PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN MASSACHUSETTS SHOULD BE GREEN, AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE AND ACCESSIBLE
ALL STATE SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES; GOVERNOR BAKER; SECRETARY POLLACK; GENERAL MANAGERS OF THE MBTA AND REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITIES.
There are major problems with our transportation system in Massachusetts:
1. Every day there is massive congestion on our roads, plus public transportation is
decrepit, unreliable and inadequate. Management issues in some transit agencies may
exacerbate the problem, but the root cause is decades-long underfunding of public
2. The climate crisis demands that we reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions from
transportation. Single-occupant vehicles emit far more GHGs and other pollutants than
3. Good public transportation is essential for our economy, social equity and public health.
Communities of color and low-income neighborhoods suffer much higher rates of
asthma and other diseases, in part because of pollution from cars. In addition, people in
marginalized groups find it much harder to get to work, schools, medical appointments
etc., thanks to limited or nonexistent transit options. Plus, poor public transit means
more traffic, making roads more dangerous for everyone.
4. The Baker-Polito administration has made valuable improvements to the equipment and
management of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). But far more is needed.
PUBLIC TRANSIT IS AN ESSENTIAL PUBLIC GOOD, AND A KEY PART OF A GREEN NEW DEAL.
For the long-term there must be transformative changes to public transit throughout the
Commonwealth. These include the following:
- For the MBTA we need major investments, including: a tunnel connecting North and South Stations; linking the Red and Blue lines; doubling service on the 20 most popular bus routes (as determined by the MBTA and Livable Streets Alliance); and electrifying the whole commuter rail system, transforming it into a regional rail system as advocated by Transit Matters.
- In other regions: (i) over the next 10 years, double funding for the regional transit authorities (going much further than the $90.5 million approved for fiscal year 2020); (ii) greatly expand and electrify inter-city rail routes, e.g. Boston-Springfield-Albany.
- All new transit and school buses should be electric by 2030.
- The legislature should immediately approve major new funding sources, e.g. the Transportation Climate Initiative (“cap and invest” for Northeast US states), doubling the gas tax, charging tolls on all interstates, etc. Revenues from these sources should be dedicated to public transit and bike/pedestrian facilities. If these taxes/fees disproportionately affect low-income people and rural communities, there must be compensating benefits.