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Transportation Issues in the Spotlight

The region’s transportation system has been under the microscope in the wake of an historic winter. Government leaders, business organizations and transportation advocates have been busy crafting statements, completing studies and planning for a future system that can withstand the hazards of harsh New England weather.

The Baker administration responded to the woes of the MBTA by commissioning a study of the agency which proposes, among other things, the creation of a financial and management control to provide oversight of the T’s financial operations. Naturally lawmakers are hesitant to cede control and have questioned several of the study’s findings. Meanwhile the Pioneer Institute, in their own study of the MBTA, was far more critical of the agencies spending and management operations.

In response to the issues surrounding the MBTA’s operations, business leaders throughout greater Boston have come together to issue a statement regarding the expectations of a future transit system. The Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce along with more than 20 other business advocacy groups has signed on to the statement urging the Governor and the Legislature to implement the findings of the Governor’s Special Panel. The statement reads in part, “The unreliability of our public transit system caused many businesses to lose substantial revenues from the loss of productivity due to delays and/or the inability of workers to get to work. Many hourly workers forfeited wages; many retailers forfeited sales; many restaurants forfeited patrons; and the Commonwealth forfeited the income, sales and meals tax associated therewith. A sub-optimal public transit system also caused roadways to be more congested than usual and commuting times to grow to unreasonable lengths for those who opted to drive or were transporting goods. The adverse financial impacts totaled in the billions of dollars. This is unacceptable and must not be repeated.” To read the complete statement, click here.

Last Friday, a Massachusetts Transportation Summit was held in Worcester entitled, Fixing What We Have, Building What We Need. The event featured several guest speakers including, MassDOT Secretary, Stephanie Pollock. Ideas were generated and discussed by a variety of business people, public officials and transportation advocates.

The bottom line on all of this is that most people agree on the transportation challenges that we face. The biggest of those is how do we deal with the challenges in the immediate future and of course, how do we pay for it?