UPDATE: NYC Donates Snow Fighting Equipment; Governor Releases $30 Billion Plan

UPDATE: NYC Donates Snow Fighting Equipment; Governor Releases $30 Billion Plan

Spring has sprung today for transit as NYC MTA CEO Thomas Prendergast announced a small donation of snow fighting equipment and the Governor announced a commitment of $30 billion over 15 years to drastically upgrade the MBTA's infrastructure and equipment.

Legislators ride the T. Will it make a difference?

Yesterday 47 out of 200 state legislators rode some type of MBTA service as part of an advocacy push being called "Gov On The T". Governor Baker is skiing in Utah this week.

The comments from those using Commuter Rail were reflective of the issues we've been dealing with for decades, though unfortunately many seem to take aim at the T as if every problem is simply a management failure. For example:

Podcast 11b - Should MBTA Riders Receive Refunds?

After a historic month of MBTA service delays and suspensions, many riders, politicians and media figures are asking the T to refund money to February monthly pass holders. What form would rebates take? Should the T use very limited funds for this purpose? Is a refund even helpful, or does it simply shift focus from fixing T infrastructure to blaming T management?

Episode 11 guest Rich Parr, Research Director for MassINC Polling, sticks around with Jeremy and Marc to debate the rebate hot potato.

UPDATE: Yesterday the MBTA announced they would be offering a free fare day in late April and discounts on May passes. More business as usual: blame T management for political problems.

Podcast 11 - Transit Polling with Rich Parr of MassINC

MassINC Polling Research Director Rich Parr shares his recent work and perspectives on what people think about the transportation dilemma in Boston. After the MBTA collapsed, a follow-up poll showed a dramatic increase in perceived important of transit, and most people now recognize that the region suffers without good transit. Still nobody can agree on how to fix it, and myths such as wasteful spending and mismanagement continue to lower the discourse.

Podcast 10 - Fixing the T: immediate and medium-term solutions

Podcast 10 - Fixing the T: immediate and medium-term solutions

The collapse of Boston's long-neglected transit system has dominated the news this week along with calls for more MBTA funding, but no action has been taken and the General Manager unexpectedly quit after receiving a unanimous vote of confidence. The city remains gridlocked and our only "solution" has been to truck snow out to the suburbs. Governor Baker called for another study to reach the same conclusions as all the previous studies. No amount of "reform" or new management is going to make up for inadequate revenue, and if the state continues to neglect the lifeblood of our economy, perhaps cities will be forced to unite in taxing themselves. There may also be some real estate revenue opportunities. We debunk myths about system expansion, transportation inequity and other uninformed opinions people are spouting in the media and on Beacon Hill.

For now, an emergency transit plan is needed. We're talking immediate and radical changes, working with the state and other cities to have a transportation plan so that the city can keep moving when the T fails (which we know will continue to happen). The trials of the past month should make clear how the T impacts everyone in the region, not just riders, and can be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate transit priority measures that we should have all the time. Currently suburbanites can drive into downtown faster than many Boston residents can get downtown; we think that needs to change.

Scott’s Resignation a Wake Up Call for Massachusetts

Scott’s Resignation a Wake Up Call for Massachusetts

MBTA GM Beverly Scott, PhD, delivered an impassioned speech earlier this week  [Photo via Boston Globe]

We’ve seen it before: the highly qualified leader of a beleaguered transit agency gets fed up with state politics getting in the way of him/her doing his/her job and resigns.

Take Jay Walder, former CEO of Hong Kong MTR, former Managing Director for Finance and Planning of Transport for London, and current CEO of Motivate, the company that manages Hubway. When he resigned as NYC MTA CEO back in 2011, it was not merely to take the job at HK MTR that paid 3 times as much. His resignation followed significant difficulty with indifferent politicians and seemed to be punctuated by his last in-person encounter with Governor Cuomo: getting passed over after travelling to the governor's office. Unlike here where the seat of state government is less than a kilometre away from transit headquarters, Walder had travelled to the capitol 2.5 hours by train upstate to see the governor.

Podcast 09 - Snow Cripples MBTA, Governor Baker Presents Statewide Budget Cuts

Podcast 09 - Snow Cripples MBTA, Governor Baker Presents Statewide Budget Cuts

It's been a terrible few weeks for the chronically neglected MBTA as record snowfall and epic traffic congestion stalled buses and trains throughout the region. Damage to vehicles and infrastructure following 50 disabled trains on Monday forced the MBTA to suspend rail service for the third time this year as crews work to clear tracks and repair ancient equipment.

MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott blamed old equipment and lack of investment for the recent troubles and said she hopes we can pursue the "systemic, planned, serious, bold reinvestment" that the system needs.

Meanwhile, our new Republican Governor Charlie Baker called the system's recent performance "unacceptable" and blamed T management while admitting he has not yet called the GM.  Baker insisted his proposed $40 million transportation budget cuts will not affect transportation service.

How did we get to this point? Where do we go from here?