Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The T shuts down

Hundreds of thousands of people sit in their homes or stranded at work (like those in hospitals) unable to ride the Boston transit system today:

The T announced tonight: “On Tuesday, all MBTA rail services (Subway, Trolley, and Commuter Rail) will be suspended all day while maintenance crews continue to clear snow and ice from tracks, the third rail and switches.

“Mechanical forces will continue to assess the damage done to subway cars, trolleys, locomotives and passenger coaches. Bus service will be available on an extremely limited basis with various buses on snow routes. Buses will run with delays due to traffic congestion and local street conditions,” the statement adds.
I hearken back to a piece I wrote for Commonwealth Magazine in 2011 about essential infrastructure like this. I'm so sorry to have been correct, but this happens over and over again in this state.  Excerpts:

"The metropolitan area transit system is the current poster child for this built-in dynamic that leads us to put off infrastructure investments. The MBTA is severely underfunded with regard to maintenance and upgrades of the regional bus and subway system. On the Orange Line, 120 cars built between 1979 and 1981 need to be replaced. On the Red Line, 74 cars from 1969 are well past their useful life. More than half of the MBTA’s 82 commuter rail locomotives date to the 1970s, and nearly all are at or past the manufacturer’s recommended lifespan of 25 years.

"Public officials, having depleted one-time financial fixes, lurch about for long-term funding solutions, while the system deteriorates more each year.

"If we neglect infrastructure, we will always pay more in the long run. But an equally important—and far less widely appreciated—lesson is that building a political constituency for infrastructure investments is a job that must be taken on by the public agencies themselves, a role often neglected by those appointed to run those agencies.

"I fear we are repeating today the same shortsighted approach that cost us so dearly with regard to our water and sewer infrastructure and the horrific despoliation of Boston Harbor. Well-intentioned public servants are tip-toeing around the need for major investments in the regional transit system, using terms like “reform before revenue” to delay action. But the delays that result from the lack of investment are substantial and growing."

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