Incorruptible Mass

MBTA -- How can we fix our public transit in an equitable and sustainable way?

October 02, 2023 Anna Callahan Season 5 Episode 26
MBTA -- How can we fix our public transit in an equitable and sustainable way?
Incorruptible Mass
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Incorruptible Mass
MBTA -- How can we fix our public transit in an equitable and sustainable way?
Oct 02, 2023 Season 5 Episode 26
Anna Callahan

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Today we talk about the MBTA, and how it has been under-funded for decades. Public transit can be such a benefit to society and to our future sustainability. We talk about what recent developments are influencing transportation as well as some of the fare-free options in Massachusetts.

Jim Aloisi joins Jordan Berg Powers, Jonathan Cohn, and Anna Callahan to chat about Massachusetts politics. This is the audio version of the Incorruptible Mass podcast, season 5 episode 26. You can watch the video version on our YouTube channel.

You’re listening to Incorruptible Mass. Our goal is to help people transform state politics: we investigate why it’s so broken, imagine what we could have here in MA if we fixed it, and report on how you can get involved.

To stay informed:
* Subscribe to our YouTube channel
* Subscribe to the podcast (
* Sign up to get updates at
* Donate to the show at

Show Notes Transcript

Please donate to the show!

Today we talk about the MBTA, and how it has been under-funded for decades. Public transit can be such a benefit to society and to our future sustainability. We talk about what recent developments are influencing transportation as well as some of the fare-free options in Massachusetts.

Jim Aloisi joins Jordan Berg Powers, Jonathan Cohn, and Anna Callahan to chat about Massachusetts politics. This is the audio version of the Incorruptible Mass podcast, season 5 episode 26. You can watch the video version on our YouTube channel.

You’re listening to Incorruptible Mass. Our goal is to help people transform state politics: we investigate why it’s so broken, imagine what we could have here in MA if we fixed it, and report on how you can get involved.

To stay informed:
* Subscribe to our YouTube channel
* Subscribe to the podcast (
* Sign up to get updates at
* Donate to the show at

Hello everyone and welcome to Incorruptible, Mass. Our mission here is to help all of us together transform state politics in Massachusetts. We know that we could have our state laws reflect the needs of the vast majority of the residents of our beautiful state.

And today we have an amazing conversation about the MBTA and public transit. We have an incredible guest, Jim Aloisi, who is going to be talking about the MBTA and about what the problems are, our decades of underfunding. We are going to talk a little bit also about some fare free options that have happened in some different cities.

We'll talk about what's influencing transportation today as opposed to things that were different decades ago. And we will also talk about equitableness and how our current plans for transportation, for decarbonization, that we maybe should be thinking about those things and how they meet our goals for being equitable as well. 

Now, before we introduce our special guest, we're just going to let our regulars come in and say who they are. So first I will introduce Jonathan Cohn. 

Jonathan Cohn, he, him, his, joining from Boston, which you can also see behind me as I'm walking during this.  I've been an activist on progressive issue and electoral campaigns in Massachusetts for wildly now a decade. 

Fantastic. And Jordan Berg Powers.

Jordan Berg Powers. I use he him. And I am an activist here in Worcester, Massachusetts. And I've been taking public transportation for most of my life. And I used to commute into Boston via the train. And I could tell you endlessly about that process and what happens when we privatized it.

And I am Anna Callahan. She her, coming at you from Medford. We like to joke that after 20 years of not having a car, we bought a 20 year old car. I’ve taken much public transportation, and love talking about how we can fix it.

So now I am excited to introduce Jim Aloisi, who is a Lecturer of Transportation Policy and Planning at MIT. Jim, go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and then about the MBTA. 

About myself? Well, I think many people may know me as a person who writes articles occasionally in Commonwealth magazine.  I'm on the board of transit advocacy group called Transit Matters. And I was the Transportation secretary for Massachusetts some years ago under Governor Patrick. 

These days, I spend a lot of time to point it out at MIT, teaching urban transportation planning and policy and working with transit agencies across the country because many of them are dealing with a lot of shared issues around post pandemic effects and that.

And I'm glad to be here because I'm always looking for places where I can talk to people about public transportation, its importance to our lives, to growing an equitable economy, particularly after the pandemic, to building a better society. I think public transportation can do a lot of those things. 

You think about the history of public transportation. It sort of really started in the 19th century, before the invention of the rail. People walked or they took a horse. There was no such thing as a sort of mass transportation. The only mass transportation there was was a coach where maybe five people were in there that the poor bedraggled horses were pulling. 

If I may, Jonathan is if you're watching the video, jonathan is currently demonstrating the walking that people used to do. Exactly.

But the 19th century, especially mid and then late 19th century, and starting in London, but then happening in Boston and New York, we began to build subway systems, and we began to leverage the technology of that era to provide mass transportation for people. And it was a great innovation. What it really did was it provided people with access.

And people say, well, what's transportation for? And at the end of the day, it's to do just that. It's to give people access, access to opportunity. That could be a job, that could be a classroom, that could be a doctor's office, that could be a friend's house, that could be a theater, that could be anything that improves your quality of life.

But it's access to those opportunities, and particularly in environments like exist in metro Boston, which I take to be the entire MBTA service area. So it includes not just the MBTA, that's the subway and bus system of the inner core, but also the commuter rail network that basically, if you overlay the T service area onto what we call geographically metro Boston, it's almost the same thing. That's about 77% of the state's population.

It's about 77%, roughly, of the state's jobs are all happening in that metro Boston environment. If we care about, and I think we do, the society in which we live if we care about things like clean air, better public health outcomes, if we care about a strong economy that's locally rooted, we care about justice and equity in terms of access to opportunity. If we care about meeting our targets on climate, all those things depend, in my opinion, on what we don't have right now, which is a highly functioning public transportation system.

We don't have that because we've allowed the transportation system to deteriorate over years to a point where it's very difficult for people right now to play catch up. The pandemic certainly worsened conditions, but it didn't cause those conditions. Right.

And I wrote a piece recently in Commonwealth magazine where I tried to give a little bit of a history here when Governor Dukakis left office in January 1991. And I would say Governor Dukakis probably the most transit friendly governor in the history of the Commonwealth. Let's stipulate to that.

When he left office, there was a poll that showed 92% rider satisfaction with the MBTA. 92%? Yes. Really? I would say, because I would say –

I know more than 8% of people who are just natural complainers!

You had a governor who took the green Line almost every day. You had a Secretary of Transportation in Fred Salvucci who really understood the importance of public transportation, and it showed. But then we began a process of tearing the T down, and I tried to go through that history where in the post-Salvucci years we heard the narrative of taming the beast, and the beast was the MDPA.

Taming the beast was another way of saying, we're going to defund the T. And this was not a partisan thing. We had Democrats and the legislature talking about the T as a quote, unquote, budget buster that needed to be brought to heel.

And the way they did that was to tie T funding to the sales tax, which may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but regionally, inequitable, all of the projections for funding were not active, and it's proven to be not a sustainable way to fund MBTA operating. We've heard other narratives even into this century. Fix it first is another narrative you hear, which, frankly, is a proxy for let's not invest anymore.

I'm sorry. This is fix it first before you fund it, right? How do you fix it? 

When I was secretary, I had Democrats on the legislature say, reform before revenue.

Reform before revenue.

And I would say, well, how about a piece say reform with revenue? I could be for that. Yeah. But what these narratives do what these narratives do is they paint for the public a negative portrait, and it becomes self fulfilling.

The negative portrait there's disinvestment. And now we're reaping the whirlwind of those many decades of beating up on the T, of casting it in a negative light, of marginalizing it and underfunding it. We've got a lot to do.

Look, if traffic congestion is about as bad as it's ever been and getting worse, we're still driving mostly internal combustion engines, right? The carbon and particulate matter emissions, particularly in the inner core, are worsening as we speak. The state's decarbonization plan, which I have strong objections to and which hasn't been yet changed in any significant way since the Baker administration left office, the state's plan to decarbonize the transportation sector is basically to put all of our eggs in the basket of moving everyone to an electric vehicle. Now, I don't question for a minute that if you had a choice between driving an EV and an internal combustion engine, you should drive the EV, if for no other reason, that tailpipe carbon emissions go down to zero.

No question about that. So EVs certainly have a place in the decarbonization effort. My objection is when you put all your eggs in that basket and you don't consider mode shift, meaning getting people out of a car and onto transit or onto a bicycle in a safe, protected cycle lane or walking, that's a big mistake, because in places like Chelsea and East Boston, even Everett depends on the percentages.

But each of those communities has a very high percentage of people who can't afford to own a car. That's true for many other places. Ownership of a car for most Americans, is the second highest cost item in their life, the top one always being cost of housing.

Right after that comes ownership of a car. This is not just buying the car. It's also maintaining the vehicle.

Right? And so we're not really thinking about those folks. We're not thinking about the people who've been displaced from Boston or Cambridge because they can't afford to live in Boston. And those folks have moved and they've moved to places like Brockton.

And I mentioned Brockton in particular places along commuter rail lines, but we're not offering frequent enough service on commuter rails to respond to those needs. 

Often, a lot of those folks, they have moved away from their job, right? They no longer can afford to live in the place that their job is. So they are now forced to commute.

And if we don't provide for public transit in those areas, then we really end up with a problem. Traffic is getting worse and all those things because of housing prices going crazy. I want to go ahead and touch on something that you mentioned about how underfunding kind of erodes public trust.

I know I have seen that also a lot in local politics. Like, once the roads get really bad, then nobody trusts the local government. They don't want to give them any more money.

And I think this is true for the MBTA, that people, they don't trust the MBTA to spend the money, and so then they don't want to give the MBTA any more money. And of course, the problem is underfunding. So it's kind of a vicious cycle that you have also incorporated some of the sort of rhetoric coming out of the legislature with really hurting that public trust as well.

And I know I'm, Jonathan, I don't know if you want to jump in here. 

Yeah. And just to quickly, just to build on that, as one comment I was making before the show, is that we see that dynamic also when it comes to ridership, is that if people don't trust that the T will come on time or will come frequently or won't catch on fire, then they won't ride the T. And if they don't ride the T, then ridership numbers go down. And if ridership numbers go down, then legislators and other elected officials can say, well, the ridership is down, so we don't need to give it as much money.

And then they underfund it. And then that creates a worse user experience, and then more people go to other modes of transportation and you create a vicious feedback loop. 

Yeah, it's called a death spiral.  And that's kind of what I'm afraid could happen here. Right. Look, what we know is that ridership plummeted because of the pandemic, and ridership has recovered, but it's only recovered in Boston to around 65-70% on average.

Now we're not unique. That's true in Chicago. That's true in San Francisco? It's true – It's not so much true in New York, but New York is always its own thing. But it's true in most other places. And I think that we also are suppressing ridership in Boston because of the bad quality of service that we're experiencing.

I'm a regular user of the T. I use the red line mostly for my commutes. I missed the train the other day.  And just because I missed the train, my next train was 15 minutes, and the one after that, 20. This is at 09:00 a.m. In the morning on a weekday.  And that's not sustainable. That's the kind of poor transit service that mode shifts people, if they can, to walking or cycling or – driving. Holy moly. taking uber or lyft, right? Yeah. So we need to think differently about it. And we need to think about the importance of transit.

Even if 65, 70% ridership from pre pandemic, that's okay. Each of those individuals needs is getting access. One of the things I just want to say that may seem like a little non sequitur, but I want to get it out to the audience.

We are making a fundamental error in the 21st century by promoting work from home as a technological innovation that privileged people can take advantage of. Why do I say this? If you look back in the mid 20th century, the building of the interstate highway system, that was this massive spatial intervention in America. That allowed for many things, and it certainly allowed for mobility.

But you can look back at the data. What it did allow for also is a significant segregation and separation of people by wealth and by race. Right. And those patterns you still see in America today manifested in political patterns of exurb rural suburb. Right. We are going to use technology today to do the same thing we did with the interstate highway system.

We're going to separate and segregate people by wealth and privilege. And that comes at a cost of social cohesion, in my opinion.  What transit gives you in terms of social cohesion is you see and you're among people who don't look like you. Right? If you work from home and all you see all day is people who look like you when you look at yourself in the mirror, that's bad for social cohesion. So we should be thinking about public transportation, for its ability to give people access to opportunity, for its ability to stimulate and promote healthy social cohesion, for its ability to enable more strong and equitable outcomes when it comes to things like public health. 

And if we think about it that way, we'll realize very quickly public transportation is a public good.

And if it's a public good, maybe we should start treating it and funding it as a public good. 

And on that note, I would love to toss it over to jordan. Jordan, you live somewhere that's been doing some fair free stuff.

I guess I'll say that. The first thing I'll say is I want to go back a little and talk a little bit about why it gets underfunded. Because I think you can understand it without understanding the 90s and sort of the way in which public goods, especially through the 80s, you have the sort of like I like to call it like the Browning or certainly the racial overtones to who's using public transportation, but who's using the public good, and who's taking advantage of it, who's skipping fares, who's jumping over it.

Right. There's sort of a racial undertone that the media was very much a part of hyping up, and then also our politicians took advantage of and so forth. And so by the time you get into the 90s, especially early 90s, into the late 90s, you see, with public education, the same thing happened with public transportation, which is like this idea that we have to fix it before we can fund it.

They're saying that about education. That's how we ended up with our education problems. That's how we ended up with that system. So we can look to our public goods to see the same way that public education has, our public schools are now as segregated as they were across the country as they were pre-Brown versus Board of Education.

We have resegregated our public schools, and what I think we're seeing is that public transportation around the state is one of the most segregated places, especially when you get outside of the MBTA, right? If you ride in Worcester or Springfield, who's still taking it? It’s People who are at the margins of society. Because we've so underfunded these things, we've so taken away the ease of getting around downtown.

Worcester used to have trolleys that took you around. Can you imagine how cool and amazing it would be? You could take trolleys around the city. What an asset that would be. I would like to tear up every piece of – I drive in the city. I live in worcester. I drive a lot. I would like to tear up every piece of asphalt and put in some trolling lines and get around that we look, it's just a waste of our operation. What a bad decision we made in the, I guess the 20s, 30s, 50s. 

I guess the but I think you can't understand those disinvestments without understanding the racial tinging of these things. The way in which it gets thought about who takes it, who rides it, who is it helping? And so when you get to Worcester and you get to some of these other regional transit authorities, some of the reasons that they get so underfunded is because who is it that takes it? Who uses it, who utilizes it? It gets very much quickly into not so subtle. it's just like dog whistles and a lot about what we think of the poor. 

Now, the good thing is that Worcester, during the Pandemic, put aside money to go fare free. And we have fought to keep that. And guess what? Ridership has gone up and they've been able to actually add again some more routes. It's still not where it used to be even ten years ago, 20 years ago, how many different places you could get around the city in our bus system. But we have seen those things.

And so I think it's really important that there are some great things happening and we could be doing and we could and should be doing more. But I also think we really need to understand some of the context to the underfunding. And I think I would love, Jim, for you to weigh in about just like, we're not talking about pennies, we're talking about a massive underfunding.

And on top of that, the servicing of the Big Dig debt. Big Dig had nothing to do with public transportation. Plopping that onto the MBTA, that it has to service the interest on those things. So it's making payments for car based travel with your MBTA dollars. Right. Like, all of those things are disinvestments from the public good, from the public square, from public transportation.

And that's a massive, massive takeaway. I'll just take one more and I'll let you go, Jeff. It's like, I used to take the commuter rail. The commuter rail was privatized, which is a nice way of saying that all of the staff that used to get paid by the state started to get paid by a private entity. And I talked to the conductors. They lost half their pay in most cases. So half the money for being a conductor went to a corporation out of the pockets of people who lived here, who were conductors. And the service hasn't gotten better. It's actually gotten worse.

I remind people that when people complain about the MBTA sort of delays and services, that when it snowed, and the MBTA went slowly or barely during the day, the commuter rail stopped. Our private corporation said, I don't even care, it's snowing.

I'm not going to ride. You could not get to Boston on the commuter rail when it snows in. Just it was a massive snow.

Right? Like, it shut down a lot. But those systems are completely out of our control. They're completely unaccountable. And money gets siphoned out. So we've seen rising costs for the communal rail. We've seen lower pay, which means lower money in our state.

So money left our state to go to corporations outside of a country, and we've gotten poorer service. That's what happened with privatization. So they do these things to say to save money, but actually they're not saving money, they're not saving service. And it creates more and more of that debt spiral. Sorry. 

Merrimack Valley, our regional Transit authority, is also having free bus transit. And I think there's a lesson to be learned from what Worcester has done and what Merrimack Valley is doing. I also think in Boston, as you know, the mayor pushed really hard to get a pilot for three bus routes. That pilot ends in March, and it'll be interesting to see now especially, that the mayor has a board appointment on the T board. It's only one out of nine, but still, it's a voice. It'll be interesting to see where we go. Are we going to keep that? Are we going to expand it? Which I hope we do.

What are we going to do, and how is that going to work? I think that just, you mentioned Big Dig debt. It's worse than you think. Just this year, just this year, the state for three months shut down the Sumner Tunnel because it had to do repair.

And to its credit, the state insisted on a variety of transit improvements as mitigation for that, including free Blue Line, including free buses from Chelsea. And that revere and Mass DOT. That's basically it's a Mass DOT project.

It's a tunnel and highway project. Did not agree with the T in terms of who was going to pay for it. They said to the T, this is going to be your cost. Right. So all of the mitigation associated with the tunnel and bridge wow. Right.

So that cost gets picked up by who? T riders. Wow. An organization that's underfunded and under resourced. Right. But we allow the highway side of the coin to dictate that, oh, we're doing all this wonderful mitigation because of a highway and tunnel project. And by the way, T riders will pay for that mitigation.

It's outrageous. It's outrageous. So I say that only to say that the bad thinking that said that T riders should pay for Big Dig debt hasn't stopped. It just finds its way in in different ways. Right. And so what do you do about that? These are challenges that need to be met.

Yeah. I mean, this is a standard Republican talking point, right. That the government doesn't work well, so we got to stop funding it.

It's really dis–

My answer to Republicans who think that the government doesn't work well is that they should then stop running for office unless they want to make it work. 

Yeah, I agree with you. Let me go ahead and see if just in the next, like, five or ten minutes, we can quickly cover a couple of things.

Jim, you had an amazing set of different elements that are sort of modern elements that are affecting transportation today. Would you go into those? 

Yeah, I just want to mention so I've been giving this a lot of thought, and I think if you look at what's happening, this is across the country, not just local. Right.

There are three major sort of societal influencers, if you will. When I'm teaching this, I usually put up on the screen a picture of Taylor Swift and Harry Styles, and I say, now, what do these people have in common? And it's like they're influencers, right? So transportation also has influencers. They're not as famous, or maybe they are, but one of those influencers is influencers is clearly what I would call pandemic effects, right? Those effects are being manifested in lower ridership.

Still hasn't fully come back. A lot of that has to do with people working from home. Some of that has to do with people still afraid to take if you survey people, there are still people that they're afraid that they'll catch COVID by taking transit.

Right. There's no data that's ever proven that it's any worse to take transit as it is to go into Market Basket or Whole Foods or Stop and Shop. But people have those perceptions because we rely on fare revenue for a third of the T's operating budget.

That's a fact that everyone should recognize. We rely on fare revenue for a third of the budget. Well, when your ridership is down to 20, 30%, that's a big hole.

The MBTA next year or within the next 18 months is going to hit a fiscal cliff because the federal government COVID relief money that's prevented them from basically going into the red is over and it's not coming back. And as long as that ridership gap remains, that's a significant funding gap. The legislature needs to fill the gap and they need to fill it before there's a crisis.

Right? The T can't do anything about that gap except two things that it should never, ever do. One is cut back service. The other is raise fares.

Right? If you do either or both of those things, all you're doing is doubling down on the doom spiral – and the inequity – and inequity. So the legislature needs to step up on this and the governor also needs to do something about this approaching gap. And it's approaching and it's real and it's happening.

So there are all these pandemic effects. Pandemic effects have also reduced the workforce, right? A lot of people retired, a lot of people left. And so you have a significant shortage of bus drivers.

You have a significant shortage of dispatchers. This is true across the board. I know just in the general economy there's this issue, but it's particularly worse at the T and that's part of what needs to be regenerated.

Now, to its credit, the T has moved to improve the salary for entry level bus drivers. They've also removed a pretty ridiculous provision in the contract that said that a new hire could only work part time for the first few years. So I think things are going to get better there, but they're getting better slowly.

So there's technology effects, there's decarbonization. I think we talked about that a little bit. I am concerned that we're not thinking enough about the role that a high functioning transit system can play in not just reducing carbon emissions, but reducing particulate matter emissions.

And I like to remind people that one of the consequences of moving to electric vehicle world is that comparable electric vehicle to internal combustion engine? The EV is heavier. It just weighs more because the battery is heavier.

When you have a heavier vehicle, the tire is putting more pressure on the roadway. That means the roadway will deteriorate faster. It also means more particulate matter emissions coming off the road.

These are these fine granular emissions that come from the pavement. There are studies that Harvard has done in the past few years that show that in communities, and these are usually communities that are within the inner core, like Chelsea or East Boston, communities that have high long term exposure to particulate matter emissions. Populations there were having 15% higher COVID mortality rates because of the public health issues relating to their lung function.

Right. So EVs are not changing that. They're making that worse, actually. And we need to address that with a high functioning transit system. Right. We also one last thing. We need to think about the streetscape. And to Jordan's point earlier, we need to think about the streetscape as a finite public asset. Those of us who pay taxes, whether we bike, whether we walk, whether we drive, whether we take transit, we're all paying for the street. And the street is finite.

It doesn't get bigger, not normally. We need to think about how we share that fairly. There's no law that says this is publicly funded, finite space and it must only be used for automobiles.

There's no law that says that we just do that. Right. Well, I'm thinking we live in a time where we should say no. We need to share it fairly. So we need to build more protected, safe cycling lanes. We need to build dedicated bus lanes, and not just in Boston, but in Worcester and in Lawrence and in Haveril and places that elevate the experience of the bus traveler.

Right? If you do that, I think you would make the bus more egalitarian. You'd see more people using it. Right.

And you would do a heck of a better job sort of promoting 21st century sustainability goals than we are now in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I know that this is a big issue for the governor. It's the first year of this administration.

They inherited a bad hand. I don't for a minute say that we can lay this at their feet, but life is unfair and they've inherited a bad hand. What I say as a member of Transit Matters is those of us who are advocates need to say, we've got your back when you have to do the tough thing, and the same for the legislature.

We know you may have to take a tough vote or two. We know you may have to do a few things that you're even outside your comfort zone, but we'll have your back on that because we know that building a better, more equitable, stronger society depends in part on a high functioning public transportation network for the entirety of metro Boston and we're there to help you do that. 

We only have a couple of minutes left. I do want us to jump into kind of dreaming bigger. 

Before we do that, I just want to talk a little bit about we talked offline, and I want to make sure it gets into the conversation about sort of the inequitable way in which we're thinking about decarbonization and just highlight again that I think you mentioned at the beginning, but who has access to cars? Who has access to the ability to have an EV? Those often reflect the ways in which our society is currently unequitably wealth, is unequitably distributed and reflects some of the institutional inequities. And so if we are going to a system where everybody has to have a car and has to have an EV car to get around, that system definitionally leaves behind a lot of folks.

I think what you were saying about this sort of public square and making sure we're getting people back into it together across economic lines, that happens in public transit only if we sort of prioritize it over building more, like making it easier for people to drive around. And what we know from studies is there's no way – you'll never build enough lanes unless we pave everything.

We'll have only parking garages and pavement. If we try to pave like there's more people, we are making more people. We can't pave our way to solving this problem. You can't have more people and less traffic. That's just not going to happen. And so we need a way that makes sense, that just makes sense for how to move forward. And that has to be a transit system that's able to house everybody, bring everybody in and one that's funded across the thing. 

And so I'll say that because we only have five minutes to go into the Dream Bigger. To say one of the things that I always say, and we've said on this podcast before is I hate this. I've said that legislators have said to me, well, the T has to balance a budget. And I always say that's the dumbest thing I've heard. The T should lose loads of money. 

We should subsidize it like we subsidize public education. We don't ask children to work while they're at school to pay for their education. We should lose money on it and we should lose a ton of money on it.

Taxpayer money should go to making sure that people can get around the state and not just the way it currently is. It goes into Boston and out of Boston. Like, I, as a Worcester resident, would love to be able to take public transportation directly to Lawrence, directly to Falmouth.

Right? It should be easy to take public transportation around the state rather than what I would take to go now, which is I would go into Boston and then out of Boston. And it is easier for me to go from Worcester to Providence out of state than it is for me to go from Worcester to Lawrence on public transportation. And so when I think about what's possible, I think we need to address immediately there's a lot of things that are going wrong that we absolutely need to invest tomorrow to fix.

And I would like us, and I would like our politicians to dream bigger about a system that gets us around the state and not just in and out of Boston. 

Well, it's hard to quarrel with anything you've said. I just would point out we subsidize driving, much more that we subsidize public transportation.

Such a great point.

And the gas tax that we pay doesn't begin to pay for all our highway, road and bridge needs. People get free parking. There's so many ways that we subsidize driving and we need to recognize that the problem is it's not in the public imagination. They don't get it. 

Charging equity EV equity, EV subsidy. Know, you've got people in places like where I grew up in East Boston and triple deckers, they park on the street, they don't have garages, they don't know places to park.

And so chances are they're not going to have an EV. It's not going to be easy for them to have an EV. There are people who can't afford a car, period.

And so where's their subsidy? Where's their EV subsidy? There are people in East Boston who can't have an EV who are paying an electric bill that has a number in it that's subsidizing someone's electric charger in Wellesley. And that's happening today in Massachusetts. 

So I think that again, I'm usually generally aligned with climate activists in terms of how they think about decarbonization. But there's not enough conversation about what I believe are the deep inequities, particularly on the transportation side that just need to be candidly addressed.

And if candidly addressed then responded to. So that we're building a fairer, more just society. We're not doing it.

And I feel like the movement toward better transit and better rail is in part at least a movement to awaken people to the fundamental inequities that exist. Even when we're well intentioned about doing things like cleaning up carbon. Right, we should be cleaning up carbon but we should be doing it right and I’m not quite sure we're there yet.

And so yeah, I'm hopeful that this message will come across. And look, I'll end on a note. What I found in Transit Matters is that if you push and you have the facts behind you that you can make a difference, right? And so I think we have and we'll hopefully continue to make a difference.

There's a lot going on and there are a lot of things that need to get fixed and we can't pretend that they're going to get fixed overnight. But what we can do is try to get people thinking differently about these topics and hopefully put some pressure on folks in Beacon Hill to also think differently about it. 

Absolutely. Imagine if we spent ten years and decided we were going to make the MBTA amazing in the way that a lot of transportation systems are in European countries, where they really have done in many places, a very good job, and you can get around wherever you need to by public transportation. And if we did ten years of that. It would be a truly beautiful place.

Let's make this our next decade moment. Like, this is our version of building the Quabbin Reservoir. This is our version of cleaning Boston Harbor.

Right. We can take the public transportation system and make it work for everybody. And in doing that, we will improve everybody's quality of life, because a high functioning transit and rail system helps the person who still wants to drive, because the roads will be less congested, right.

And the air will be cleaner, and so everybody benefits from a high functioning transit and rail system. 

Wonderful. Thank you so much Jim Aloisi, wonderful to have you. Thanks so much to everyone listening. We look forward to chatting with you all next week.