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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Monday, April 02, 2012

Close call

It's not the slam dunk that it may appear.

A Globe poll that found 40 percent of Massachusetts voters support an state-financed MBTA bailout is being trumpeted by the survey takers as a strong voice raised in support of legislative solution to the transit agency's problems.

Leaving aside the question of how the message is clear when 34 percent are opposed (a gap much closer to  the 4.2 percent margin of error), the story overlooks the fact a bare majority of 52 percent of respondents with Route 128 support a statewide solution. That's among those who may actually use the services.

Yet the Globe quotes a public policy expert  -- and the pollster -- hailing the results as significant.
“That’s a good sign, because I think that this conversation that’s been unfolding over the last few months has really made [many] more people aware of how important the MBTA is,’’ said Stephanie Pollack, associate director of Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. “Even people who don’t necessarily use it themselves have heard and read a lot about how important it is to other people and to the economy and employers.’’
A few paragraphs later, the Globe offers what pollster Andrew Smith thought would be the majority opinion -- and often is in the comments section here:
“Boston should stand on its own two feet,’’ said Mark Riley, a West Springfield resident questioned in the random survey of landlines and cellphone numbers.
 That is likely to be the sentiment of legislators representing the solid majority of folks outside 128 who, as the survey notes, either outright oppose state action of need some convincing.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to see area polls, inside 128, inside 495 to 128, west of Quabbin, etc. Being west of Worcester myself when I talk to people here most of the responses would be unprintable. "... Boston" whether it be the MBTA or the BigDig, since we use neither. Can you order some polls by geographical area?

April 02, 2012 5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Polling results, especially about complex problems, is not always the best way to make government decisions. Just how big is the PVTA?

April 02, 2012 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Mike the Mad Biologist said...

Do you know how one could find a city-by-city breakdown of how much state revenue is generated and spent in each locality? I always hear people saying things like the quote in the article about standing on your own two feet, but if the U.S. is any indication, some areas are paying more than they're getting back, and vice versa.

It would be nice to have some facts.

April 02, 2012 12:56 PM  
Blogger TyrantII said...

Over at universal hub someone did some preliminary data crunching in the comments section of one post about the MBTA and found Boston getting less spending per capita.

Also, didn't inside 128 residents just spend a ton of money repairing state and town roads irreparably damaged in last springs floods?

Like always, the burbs and rural areas love to talk big of their bootstrappness and freedom, but when it comes down to it their lifestyle choice is heavily subsidized by the economic and population centers.

I don't think that's wrong, but their ill informed view on their own independence is.

Projects and funding that boost the MA economy help them, more in many cases, along with those in Boston.

April 02, 2012 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to see some real numbers and that should be available from a well run state. That info should have been available at all those meetings they had. As far as our ill formed view of our independence I can assure you there is less per capita spending on subways in Charlton than in Boston.

April 03, 2012 4:55 AM  
Blogger TyrantII said...

Thats true!

But you also have I90/84/395. Then there's the town roads and state routes. Metro Worcester has a ton and even has it's own transit system.

All of those are subsidized through your taxes, but more by the taxes inside 495.

Repaving roads costs $100K a 1/4 mile. It's not chump change, and without the built up metro area's we wouldn't have the tax base to make southern and western ma as built up as it is.

It look more like rural NH, than what it is now.

So it's kind of insulting when others in the commonwealth try to pass it off as "not our problem". If that's the case, your roads and infrastructure needs aren't our problem.

That's a bad road to take.

April 03, 2012 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As others have said, where are the real figures? "more by taxes inside 495", how do you know? And the 100K per 1/4 mile, how much comes from the federal money? I'm more than happy to pay my fair share but the infrastructure cost/benefit ratio has always been skewed towards Boston's benefit in the minds of people out in western Mass.

April 03, 2012 12:06 PM  
Blogger UserGoogol said...

Perhaps an MBTA bailout could be combined with throwing some money at the Regional Transit Authorities which provide bus services to not-Boston. The RTAs are more low profile than the MBTA, but Massachusetts towns tend to have pretty walkable cores, so bus improvements could be pretty valuable.

April 04, 2012 2:39 PM  

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