EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT the collapse of the T and wondering whether, to borrow a phrase from departing GM Beverly Scott, even God Jr. could get the trains running on time again. The stakes are incredibly high for Greater Boston and the state as a whole, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of people who ride the T on a regular basis. Here are five takes on the T:


Everything is riding on the T

By Joseph Curtatone


OConnor, Peter

Let’s not let this crisis go to waste

By Peter O’Connor



 Put the T in receivership

By Pioneer Institute



VIDEO: T-pocalypse

By Jim Aloisi, Charlie Chieppo, and Gabrielle Gurley




Aloisi’s fixes for the T

By Jim Aloisi




7 replies on “Five takes on the T”

  1. Great piece, but I have to point out one overarching error: the T is not the state’s transit agency. Your headline dismisses transit service in Central Mass, the Pioneer Valley, the Merrimack Valley, amd other regions of the state with underfunded, necessary transit services.

    In fact, the concept of all things Boston as synonymous with Massachusetts is in part what limits leguslative consensus on transit spending statewide. Yes, Greater Boston’s economic vitality sets the tone for much of the state – from manufacturing to education – but please don’t discount those transit services outside 495.

  2. I agree. The central funding issue for the T remains that it relies on revenue raised from statewide taxes to fund a system that serves only a small part of the state. Politically, legislators from communities outside of the T’s service area will never allow their constituents to be taxed to the extent required to build and maintain the transit system Boston needs. Why should a taxpayer in Mattapoisett or Pittsfield pay for my subway ride? Throw in the widespread resentment of Boston’s political power that’s common beyond Rt. 128, and this is a powerful, enduring dynamic. The solution is a tax imposed solely within the T’s service area. It could be a new tax imposed on each resident or each car owner, for instance, or a surcharge on area residents’ existing income or gas taxes. The T could even raise the amount it assesses municipalities within its service area and let each municipality decide for itself how to raise the revenue needed to cover the assessment (a property tax surcharge, for instance). The alternative is the existing structure whose dynamic requires that to get more money from the state, the T has to dedicate a portion to expansion projects in order to assemble enough legislators to vote for the funding increase. And we’ve seen where that approach has gotten us. A regional tax would also have the advantage of providing correct incentives for regions demanding those expansion projects: if we build a line to your community, you’ll be subject to the regional tax. That might help reign in the desire for costly expansions.

  3. The entire state benefits from economic activity in Boston. Do you think the roads in Pittsfield are paved with tax revenues generated only in the Berkshires? Do your federal income taxes only go to defend the borders of Massachusetts, to sponsor scientific research only performed in the commonwealth? We live in a civilization. These cost money to operate. We don’t pick and choose which components of civilization we fancy paying for.

  4. jhersey3, this is a critical point you make. When I was at DOT with Jim Aloisi (a brief, shining moment, emphasis on “brief,” and well, also on “shining”) he had a huge focus on geographic, and generational, fairness. But at the moment, the biggest transit demand (just in terms of sheer numbers of riders) is in the greater Boston region. I’m all for more public transit being available to all of the Commonwealth, but if we can’t get it right in the part of the Commonwealth that obviously needs it the most and can support it the most, how are we going to make it work in places like Worcester or the Berkshires?

  5. I also think it would be terrific if commenters could reveal their true identities on this site. We are all adults here.

  6. Yes, Josh, we do pick and choose which projects to pay for and of course we should. And, counting the cost of the big dig–both construction costs and the cost of financing that debt– greater Boston has gotten more than its share of transportation spending over the past quarter century. Focusing more state dollars on fixing the T would, by definition, only exacerbate that unfairness. And in the long run, the current funding structure–the T paid for mostly with state dollars–greater Boston will never get the transit system it needs because there will never be the political will to raise enough revenue statewide.

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