Sunday, December 3, 2006

Activists are trying to price public transit out of existence

Boston, MA - Several recent stories out of the Boston area have proven something I've believed for decades. Activist groups are helping to price public transit out of existence.

The first news story I bring up deals with a lawsuit over the MBTA's Silver Line service. Claiming discrimination, activists tried to force the MBTA to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer money to change the Silver Line from buses to Light Rail Transit (LRT).

Thanks to the whiny lawsuit by a handful of activists, the cost to run the Silver Line have now gone up as the MBTA is now required to maintain and provide quarterly data on the line to the Feds. This data is primarily to help keep the activists at bay.

Thankfully, the courts have ruled in the favor of the MBTA on this one. Still, the costs have increased thanks to a small bunch of activists that think they know more than anyone else.

The second news story related to activism raising costs deals with an agreement that the MBTA has entered into for extending the Green Line. Activists using environmentalism rather than discrimination pushed for the extension over issues from the Big Dig.

Guess what, the MBTA really doesn't have the money to extend the line, yet alone operate it, but the activists don't care. I take that back, they'll care when fares are raised and service gets cut to help pay for it and file another lawsuit.

The activists groups that push these types of lawsuits against public transit refuse to see the big picture. They only want to see what they wish to see. These activists love to claim how they support public transit but they'll make any wild claim to make the lawsuit stick and don't care that they're actually helping to destroy public transit.

The amount of money that these types of activists cost public transit agencies every year in lawsuits and increased costs to operate literally go into the billions of dollars. From defending itself in court to additional paperwork and costs to implement and run what the activists want, the cost to the public transit agencies is staggering. With all this wasted money, public transit could really be improved for everyone but it'll never happen as long as these ridiculous lawsuits continue to be allowed.

A big Lance goes out to all the activist groups that are trying to make public transit unaffordable to the people.


John Mc said...

Sorry to read about your differing opinion. We're not trying to make public transit unaffordable, but to make it useable.

20 years ago when the T tore down the orange line, they promised 'equal or better' service for those neighborhoods. The Silver LIe is not equal or better. We're just trying to get them to keep their promise.

12 years ago the STATE government agrees to transit improvements to justify spending 15 billion on a roadway. The STATE, not the T needs to spend money on those agreed upon transit improvements.

WHy does spending on keeping the same highways in repair called investment, but spending to improve public transit is a waste of money??

- John Mc

RDC said...

I wanted to think on this one before responding.

What set me off on this story in the first place was the claim of discrimination.

In the city I live in, the transit system has 3 exclusive bus only roadways (East, South and West) but in the 4th area (North) where I happen to live, all we get is a half-baked HOV lane that's only opened during certain hours. Thats not equal to or better than the 3 busways in other parts of the county but no claims of discrimination were made.

Public transit is inherently expensive. Sadly, much more expensive than roads are in the long term although the Big Dig was a disaster from it's inception and is more of an exception to the rule.

Trusting the government to keep its "promises" is like trusting a known con-artist to keep their word. It's not going to happen regardless of who's in control of the government. They're going to do what they want to do and say whatever it takes to get their way.

I whole heartedly agree with you about your last paragraph but I do have one little piece to add...

Transit systems today, across the US, go out of their way to find new ways to waste money. The more you give them, the more ways they come up with to waste the money on anything except providing decent service. Then they cry for more taxpayer money and threaten to cut the service they do provide.

I can give you example after example after example of such actions from public transit operations across the US. My local system is the one of the top ones for finding new ways to waste taxpayer money.

Public transit systems really need to clean up their act before pumping more money into them.

RailBus63 said...

The real problem with the Washington Street replacement service wasn't caused by the MBTA, it was created by the federal government when they refused to pay for a light-rail line because it was too close to the Orange Line heavy-rail route they had just sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into.

Bottom line, the feds still aren't going to pay to put a Green Line branch down Washington Street, and the state can't afford to pay after the Big Dig fiasco.

Instead of fighting a battle they lost years ago, why doesn't John Mc and others do something truly useful and focus on improving what they have? Start by getting the Boston Police to enforce the bus only lanes and the MBTA to supervise the Silver Line properly to prevent overcrowding and bus bunching. Give this service a fighting chance - even if you won your lawsuit, those silver buses are still going to be running for years to come.