There’s a pattern with the Baker administration: They refuse to solve problems. They claim their hands are tied; proposed solutions just won’t work; and we’ll just have to muddle along at their own approved pace. They do just enough to look busy without actually helping very much.
So isn’t it refreshing when someone calls all that into question — with receipts. This clip from WGBH’s Greater Boston was bracing — ah, that’s the tingle. It featured Jim Braude talking to Livable Street’s Stacy Thompson and Transportation for MA’s Chris Dempsey, who are having none of the Baker administration’s lack of imagination, urgency, and courage in addressing our transportation crisis:
Is Baker doing everything he can — both for transportation congestion and for the climate? Baker claimed to WCVB’s Janet Wu “I think people will have a winter where the T will be there when it needs to be.” Even since this clip aired, we have some early returns on winter performance, and they are … dispiriting. Today had an Orange Line collapse and Red Line delays; yesterday saw delays, some very significant, on the the Lowell, Newbury/Rockport, Franklin, Providence, Worcester lines. Other than the failures, it was a day of success.
Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln … Dempsey and Thompson point out that the Orange and Red Line projects are behind. Thompson recounts that the old Orange Line car she boarded was literally leaking — an experience with which any T rider can relate.
Dempsey and Thompson also take on Transportation Secretary Pollack on congestion pricing: Does it work? Is it fair? Pollack and Baker have characterized it as “punishment” for drivers who don’t have other choices, but as Dempsey says: Punishment is the status quo. The funding stream from a congestion price can go directly to transit, creating new travel options. And we do need the money right away, for more buses, operators, and dispatchers. Citing London, Seattle, and San Francisco as case studies for congestion pricing, Dempsey and Thompson both note that traffic has decreased, and bus ridership increased. And we could continue to institute new bus lanes, favoring throughput of people, rather than cars.
How arithmetically sound; how impossibly idealistic to this administration. None of this is rocket science. It’s pretty blunt-instrument incentive-setting. But Baker is afraid of that — not because it’s inherently “unfair”, but because it would mean an adjustment for suburban commuters, ie. his base. And … I guess they’d rather suffer, and create massive amounts of pollution in the process, shortening the lifespan of our time on earth.
But it’s not the way things have to be. Unless you insist on it, like Baker and Pollack do.