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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Partial lesson

The board of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is apparently listening -- with one semi-open ear.

Instead of an outrageous doubling of tolls in Weston, Allston-Brighton and the tunnels, the board voted a nickel-and-dime raise (OK, quarter and half dollar but that doesn't sound as good!) while promising to go back to the drawing board to find ways to pay their debts without sticking it only to Metrowest commuters.

Maybe they noticed a story in yesterday's Herald about what former MBTA riders are doing -- despite the "commuter-friendly" ennui of Dan "I Don't Ride the Railroad" Grabauskas.

The operative phrases in that story:
Relentless hikes in T fares are spurring disgruntled commuters to boycott buses and subways, leading to a 2.3 percent drop in ridership - or 8.7 million rides - over the last fiscal year, according to a Herald review of MBTA data.

From fiscal years 2006 to 2007, total ridership decreased from 382.3 million to 373.5 million, according to T statistics.
While it's true automobile commuters can't walk dozens of miles to the office, they do have options.

The airport tunnels have a captive audience -- swimming with luggage is difficult if not discouraged. But I would be curious to check traffic volumes on roads like the Route 9 and Soldiers Field Road/Storrow Drive to see what has happened in recent years -- and compare that to what will happen when tolls go up.

Anecdotally, based on the few times I try Route 9 during rush hour, I would say there has been a large increase in volume that will only get worse. And when Storrow Tunnel repairs get underway, watch out.

Still, the turnpike authority decision to go low instead of high is a curiously refreshing change from the arrogance that marked the board under Matt Amorello and his predecessors.

Memo to Deval: Isn't it time to sack Grabauskas, who is probably closing in on his 20-year state pension?

Heading out for a few days on a different mode of transportation. Happy Columbus Day!

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