Mass Transit Helps Drivers: The Boston Edition

Or, as more than one transportation expert has put, “You’re not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic.” Yvonne Abraham (boldface mine):

Take Monday’s news of an MBTA fare increase, an average rise of 9.3 percent — despite protests, and a statute clearly intended to make such a large jump impossible. Based on the Department of Transportation’s own numbers, advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts estimates the MBTA will see 6 million fewer rides a year after the increase.

It means more cars on the roads,” said the group’s director, Kristina Egan. “The region needs to become less congested to work, to fight climate change more, to provide more opportunities to people of low income. We are moving in the wrong direction.”

Motorists benefit from public transit, too, but they’re not being asked to pony up the way T riders are. An analysis by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council found that, over the last 20 years, T fares have gone up 97 percent. But during that period, the price of gas has gone down 1 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, and the value of the gas tax has dropped 28 percent.

“What we’re seeing here is a huge shift of the cost to transit riders,” said MAPC chief Marc Draisen.

Making the MBTA pricier is one way of clogging roadways.

This is a point I’ve made before, but it bears repeating–your commute, if you drive, in many metropolitan areas is made substantially easier thanks to mass transit:

The reality is, if you’re a suburbanite who lives in a metropolitan area, even if you never use mass transit, you really do need it. It’s time a lot of people in the D.C. area (let’s be honest, disproportionately white people) stop viewing mass transit as something use by and solely for others, especially ‘urban’ people and the poor (AAAIIIEEE!!), and start realizing how it makes their own lives better, just like fixing roads does.

It’s almost like we’re part of one community or something.

And shifting mass transit costs even more to users simply means that they’re paying more to reduce traffic congestion–which, as noted at the top of the post, the fault of drivers. Seems fair.

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1 Response to Mass Transit Helps Drivers: The Boston Edition

  1. ocschwar says:

    On the third day of the Snowpocalypse, last winter, with the Orange and Red lines in suspect shape, many people from the north of Boston chose to drive instead of taking the T. I remember that night, Cambridge around Kendal Square was utterly gridlocked, and traffic did not improve all the way to Porter and Davis Squares. I trudged most of the way to Medford on foot, in 3 feet of snow, and got home faster than most people.

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