Transportation Schizophrenia

Traffic in Brisbane

Photo by neoporcupine from Flickr

Today, the Boston Globe reports on the MBTA’s plan for draconian cuts to bus, subway, and commuter rail services if they do not get money from the Commonwealth to cover a $160 million deficit. According to the Globe, the proposed cuts include:

  • Cutting half of the bus service after 8PM and all bus service on weekends.
  • Cutting half the subway service after 8PM and all subway service on weekends.
  • Removing all customer service agents from all stations.
  • Eliminating all weekend Commuter Rail service and all Commuter Rail service after 7PM.

Basically, getting rid of the T for all intents and purposes.

Meanwhile, The New Haven Register published an editorial by Senator Chris Dodd entitled, “It’s important to put public transit in driver’s seat.”

The Senator points out that transit ridership continues to be at record levels, even as gas prices have dropped from last year’s highs. He points to all the benefits of increased transit use, less air pollution, less dependance on foreign oil, better planned transit oriented communities… He also highlights the fact that while highway projects generally get 80% funding from the federal government, new transit projects get less than half their funding from the federal government (and he does not point this out, but operation costs for transit agencies get even less federal funding).

Roads will continue to be essential to the nation’s economic growth and competitiveness - as will the states’ role in building them. But America will never meet the challenges of this century with 50 states carrying out 50 different plans.

Or in the case of Massachusetts apparently (and pretty much every other state) no plan.

The states cannot maintain the transit systems we have in place now, let alone create the robust 21st century transit system this country and it’s metropolitan areas so desperately need and want. The federal government needs to play a much larger role.

It’s time the federal government mirrored the example set by communities across Connecticut. That is why I’ve written President Barack Obama urging him to establish a White House Office of Sustainable Development to ensure that we are coordinating all of these issues, as well as energy and environmental policies, in the most comprehensive, integrated way.

Yes, we need coordination at the federal level, but we also need the feds to show us the money. Coordination of state agencies that are hacking themselves to pieces do to budget crises will get us nowhere.

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8 Responses to Transportation Schizophrenia

  1. Jef Nickerson April 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    NECN has a video about the T cuts:

  2. Frymaster April 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    Can I embed an image in a comment? If it doesn’t work, here’s a link to a chart comparing federal road, air and rail funding.

  3. Jef Nickerson April 20, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

    Photos can be embedded in posts, but I’m not sure if only administrators are allowed or not. Not sure that anyone who is not an administrator ever tried. Do you have a embeddable hyperlink of the chart?

  4. Frymaster April 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm #

    i tried the self-closing html img tag. xhtml requires “proper closing” which i will try now

    otherwise, the url is


  5. Frymaster April 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    The tags get stripped out. C’est la vie.

    That chart, though, was way worse than I expected. And I expected it to be bad.

  6. mental757 April 20, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    well, at least us RIers are already familiar with the cycle:

    underfund transit, transit threatens massive cuts, officials “find” the money

    welcome to RIPTA’s world MBTA…

  7. Jef Nickerson April 20, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    I added it to the original post.

    Actually, I added it to your post. Looks like I can post images but commenters can’t.

  8. Frymaster April 21, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    1979 – American Passenger Rail’s Golden Age.

    I particularly like the way that right that the late-Clinton GOP-led Congresses destroy rail to almost nothing. Then as soon as Bush gets in, air and rail skyrocket.


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