Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone says the MBTA’s woes hit his metropolis significantly exhausting.
Despite the actual fact that it’s the most densely populated neighborhood in New England, pass-through site visitors makes up 83 % of vehicles on the highway in Somerville, in response to Curtatone. That means town relies on public transit — from the Orange Line that runs by means of Assembly Square to the Red Line station in Davis Square to all of the bus routes in between — to maneuver round native residents and staff as effectively as doable. With the Boston space’s worsening congestion downside, when a hearth shuts down service on the Orange Line or when a Red Line derailment disrupts service for months, Somerville residents don’t have many options.
“For all the penny pinching we did in underfunding the T, what we truly can’t afford is a metro region where nobody can get anywhere,” Curtatone wrote in an opinion piece Wednesday for FrequentWealth journal. “A broken transit system breaks people’s lives, breaks our economy, breaks down the fabric that binds together our cities and towns.”
The Somerville Democrat says the MBTA’s unreliable service “is a problem 100 percent of our own making.” Transportation advocates say the system is affected by the consequences of years of underfunding and neglect. Currently, officers are working to speed up MBTA enchancment initiatives and to increase the Green Line to Somerville and Medford.
Curtatone says they should go additional.
In his FrequentWealth piece, he known as for aggressive funding within the MBTA, warning that the promise of the Green Line Extension venture “is getting hollowed out by deficient service.” Curtatone additionally mentioned that commuter rail trains and buses needs to be electrical and steered there needs to be extra connections outdoors of downtown Boston.
But maybe his most head-turning proposal was to make the system free, which he mentioned must also cut back emissions by offering an incentive for extra commuters to take public transit.
“If we really care about climate action, we have to consider making the MBTA free,” Curtatone wrote. “The service should be so good and cost-friendly that you’d be crazy not to use it. We got to our current state of affairs by underperforming on small ideas. The reliability has to improve and we need to raise the revenue for it somewhere other than off the backs of the riders who’ve already paid too much for broken promises. It’s time we delivered radical improvements rather than unjust [fare] hikes.”
The Somerville mayor isn’t the primary native elected official to suggest such an thought. Amid looming fare hikes earlier this yr, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu known as for a fare-free system in January. Last month, town of Lawrence made three native bus routes free.
In a July opinion piece for the Somerville Times, Curtatone mentioned that it was time to “put every idea for new, non-rider revenue on the table,” versus burdening riders with further fare hikes. With the Green Line Extension on monitor to be completed within the fall of 2021, he mentioned the necessity for enhancements is especially urgent.
“It will put 85% of Somerville residents within walking distance of a T station,” Curtatone wrote. “We will go from somewhat dependent to overwhelmingly dependent on transit. It is critical for us to address these maintenance issues before that switch gets flipped. The GLX itself will be brand new, but everything it connects to has been starved for attention for too long.”
Curtatone isn’t solely involved concerning the the value of the MBTA’s core service, noting in his FrequentWealth piece that the month-to-month price of a commuter rail go “practically forces people into relying on auto transit,” whereas the shortage of reasonably priced housing pushes lower-income earners farther away from Boston — and farther away from jobs.
“Transit is a pressing local issue for all of us,” he wrote. “We get nothing but bad outcomes if we don’t take dramatic action to fix the MBTA and commuter rail. Conversely, we get nothing but good outcomes if we do.”