In Common Wealth Magazine, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone made the case for why the MBTA matters to all of Massachusetts. Nice to see a political leader come out and say it. He put it in fairly stark terms:
Greater Boston represents the lion’s share of economic activity in Massachusetts. The money for schools, healthcare, and roads throughout the state largely comes from the tax base of Greater Boston. If Boston fails to deliver economically, the knock-on effects will be felt in every corner of Massachusetts.
He didn’t play up the standard line about economic justice or how a functional MBTA gets essential health and safety workers to their jobs (all true). Instead he focused on the ability of metro Boston to attract and retain business with a substandard public transit system. He wrote:
This breakdown sounds a clear warning that the reliability of our economic engine has become suspect. Think about what the MBTA and commuter rail do at the most fundamental level: they connect people to their jobs. … This is about as simple an issue as you will ever encounter in the public arena. If we won’t make the necessary investments to keep our economic center viable, then why should the private sector invest its money?
It will be interesting to see if various chambers of commerce and business associations (e.g. the Massachusetts High Technology Council) make this an issue. If Governor Baker and Speaker DeLeo are going to be spurred into action by anyone, it’s going to be business leaders telling them “Your crappy transit system is costing me money.”