Received this notice from the Massachusetts Department of Transporation:
In February, MassDOT announced the availability of an online questionnaire – looking for information about your transportation experiences and needs. This information is being used to develop a system for prioritizing transportation investments in the Commonwealth. The survey is still available on the youMove Massachusetts website. Click here to take the survey.
The questionnaire will close on April 20, 2012 so we encourage you to complete it now, if you have not already done so. Please also share this information with your colleagues and stakeholders you represent.
I tried the survey and it takes about five minutes to complete.
NO! We should not respond to this ploy for justifying reduction in services, pitting one set of riders against another. We shouldn’t “prioritize” what we save. We should save it all and EXPAND our service! Transit is the lifeblood of the region. The current policy is a death-spiral, and we want our elected officials to fight for us, not lead us like sheep into the slaughter year after year.
Will, I asked you about the superheroes’ Fast Five recommendations for funding the T this year, and you said they had been “debunked.” Please explain how they were debunked.
You also replied that it’s not so easy to remove the debt dumped on the MBTA, because the state has to find money for it, and no one wants to raise taxes. So you are condoning a fare hike and a service cut — quietly raising taxes on the 99%. Yes, that’s why authorities were created, to let politicians fleece the public without taking responsibility. Riders are taxpayers, and so are the drivers who will be caught in strangling traffic if more riders start driving. A fare increase is a direct tax. A service cut is an indirect tax; it will cost us in other ways.
It’s not true that “we’re broke.” Why can’t we come up with that money to cover the debt by eliminating those massive corporate subsidies I keep asking you about? Fidelity alone gets $150 million a year. I could name you a bunch more, and I don’t even know all of them. I’m absolutely sure that these give-aways would more than cover the debt service. Yet you have repeatedly insisted that they cannot be discussed in the same conversation. Obviously, if we don’t, we can’t come up with money — because the answer is always “well, we don’t want to be cutting other programs that we care about.” That’s what you write me. You ARE cutting programs we care about: TRANSIT. The impacts will be enormous.
No politician wants to raise taxes. No politician wants to cut corporate welfare, huge cuts that would hurt no one. You take the easy way out by averting your eyes from this huge hemorrhage of public money, and then, gosh, there’s no answer.
What’s the answer?
Here is the question: Will you fight for us and get back our money from big corporations that have corrupted our government, OR NOT?
Thanks for speaking out.
I’d like to simply agree with you, because I do understand your frustration, but the truth is that we can’t either wish away or shout away the financial constraints that the Commonwealth works under. Those financial constraints are both economic and political. In any foreseeable future, it is responsible and necessary for MassDOT to ask about priorities.
Regarding the fast five recommendations, Legislators did raise these suggestions of resources in a meeting with the management of the MBTA in March and management respectfully explained that they were not workable. Massport has only a modest surplus and cannot provide $50 million per year to the MBTA. Additionally, federal law limits the extent to which airport revenues can be used to cross-subsidize other transit modes. The snow removal account has under $10 million left in it — the normal pattern is to underfund the account and top it off as the winter goes on; even a light winter is sufficient to substantially deplete it. Renegotiation of swaps is not a feasible option either — the few swaps that the T has are functioning as intended. It also seems unrealistic to imagine the commuter rail, which is a relatively small part of the budget, yielding $49 million in givebacks.
I do agree with you that there are loopholes to close. I stand strongly for a simplification of our tax system that eliminates the many tax breaks that don’t actually help to create jobs.
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