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With such highlights as a ceiling panel falling in the Harvard Square stop, impatient parents in town for junior family weekend, and Harvard employees arriving late for work, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority seems to be the architect of nuisance for many Harvard affiliates.
But Harvard is not the biggest casualty. Our predicaments are only shallow reflections of a much deeper — and more literal — trainwreck for Massachusetts residents.
Across the state and over the last year, MBTA users have unfortunately become well acquainted with a train on fire, sparks and explosions, line shutdowns, newly imposed slow zones to protect vulnerable tracks, and even a passenger death — with not an end in sight.
Boston residents do not deserve these tragedies; they deserve a robust, accessible, and safe transit system. The benefits of such a system are plentiful: community connections for students like us, more movement outside immediate neighborhoods for residents, less congestion on busy roads, reduced air pollution, increased commuter productivity as hands are freed from the wheel — we could go on.
The ideal T would embody mobility justice: enabling people of all races, backgrounds, and abilities to feel safe in our streets.
Instead, transit fares are regressive — meaning fares constitute a larger proportion of income from low-income commuters, who make up 29 percent of T users, in comparison to their wealthier counterparts — and transport can be difficult to access during chilly Massachusetts winters. To solve these inequities, the T should implement fare-free or reduced fare allowances, as well as bus stops with overhead shelters to protect against harsh weather conditions.
The current sorry state of the T points to local and state governments seemingly having put the need for an equitable and secure transit system on the back burner — despite their earlier promises.
Last year, Massachusetts voters, in alignment with our own Editorial Board’s stance, passed the “Fair Share Amendment” to invest a projected $2 billion in taxes on the wealthy into transit and education. Governor Maura T. Healey ’92 recognized this majority will of the people in her inaugural address, when she pledged to allocate a portion of her first budget towards hiring 1,000 MBTA workers — but last month, her administration did not provide this funding in the state budget, saying that the T was already allocated the money last year. We ask Governor Healey to recommit to revitalizing public transit in our state.
One way to reinvigorate the T is by redesigning its management structure to focus more on the payment of workers and staffers. We support the proposal made by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu ’07 to add a Boston-specific seat to the MBTA’s board; we hope this new board member will be able to successfully change the MBTA’s priorities from the inside.
Our recent MBTA woes are not new. But we, as residents, should not accept a dysfunctional system. We need the T to get its trains back on track.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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