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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Get Danny off the MTA...

MBTA commuters are about to get stuck. Hard. But in exchange for forking over more cash for the same crummy service (and avoiding the threat of even worse service) riders need to demand one major concession in return.

Smilin' Dan Grabauskas has got to go.

After all, the entire Turnpike Authority is heading out to pasture as part of the deal to avoid a massive toll increase. Shouldn't T riders expect some similar quid pro quo in exchange for higher costs? What about the concept of accountability?

Grabauskas inherited a mess -- and he has contributed to an even bigger ones. Schedules are a sometimes thing, whether for buses and trains or subway station renovations (when exactly will Kenmore be finished?)

And while the T, like the soon-to-be-late and unlamented Pike Authority, was saddled with debt by a Legislature that has excelled in putting problems off until tomorrow, Grabauskas has excelled in doing little to nothing to advocate for riders.

And the same charge can be hurled at Transportation Secretary James Aloisi (ditching him might not be a bad idea either, but Danny has been around a lot longer.)

Let's face it -- no one lobbied as hard for T commuters as for Pike users (and I agree the proposed hikes were ludicrous.) Instead, Smilin' Dan held a gun to his riders head -- saying pay more or I cut out night and weekend service.

Legislators like House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Wagner of Chicopee had no concept of the T's importance in the scheme of things. Their outright refusal to consider a gasoline tax -- which would have provided bailouts for both Pike drivers and T riders -- shows a total lack of effective advocacy for riders.

And to make matters worse, the $160 million in relief that Grabauskas sought and won from lawmakers was clearly not enough to get the job done.

So, while riders will be shelling out even more for lousy service they have one last arrow in their quiver: Let's get Danny off the MTA.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grabauskas is the only reason the T is still functioning at all. You lose him, and things will be ten times worse.

July 09, 2009 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robot, we need robots, and we need them now. Robots to drive our trains, robots to collect fares. Robots to zap fare evaders with a device called a "laser" Get rid of all the humans that have anything to do with running any of the MBTA and I'm certain service will be a billion times more efficient. Sure, the initial upfront costs will be high, but think of the children. OH MY GOD WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

That said, yes replace all the fleshlings with some robots. We're in the future aren't we?

July 09, 2009 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say Aloisi didn't "lobby hard" for MBTA users--he was still bitching about the legislature's inaction in this morning's papers--but he's clearly the wrong guy to do it. A disliked and marginalized voice.

July 09, 2009 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More than a third of the T's budget goes to debt service. Beacon Hill has been kicking this political football around for years. Lawmakers have disingenuously decried the T's inability to turn a profit, as if any public transportation system in the world isn't subsidized. Those morons should have helped the T pay off its debt before it became crippling. Now the economy has gone to hell and there's no money for that. I can't blame Grabauskus for any of that.

July 09, 2009 5:46 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

I agree Grabauskas isn't responsible for the debt mess the Legislature foisted upon him.

He is responsible for the failure to work hard enough to get a fairer share of the pie in this "once in a lifetime" transportation reform (until the next one).

But ultimately he is responsible for system that doesn't run on time, that bleeds revenue through fare jumping and just poor performance (which on the Green Line means fares come in the back doors). And he is also responsible for a capital system that is a disgrace for being not on time and not on budget.

We need a symbolic sacrifice -- not unlike the elimination of the Turnpike Authority. He's it.

July 09, 2009 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only reason the public is aware of, and the legislature is reacting to, the MBTA's debt load is because of Grabauskas's persistent call for action (much to the Governor's chagrin).

If you think these proposed fare increases and service cuts were not developed in conjunction with, and blessed by, the Governor and the Secretary of Transportation's office, you are even dumber than your insipid daily rants regularly demonstrate.

July 09, 2009 8:27 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Welcome aboard anon 8:27

July 10, 2009 4:47 AM  
Blogger Chris Rich said...

Wow OL, looks like you got an apologist from Dan's office on your tip. Here's a tip. Disable anonymous commenting as it is a form of cowardice.

I don't allow anonamids at any of my blog sites and it works like a charm, much easier than doing a captcha set up.

Turning to the Danliness of it all, yes the guy is an idiot. But then, so are the masshole multitudes who object to gas tax raises.

A day will come when fuel costs will make happy motoring untenable. I imagine it will begin soon after the planetary economy gets back to life.

And employment growth always lags in a recovery so gas prices will begin to spike before many of the jobless and underemployed recover.

The happy motorists see the right to beat on roads, congest away and pave every available square foot of land for parking lots as an entitlement and the idea of introducing ways to finally get them to stop their impoverishment of the commonwealths infrastructure is met with the agitation one sees when one takes away a toy from a toddler bent on flushing it down a toilet.

The T is a legacy system that will come into its own as the car conceit fades.

Beyond Smiley, who only has a run of months left on his contract, the biggest T problem is a routing belief that all roads must lead to Boston when the place has been dwarfed by all the economic activity that occurs in the misty distance beyond 128.

We need a system that gets you from Natick to Needham or Wellesley to Waltham without the convolutions of going into Boston first.

The main problem with this is a T culture that sees all through the prism of rails and makes an idiot stepchild of buses.

This even holds in town. To get from Inman square to your neighborhood I can either take the red to the green and all the horror of it or I can walk a few blocks to a bus stop and do a run all the way to Cleveland circle without a single transfer.

Buses are gloriously cheap and flexible when compared with new rail construction but a state dominated by a crooked construction lobby never met a boondoggle it didn't like.

Oh and my captcha word is telepathic, 'wines', which you seem to have been peppered with by the anonamid Dan lover.

July 10, 2009 8:21 AM  

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