I’m traveling today — which included an agonizing 77 bus trip this morning. Those dedicated bus lanes can’t come soon enough.
This almost feels like a cheap shot, but I’m going to say it anyway … From Friday’s MA Playbook:
TAKING A VICTORY LAP ON THE TRAIN — Buried at the end of yesterday’s second winter storm press conference were hints of a victory lap from Transportation Sec. Stephanie Pollack over how the Baker administration handled yesterday’s storm — and how it’s an improvement over 2015, the worst winter for commuters in recent history.
It’s a helpful point for them to make as Baker enters his first re-election cycle and Democrats eager to unseat him eye his record with the MBTA as a potential wedge between the governor and the voters who so highly approve of him.
“What I saw, is that due to a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, and a lot of investment, a lot of things went right today,” Pollack said. This echoes Gov. Charlie Baker’s narrative about improving the T — and actions including $85 million in investment in the MBTA’s winter resilliency after the winter of 2015.
After running on a limited schedule during the storm, the commuter rail was expected to return to normal weekday service Friday as temperatures plummeted. Instead nearly every commuter rail line experienced interruptions during either the morning or afternoon commute, with multiple trains serving North Station canceled and many trains out of South Station well behind schedule.
We don’t expect miracles, but we do expect improvement. And if we can’t get that … at least we want hope — planning, vision, etc.
Now, Jim Aloisi (of all people) tells us not to “politicize” the issue:
3/ It is not helpful to politicize these issues, because they are not partisan issues. The T’s current challenges have roots in decisions made by Executives & Legislators of both parties.
— Jim Aloisi (@JimAloisi) January 8, 2018
All respect to Aloisi, who’s a big transit advocate. He’s partly right and partly wrong. It is not a “partisan” issue, since the austerity has been imposed by our Democratic legislature over the years. But surely accountability is political. The MBTA is in the executive branch, and we have an elected executive. The elected legislature funds it, or refrains from funding it. Both branches — and our seemingly AWOL (elected) auditor — are responsible for oversight. Imagine if everyone waiting in the cold for a train, picked up their phones and called their state rep and Senator to complain about the miserable shape of the T. Would things change? Would that change the political urgency of the matter? Would candidates and primaries turn on who makes better, bolder, more credible transportation promises?
I say, more transportation politics — in both parties. It’s been a bipartisan failure. Demand results — from whomever is in power.