By Mary Kate Feeney
Imagine taking a high-speed monorail to Logan Airport, riding an efficient train to your job in Cambridge, or using an app to outline the easiest route to your destination with data from all modes of transportation, including subway, rail, bike and car share.
A public transportation network focused on moving people in the most affordable, frequent, reliable and sustainable means possible.
On a recent commute into Boston on a crowded, delayed train, I found myself dreaming of these possibilities as I watched cars backup on the Pike through Newton. It was just another day on the commuter rail.
Traffic occupies the conversation on the train, at work and with friends, yet our government keeps spinning its wheels. No creative solutions. Instead fare increases for the status quo.
Maybe if our government leaders took the commuter rail or drove at rush-hour everyday, then we would get results.
Enough is enough.
While the decade-long project to straighten the MassPike through Allston will bring much needed improvements, it will also provide endless headaches for MetroWest commuters. Before putting a shovel in the ground, we need to put more people on trains and buses, and into ride shares.
Add more trains. Expand service by the MetroWest Regional Transportation Authority. Build a high-speed monorail along the Pike right-of-way. Connect commuters to ride or bike shares, like Framingham’s soon-to-be launched bike program. This is the future we need to embrace.
For example, around the country, mobility service applications are being developed, collecting real time transit data, joining trip planning and ticketing together in a single application for commuters to get to where they need to go quickly and efficiently. We too need to explore the future of such intermodal activity.
And while the T needs more revenue, a 6.5% fare increase — a $20 per month increase for Framingham commuters — with no increase in future investment in trains, their frequency or reliability just makes the daily frustration more aggravating.
If T fares increase, so should other commuter taxes (tolls, gas, carbon). All modes of transportation have an affect on each other, and should be treated the same.
A reliable transportation system is much more than just a quality of life issue. It drives our economy which generates the taxes and personal income to pay for our schools and homes, police officers and food for our families. It impacts our property values and access to public safety. Transportation connects us every day in every way.
But the only way we can expect any action is to call on our local elected officials to use their seat at the table, their voices to advocate on our behalf.
The 22 member MBTA Rail Vision Advisory Committee does not include a single representative from Framingham.
The task force held five public hearings last year, and not one of our elected officials offered testimony. Expansion proposals for our line increases trains to Newton, and ends there. Newton already is part of the T bus service and the Green Line.
We can keep talking and wishing for changes. Until our elected officials decide to get off the merry-go-round of indecision on transportation, we’ll remain stuck in traffic.
We owe it to ourselves and future generations to have a transportation system our Commonwealth deserves.
Mary Kate Feeney, a lifelong resident of Pheasant Hill in Framingham, is a former aide to Governor Deval L. Patrick