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Wouldn’t be so bad if the T wasn’t slapped with Big Dig debt.

How about we require tolls on I-93 to pay for the Big Dig.

Of course the Herald is going to write this. It’s not like they’re wrong, but they’re looking through a keyhole when they need to open the door and actually see what’s going on.
Another thought on what is specifically wrong with the herald printing this:

This gives readers the impression that the MBTA is a system that nobody rides and that nobody needs. In reality, it is a desperately needed system that is underfunded, and poorly managed.

All this talk of lower ridership gives the very false impression that “nobody rides the T.”
 

Fenway

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The grim reality is the T was planned 120 years ago to service old downtown which is the Financial District and those riders may never return to 2019 numbers. The commuter rail is especially hurting.

These numbers are grim - the commuter rail has bounced back compared to a year ago but is still way down.


Oddly the Commonwealth still has thousands that used to work downtown now working from home so they are part of the problem.
 
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The grim reality is the T was planned 120 years ago to service old downtown which is the Financial District and those riders may never return to 2019 numbers. The commuter rail is especially hurting.

These numbers are grim - the commuter rail has bounced back compared to a year ago but is still way down.


Oddly the Commonwealth still has thousands that used to work downtown now working from home so they are part of the problem.
Maybe in some ways that is not a bad thing. A system built for the weekday commute means excess equipment and facilities only used for a couple of hours each weekday. If the system was made more attractive for travel for shopping, entertainment, or tourism that would spread out the passenger load more. Making the system more attractive than driving or ubering is the key here.
 
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People might be working at home, but they are sure out driving on the roads. Obviously, they're going somewhere. Perhaps the state needs to strongly encourage transit oriented development around the stations, especially shopping and entertainment venues, including the big stores where the masses shop. They also need to work on schedule frequency to minimize overcrowding, which I've been seeing in the Washington Metro, as they are running with 10 minute headways even during the rush hours. The state should sell this as car-free living and also sell it from the climate change angle. Perhaps they could include car rental agencies at the various terminals of the lines that are close to highways so that all those car-free people can rent them for weekend road trips or to bring loads of lumber to their house from the Home Depot (which would also be located withing convenient walking distance to a transit stop.

All of this would make the system used for practical transportation around the clock and not just to bring workers into downtown.
 

Bostontoallpoints

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Wouldn’t be so bad if the T wasn’t slapped with Big Dig debt.

How about we require tolls on I-93 to pay for the Big Dig.

Of course the Herald is going to write this. It’s not like they’re wrong, but they’re looking through a keyhole when they need to open the door and actually see what’s going on.
I see no issues with this Herald story. They printed facts. Anyone with eyes can see that ridership is way down. Walk around downtown Boston during lunchtime and anyone can tell it's shell of its former self. And I don't know if it is every going to change. I have been wondering for sometime how the low ridership would affect the MBTA and so far this is the only news organization that reported on it.

Also the bulk of MBTA's debt comes after the year 2000 that has nothing to do with the Big Dig.

The grim reality is the T was planned 120 years ago to service old downtown which is the Financial District and those riders may never return to 2019 numbers. The commuter rail is especially hurting.

These numbers are grim - the commuter rail has bounced back compared to a year ago but is still way down.


Oddly the Commonwealth still has thousands that used to work downtown now working from home so they are part of the problem.
I agree with this assessment. The T does not move the bulk of the people in this state to where they are traveling. The state office buildings in the city of Boston are essentially empty.
 
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I see no issues with this Herald story. They printed facts. Anyone with eyes can see that ridership is way down. Walk around downtown Boston during lunchtime and anyone can tell it's shell of its former self. And I don't know if it is every going to change. I have been wondering for sometime how the low ridership would affect the MBTA and so far this is the only news organization that reported on it.

Also the bulk of MBTA's debt comes after the year 2000 that has nothing to do with the Big Dig.


I agree with this assessment. The T does not move the bulk of the people in this state to where they are traveling. The state office buildings in the city of Boston are essentially empty.
My main gripe with this article is the fact that it doesn't mention what I believe to be a major cause of declining ridership... service.

Right now, Boston has no good way of getting into town; you either sit in gridlock on I-93, or you deal with the unreliable and slow MBTA.

Yes, many people would still stay home, but if the T was well-functioning, more people would work in city offices, thus creating a sort of positive feedback loop.

This article doesn't cover the effects of terrible service on ridership, and in making WFH a more attractive than-it-should-have-been option.
 
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I see no issues with this Herald story. They printed facts. Anyone with eyes can see that ridership is way down. Walk around downtown Boston during lunchtime and anyone can tell it's shell of its former self. And I don't know if it is every going to change. I have been wondering for sometime how the low ridership would affect the MBTA and so far this is the only news organization that reported on it.
I see no issues with this Herald story. They printed facts. Anyone with eyes can see that ridership is way down. Walk around downtown Boston during lunchtime and anyone can tell it's shell of its former self. And I don't know if it is every going to change. I have been wondering for sometime how the low ridership would affect the MBTA and so far this is the only news organization that reported on it.

Also the bulk of MBTA's debt comes after the year 2000 that has nothing to do with the Big Dig.


I agree with this assessment. The T does not move the bulk of the people in this state to where they are traveling. The state office buildings in the city of Boston are essentially empty.
couple of points:

-The media in North America very much favors a ridership approach to reporting on transit. I find the problem with this to be twofold.

Firstly, there is an overall belief that “ridership justifies existence.” Unfortunately, the way that NA is zoned and planned, exclusively for car dependency, makes this argument problematic and non-car transit will be constantly be fighting an uphill battle until urban planners address this stain on our cities. While Boston is among the least car dependent places in the country, it’s still vastly more car dependent than it should be.

Secondly, media vastly favors transit scrutiny to car scrutiny. People have elephant memories when it comes to citing cost overruns on rail-related ventures, but car related boondoggles never even surface. Somehow, the green line extension is wasted money, yet the Allston Interchange Project is pure visionary genius.

The Herald didn’t say anything false, but I view this as a red herring to fixing our T.

As to your points about downtown Boston, I completely disagree. I commute to downtown for work from cambridge, and shop/eat often in many of the neighborhoods. A “shell of its former self” is complete hyperbole. I’m not saying Boston is the way it was pre-pandemic, but you’re acting like it’s a ghost town. Especially in the creative and service professions, Boston is more or less back to pre-pandemic numbers (save a few things here and there).
I run a nonprofit in Boston for performance. Our audience numbers are double what they were in 2019.

It’s pretty obvious the T needs to reassess its service relative to the needs of riders. The antiquated model of “commuter traffic” just doesn’t work. The purple line should adopt a regional rail model. The heavy rail lines have many issues, but simply running better frequencies with greater reliability would be a start. Lowering frequency to match ridership is not to way to improve the T.

If we throw our hands back and say “low ridership,” thats just lazy. The T is a needed, public good. It’s horrendously mismanaged, and incredibly underfunded, but I really don’t understand why ridership should ever justify need. It should be the other way around. Boston is one of the few cities in America where car ownership is not necessary, and it’s the T that makes that possible.

Also the bulk of MBTA's debt comes after the year 2000 that has nothing to do with the Big Dig.
citation needed.
 
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The Herald didn’t say anything false, but I view this as a red herring to fixing our T.

As to your points about downtown Boston, I completely disagree. I commute to downtown for work from cambridge, and shop/eat often in many of the neighborhoods. A “shell of its former self” is complete hyperbole.


citation needed.
I have to agree with this. I was in Boston last summer for a few days for the purpose of tourism. Downtown Boston was hopping. The Silver Line bus we took from South Station to get our rental car (we were going to Maine) was packed full. When I returned the rental car, I took the Blue Line back to the hotel. It, too, was pretty crowded with locals going downtown for day trips (this was a Sunday). By the way, we ate dinner in the North End, Hanover St. was impassable from all the car traffic. There people want to go downtown for some nice Italian Food, why should they have to deal with driving? So people want to go to downtown Boston, and what passes for a street network makes driving very unpleasant. Why shouldn't the state spend $$$ to induce people to leave their cars at home?
 

Bostontoallpoints

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couple of points:

-The media in North America very much favors a ridership approach to reporting on transit. I find the problem with this to be twofold.

Firstly, there is an overall belief that “ridership justifies existence.” Unfortunately, the way that NA is zoned and planned, exclusively for car dependency, makes this argument problematic and non-car transit will be constantly be fighting an uphill battle until urban planners address this stain on our cities. While Boston is among the least car dependent places in the country, it’s still vastly more car dependent than it should be.

Secondly, media vastly favors transit scrutiny to car scrutiny. People have elephant memories when it comes to citing cost overruns on rail-related ventures, but car related boondoggles never even surface. Somehow, the green line extension is wasted money, yet the Allston Interchange Project is pure visionary genius.

The Herald didn’t say anything false, but I view this as a red herring to fixing our T.

As to your points about downtown Boston, I completely disagree. I commute to downtown for work from cambridge, and shop/eat often in many of the neighborhoods. A “shell of its former self” is complete hyperbole. I’m not saying Boston is the way it was pre-pandemic, but you’re acting like it’s a ghost town. Especially in the creative and service professions, Boston is more or less back to pre-pandemic numbers (save a few things here and there).
I run a nonprofit in Boston for performance. Our audience numbers are double what they were in 2019.

It’s pretty obvious the T needs to reassess its service relative to the needs of riders. The antiquated model of “commuter traffic” just doesn’t work. The purple line should adopt a regional rail model. The heavy rail lines have many issues, but simply running better frequencies with greater reliability would be a start. Lowering frequency to match ridership is not to way to improve the T.

If we throw our hands back and say “low ridership,” thats just lazy. The T is a needed, public good. It’s horrendously mismanaged, and incredibly underfunded, but I really don’t understand why ridership should ever justify need. It should be the other way around. Boston is one of the few cities in America where car ownership is not necessary, and it’s the T that makes that possible.


citation needed.
Downtown Boston during the weekday is not what used to be. Not even close. Closed storefronts on every corner. The tourist areas might have rebounded some but I see and know where all the closed down restaurants used to be. Walk through the Park Square Building during your lunch break. The T numbers back it up. Every transit mode run by the MBTA is down 50% compared to pre-pandemic government shutdowns. My friends who work in finance go into the office 2 days a week at the most. Some weeks not at all. The state government workers don't go in at all. The state transportation building ironically, is mostly empty.

The Big Dig debt canard used for the MBTA woes is tired and old. The MBTA did not pay one dime for the vehicle tunnel or road. The Conservation of Law Foundation sued the state to include mass transportation funding to be included with the Big Dig. That debt went to mostly expanding commuter rail and to build stations and parking lots.

 

John Santos

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Downtown Boston during the weekday is not what used to be. Not even close. Closed storefronts on every corner. The tourist areas might have rebounded some but I see and know where all the closed down restaurants used to be. Walk through the Park Square Building during your lunch break. The T numbers back it up. Every transit mode run by the MBTA is down 50% compared to pre-pandemic government shutdowns. My friends who work in finance go into the office 2 days a week at the most. Some weeks not at all. The state government workers don't go in at all. The state transportation building ironically, is mostly empty.

The Big Dig debt canard used for the MBTA woes is tired and old. The MBTA did not pay one dime for the vehicle tunnel or road. The Conservation of Law Foundation sued the state to include mass transportation funding to be included with the Big Dig. That debt went to mostly expanding commuter rail and to build stations and parking lots.

The fairest, most equitable and fiscally prudent step the Commonwealth could take to make the T whole for next year and for years to come would be to take back its $3.3 billion in debt.

The second quote is from the conclusion of the link in the first quote. That's the Big Dig debt the T was saddled with. The politicians arguing for this claimed it was debt incurred to improve public transportation, but it was a REQUIREMENT, imposed as a settlement to the suit by the Conservation Law Foundation, in order to get permission to build the HIGHWAY project in the first place. The Commonwealth did not acquire that debt in order to provide better transit. It was required to provide better public transit to remediate (to some small extent) the adverse effects of providing better private automobile access to and through downtown Boston. It's like the bully knocking your teeth out and then giving you a high-interest loan to pay your dental bills.
 
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The second quote is from the conclusion of the link in the first quote. That's the Big Dig debt the T was saddled with. The politicians arguing for this claimed it was debt incurred to improve public transportation, but it was a REQUIREMENT, imposed as a settlement to the suit by the Conservation Law Foundation, in order to get permission to build the HIGHWAY project in the first place. The Commonwealth did not acquire that debt in order to provide better transit. It was required to provide better public transit to remediate (to some small extent) the adverse effects of providing better private automobile access to and through downtown Boston. It's like the bully knocking your teeth out and then giving you a high-interest loan to pay your dental bills.
Outlined Here by Steve Poftak.

Forcing transit expansion that you’re not ready for, and having to pay it yourself, is also bad.
 
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That's not the best summary of but dig debt out there. I can send one of the many better ones tomorrow if anyone wants to read it.

TLDR; that was originally written to the Pioneer institute, a conservative think-tank. On that side, Poftak wrote some other, bizarre, seemingly anti-transit posts.
 

Fenway

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The MBTA went all in to restore the old New Haven Old Colony lines and seriously neglected the urban core for 30+ years.

Commuter Rail on the MBTA is a political football. Somehow 50 years ago the decision was made to forget the legacy of the Budd Rail Diesel Cars which the B&M, B&A, and New Haven used, and go back to locomotive push-pull.

Today the T can not recruit new workers which boggles the mind as for decades you needed to get an invitation by lottery to even apply.
 
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Commuter Rail on the MBTA is a political football. Somehow 50 years ago the decision was made to forget the legacy of the Budd Rail Diesel Cars which the B&M, B&A, and New Haven used, and go back to locomotive push-pull.
It probably made sense given that there were no realistic alternatives at the time for a self propelled DMU to replace the Budd RDC's (remember the SPV2000 fiasco). Pretty much every transit agency at the time was going with push pull trainsets even those that had electrified their lines.
 

Bostontoallpoints

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The MBTA went all in to restore the old New Haven Old Colony lines and seriously neglected the urban core for 30+ years.

Commuter Rail on the MBTA is a political football. Somehow 50 years ago the decision was made to forget the legacy of the Budd Rail Diesel Cars which the B&M, B&A, and New Haven used, and go back to locomotive push-pull.

Today the T can not recruit new workers which boggles the mind as for decades you needed to get an invitation by lottery to even apply.
I also think that the MBTA lost a lot of talent and expertise to retirement between 2010 and 2015 and did not find adequate replacements. The MBTA has been a disaster zone since the 2015 blizzard and shows no signs of recovering. Hopefully someone is taking notes at the MBTA and they are relearning how to run a transit agency.
 

west point

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It probably made sense given that there were no realistic alternatives at the time for a self propelled DMU to replace the Budd RDC's (remember the SPV2000 fiasco). Pretty much every transit agency at the time was going with push pull trainsets even those that had electrified their lines.
As I understand the SPVs were a fiasco due to unions!
 

jis

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It probably made sense given that there were no realistic alternatives at the time for a self propelled DMU to replace the Budd RDC's (remember the SPV2000 fiasco). Pretty much every transit agency at the time was going with push pull trainsets even those that had electrified their lines.
Except SEPTA, METRA, LIRR and MNRR on their electrified sections of course. NJT was the outlier and is now busy trying to reverse its course on their electrified segments after wasting over a billion dollars on various hairbrained schemes. If you want to see poor equipment planning for the type of service they ought to be providing NJT is the poster child. Each time they got new equipment their service on all lines slowed down by 5-10%
 
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Downtown Boston during the weekday is not what used to be. Not even close. Closed storefronts on every corner. The tourist areas might have rebounded some but I see and know where all the closed down restaurants used to be. Walk through the Park Square Building during your lunch break. The T numbers back it up. Every transit mode run by the MBTA is down 50% compared to pre-pandemic government shutdowns. My friends who work in finance go into the office 2 days a week at the most. Some weeks not at all. The state government workers don't go in at all. The state transportation building ironically, is mostly empty.

you and I live and work in two different bostons evidently. With all due respect, I don’t think your assessment is accurate or reflective of the current reality.

I also think that the MBTA lost a lot of talent and expertise to retirement between 2010 and 2015 and did not find adequate replacements. The MBTA has been a disaster zone since the 2015 blizzard and shows no signs of recovering. Hopefully someone is taking notes at the MBTA and they are relearning how to run a transit agency.
I agree whole-heartedly with this.



I found this article touched on good points. Healey was not a magic bullet.
 
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Fenway

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you and I live and work in two different bostons evidently. With all due respect, I don’t think your assessment is accurate or reflective of the current reality.
The Back Bay has bounced back BUT not the old downtown. In any event, the T has to reimage the service to the Seaport - The Silver Line was designed thinking the Patriots and Red Sox would move there. Perhaps it is time to look at the Indigo Line once again

 
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Except SEPTA, METRA, LIRR and MNRR on their electrified sections of course.
SEPTA in the 1980's went with push pull (Bombardier coaches + AEM-7 locos) to replace the elderly MP-54 and RDG Blueliner MUs. Only much later on did they go back to MUs and go for the Hyundai Rotem Silverliner V to replace the Silverliner 2/3 fleet.

Another thought I had concerning the T. Imagine how much different things would have been if instead of building the Ted Williams Tunnel, the Commonwealth had elected to build the red/blue connector plus a spur off of the Blue Line to serve the terminals at Logan Airport. Probably could have been done for less money that the TWT ended up costing and a much better environmental impact.
 

jis

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SEPTA in the 1980's went with push pull (Bombardier coaches + AEM-7 locos) to replace the elderly MP-54 and RDG Blueliner MUs. Only much later on did they go back to MUs and go for the Hyundai Rotem Silverliner V to replace the Silverliner 2/3 fleet.
They had all of 7 push pull sets. The entire rest of the system remained EMU. The push-pulls were generally used, appropriately for services with more infrequent stops while EMUs were used consistently for frequent stop service.
 

Bostontoallpoints

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you and I live and work in two different bostons evidently. With all due respect, I don’t think your assessment is accurate or reflective of the current reality.


I agree whole-heartedly with this.



I found this article touched on good points. Healey was not a magic bullet.

"Occupancy rates on any given day in Boston office buildings are just 30 to 50 percent, said Tyler McGrail, executive managing director of the Boston office of the commercial real estate firm Newmark, during a market forecast presentation last month sponsored by NAIOP. A recent city report said downtown foot traffic is 55 percent below its pre-pandemic levels. "

Also, it's too early to Judge Governor Healey on the MBTA. First she needs to find a competent General Manager. That may take a while and I'm fine with waiting for the right person rather than installing a mediocre manager quickly.
 
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Fenway

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The interim GM does live on all the local stations to say things are bad but getting better.


 
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