact that the T is struggling, despite raising fares 28%, doesn't matter to Mr. Treasurer. All he sees is the bottom line.

Yet, what Tim Cahill doesn't realize is there's more to this than the bottom line. There are all sorts of costs in life, not all of them are direct. For example, the T may operate in the red, but because of that service thousands of more jobs are created and survive in the Boston area. Because of that "debt," hundreds of businesses are profitable. Because of what some call debt, people are easily able to get from point a to point b when it otherwise would be either hard or impossible. In fact, it's hard to say the T operates in debt when the shit would hit the fan in Boston without it.

There's another form of debt, beyond the addiction Boston businesses have on the T. Emissions from cars and trucks commuting into Boston contribute to Global Warming. Systems like the T are exactly what this country needs to save the Earth, literally. Global Warming is real and great public transportation is a big part of the solution. The costs associated with Global Warming are going to be far greater than any of the T's so-called debt; we're just spending a little money now to save tens of trillions later.

Transportation systems cost a lot of money - and it doesn't make fiscal sense to allow them to continue to work in the red. So changes are going to have to be made. However, businesses and non-profits throughout the state depend on the T as much as the riders do. People in Massachusetts depend on those businesses and non-profits thriving to maintain the quality of everyone's lives, whether they ride the T or not. Ultimately, we all need systems like the T - so it makes sense to invest in them now. Since we all rely on the T, we all have to help pay for it - including Tim Cahill, who should be more than willing to help the state make sure the T is in great fiscal shape.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"we all have to help pay for it"

Of course, you and me, as North Shore commuters, pay more - both per mile and in terms of poor service - as compared to our South Shore commuting bretheren. Not to impugne the South Shore, but a better station, double cars, and less per mile in fares? Plus no tolls on the Southeast Expressway? Damn.

Likes Bikes 2 said...

I don't mind restructuring the debt of the T.

What I do mind is the state's lack of support for public transportation west of Worcester.

Access to public transportation is just as important to the people who live here, and to our economy, and to the environment.

How about a shout out (and some cash) for us?

Anonymous said...

Cahill's comments are ridiculously irresponsible.

The last thing the state treasurer should be doing is pitting taxpayers against each other and encouraging them to think that they should only be paying for things that directly benefit them.

Public transportation, keyword public. There are stretches of road that I never drive on, does that mean my taxes shouldn't be applied to their repair? Even those who rarely take the T or the buses benefit from having fewer cars on the road.

likesbikes2, I agree with you, but the T can't afford to take on any more projects. They spread themselves too thin with all of teh commuter rail projects. New projects should be directly funded by the Legislature and the federal government or they'll just add to the T's already existing debt.

Likes Bikes 2 said...

Thanks for the agreement, but I think you mis-read me on the T taking over public transport out here -

We have our own things going on. We don't need new Boston based administration of those projects.

What I'd like to see from the state is an acknowledgement that public transport, and the financial support thereof, is in the interest and the burden for the whole state.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone Depends on the T. Period."

Sorry, no we don't.

Too many issues, and too little time to go into them. If you really want to learn about a public transportation system that actually works for the public, instead of the employers in a central city such as Boston, do a little research regarding the public transportation system of Munich Germany (not North Dakota).

The public transportation system of Munich and environs comprises four interlocking systems, bus, tram, subway and "Schnellbahn. The S-bahn is something like Boston's commuter rail, but it runs from 5AM in the morning to 2AM the next morning, every 20 minutes, linking the environs out to 20 miles into the exurbs to the central city, making the central city available to anyone in the area. It makes the entire metro area into one. Indeed, every ticket to the Munich opera and stage includes a complementary ticket to the S-bahn for 2 hrs before and after the performance.

I'm sorry, but the sad fact is that Boston's "T" is horrible. It is not intended to do anything other than shuttle workers from the burbs into the center city of Boston and back again. It is intended to benefit the employers in the center city and nothing else. Let the employers pay for what is jokingly referred to as transportation for their workers. I as a taxpayer am tired of having to pay for something that I do not use and will not benefit from.

Anonymous said...

That last comment was mine

--raj

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