Last evening I arrived at South Station at 6:10 p.m. for the 6:15 p.m. P529 Worcester-Framingham train, only to be met by a swarm of people. Due to "equipment failures" the majority of the trains weren't even in the bays.
We departed late and I arrived to the Grafton station around 7:30 p.m. Overall, the train was about 10-15 minutes behind schedule. This isn't enough for a fare reimbursement, but this will affect the line's "on-time performance" rating for February 2008.
The commute was on time this morning. The train was definitely less crowded than yesterday. I bet people are taking off today and tomorrow for the end of the school vacation week. I don't think the heat was working all too well ... my car was lukewarm. Blah.
In other news, the big MBTA story yesterday and today was in regards to the new cars that were launched on the MBTA Blue Line. The Boston Globe wrote an article about the new cars yesterday and an editorial about the cars today. The editorial lead off with this sentence:
The T needs a financial renovation to match the quality of the cars.Then the editorial board provided a bit of history of the MBTA Blue line. The editorial closed with the following:
"We're broke," said General Manager Daniel A. Grabauskas earlier this month, explaining that the T faced a $75 million deficit for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. So how could it afford 94 cars costing $172 million? The federal government defrayed 80 percent of the cost, and the rest came from the T's capital budget. But federal aid won't pay the cost of maintaining the cars and stations, nor work down the $8 billion debt that consumes 27 percent of the T budget every year.
The Legislature thought it had solved the problem of T financing in 1999, when it allotted the authority 20 percent of sales tax revenue. That revenue source hasn't grown as expected. By maintaining the heavy burden of T debt and keeping in place expensive labor contracts, the Legislature guaranteed it would need to revisit the problem. At the least, the Legislature should consider moving some T debt to other state accounts, and reexamining the relationship between the authority and its employee unions.
The Patrick administration is also looking for new approaches to transportation funding, for highways as well as the T. While new cars are fun to ride and easy for public officials to celebrate, as they did at the Aquarium station yesterday, there is little glory in providing money to keep up day-to-day service.
Seventeen months after the Orient Heights gala, on Saturday, Dec. 6, 1980, the entire MBTA system shut down because of a lack of money. An energized Legislature got it back in operation in time for the Monday commute. The political leadership of Massachusetts shouldn't wait for a crisis to put the MBTA on a sustainable financial footingI agree - the political leadership AND the business leadership in Massachusetts needs to ensure that the MBTA is on a "substantial financial footing." There is too much at stake to not ensure that the Commonwealth has an adequate public transportation system that serves citizens. Cities and towns are reliant on this transportation. Not to mention that our crowded highways can't endure more congestion.