According to the Boston Globe
, an internal transit authority budget document predicted that the “MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) would halt all evening and weekend commuter rail service, eliminate six Green Line stops, discontinue lightly used bus routes, and lay off 805 employees if the agency does not get legislative help with its $160 million deficit.” On March 26, against this backdrop, E2 members Chris Kaneb, Tedd Saunders, Jonathan Meltzer and Berl Hartman met with Senator Anthony Petruccelli, Chair of the Massachusetts Senate Environment Committee, and Maggie Atanasov, Legislative Assistant to Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.
Our message was clear: Good public transit is essential to the economic health of the Commonwealth and the fairest, most equitable way to close the funding gap is via a substantial increase in the gas tax.
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Chris Kaneb, a commercial real estate developer, emphasized that public transit is key to the state’s economic survival. Berl Hartman discussed the huge debt facing the state and showed the graph at left (“Transportation Finance in Massachusetts: An Unsustainable System”; findings of the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission; March 28, 2007) demonstrating that Massachusetts faces by far the largest transit debt of any state. Jonathan Meltzer pointed to the increase in the value of business property based on availability of public transit, citing the 34 percent increase in the value of Somerville’s Davis Square business property compared to rest of Somerville since the MBTA Red Line extended its service there. Tedd Saunders emphasized the importance of good transit options for the leisure and hotel business.
Senator Petruccelli encouraged E2 to continue the dialogue and reach out to other members of the House and Senate.
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