Thursday, June 26, 2008

Association for Public Transportation Urges Rail Infrastructure Investment

According to an article in today's Telegram & Gazette, former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis is frustrated that the Commonwealth's public transportation system is not as adequate as it could be.

Not wanting to say, "I told you so," but certainly implying that, Dukakis was quoted as saying:
"Twenty-five, thirty years ago, it was obvious that we were heading for this."

What's this, you might ask? Well it is the rising cost of gas that is causing residents to seek alternative transportation options which aren't as robust as they could be.

Dukakis was the keynote speaker at last night's Association for Public Transportation's annual meeting. The article noted the following:
The former governor and his wife, Kitty, recently visited Europe, a trip that
reminded him that the United States has “underinvested” in rail. “You come back
to the United States and it’s embarrassing,” he said.

I know that Mr. Dukakis is not just a big advocate, but he follows what he preaches. Back in 2005, I ended up on the same flight that Mr. Dukakis and his wife Kitty were on. We were flying from Madrid to Amsterdam. Assuming that most people with anytime of celebrity cred would fly first class turned out to be just that - an assumption. Mr. Dukakis, his wife and the other couple they were traveling with sat behind me in plain old regular coach.

The article continued to mention the challenges in extended commuter rail service between Worcester and Boston because the tracks are owned by CSX. As we all know, the state is trying to purchase the rail tracks that are between Worcester and Framingham.

While last night's meeting focused on commuter issues, the attendees also noted that transit agencies must work with freight companies to be successful.

Transportation infrastructure is aging, increasingly congested, and unable to
accommodate the current population,” said keynote speaker Frank J. Busalacchi,
secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation. For decades, public funds
for transportation have been devoted to highways, but that model no longer
works, he said.

“We need the same commitment to mass transit as we make to highways,” he said. “It’s going to be very costly.”

In other news, there was another fatality on the tracks yesterday. Last night an outbound Fitchburg commuter rail train struck and killed a person on the Concord-Lincoln town line.

Finally, WickedLocal-Boxborough published an article about the MBTA's funding issues.

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