By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Baker’s had seven years to fix the T. It’s worse than ever.

Photo (cc) 2022 by Dan Kennedy

A Twitter thread on the decline and fall of the MBTA under Gov. Charlie Baker:

More than seven years ago, after Snowmaggedon brought the #MBTA to its knees, Gov. Baker was given unprecedented authority to fix it. We now know he didn’t use that opportunity wisely or well. (1/x)

If there was an assessment made of what work needed to be done, it was obviously inadequate. We’ve seen one issue after another come up during the past year, and especially the past few months. (2/x)

With proper planning, much of the work could have been done during the pandemic shutdown. Instead, we’re now dealing with Orange and Green Line closures just as employers are trying to entice their workers into returning to the office. (3/x)

It’s not all Baker’s fault. The last governor to take issues involving the T seriously was Michael Dukakis. There’s no political gain in fixing the T because the benefits are invisible. (4/x)

Baker does deserve credit for saving the GLX after Deval Patrick nearly gold-plated it into oblivion. Overall, though, Baker failed, and his term is ending with the T in a state of collapse. (5/x)

Notably silent: Maura Healey, who’s as sure a bet to be elected governor as you get in politics. This is not a time for caution. What is her vision for the T? If she remains silent, then she won’t have a mandate to carry it out. (6/x)

Like many, I depend on the MBTA to get to work and elsewhere. I use commuter rail, subways and buses. I really have no good alternatives, so I’m being patient. What choice do I have? But all of this is incredibly dispiriting. (7/7)

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  1. Ilex

    I want a governor who uses the T. IMO, part of the problem with Charlie Baker’s “ownership” of the MBTA issues is his well-known utter disdain for public transportation. Shirley Leung of the Globe was able to coax him onto a single ride on the Red Line back in 2017 when it fell apart, but his discomfort and conviction that the T is for other people was obvious. That attitude makes it easy to keep neglecting the T, no matter what the official words are about it.

    As another person who is entirely reliant on the T and my feet to get everywhere, I second you that Maura Healey needs to start talking about public transportation, and using it. The economy depends on it.

  2. Ilex begs the question. It would be great if Gov Maura Healey took the T to work, but how does one get to the State House from Charlestown by public transportation? Busses, but no subway. If I had to make a choice, I’d choose the half-hour walk.

    • Dan Kennedy

      The way things are going, I may have to choose the two-and-a-half-hour walk.

    • lex

      When I lived in Charlestown, I used North Station and Community College, and walked a lot. Sullivan Square is also an option. Even if the governor doesn’t regularly use the T, more members of government at all levels need to use public transportation to maintain political interest and investment in it.

  3. Terence Burke

    I think the Boston Globe should put Spotlight team on the history of the T and document that every time the right or good decision could have been made, it wasn’t. No one, NO ONE with any decision power over the T in the last several decades should be exempt from scrutiny in this piece. Just sayin’

    • I think you have to include the legislature as well, and document the funds (or lack of them) that have been dedicated to “fixing” the T.

      • Dan Kennedy

        Steve, the executive proposes and the legislature disposes. Has the legislature ever rejected or reduced a single spending request Baker’s made for fixing the T? I’m almost certain that the answer to that is “no.”

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