One Critical Element for Improving Mass Transit: A Local Press Corps That Uses It

This isn’t a particularly devastating article about the trials of Boston’s mass transit system, the MBTA (aka ‘the T’). It’s well-written, but what I find notable is the subject matter: it’s about service delays. When I lived in Boston, the Globe (and the Herald) focused on the typical mass transit stories: collisions, fires, and graft (oh my!). What they didn’t focus on, to the chagrin of actual riders, was performance (delays and overcrowded trains*).

Then the Globe moved to a new building, and a bunch of Globe employees, including editors and columnists, started to depend on the T. Lo and behold, the tenor of the coverage changed. Sure, they still covered the collisions, fires, and graft (oh my!), but they also focused on the crappy service–nobody likes showing up late to a meeting because the T crapped out.

This isn’t a new observation on my part–the shift began almost immediately after the move. But it does illustrate an important point: when those who decide what news is important miss out on key experiences the rest of us hoi polloi have to suffer, they don’t cover the right things. When they do have to suffer like the rest of us, suddenly, it’s a crisis. As Elongated Muskrat would tweet, interesting.

*Crush capacity shouldn’t be a regular thing.

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