SOURCE asked all three a series of questions last week. One of the questions focused on public transportation. Each candidate was allowed up to 500 words to discuss the issue.
QUESTION: Public Transportation is not meeting the needs of low income and even middle class Massachusetts residents. The commuter rail is running less frequently post-pandemic than pre-pandemic. What does the legislature need to do to improve this situation? And what will you advocate for when it comes to the MWRTA?
SEN: Pass laws which will enable ride free public transportation statewide (not just Boston) – pay from Fair Share Amendment. As for MWRTA, make it free funded by Fair Share Amendment and also seek funding from H5060.
SHEPARD: First, I support the Fair Share Amendment that provides the needed funds to improve our transportation system and potentially make the access free for residents. I also support H.2978, filed by Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis, to authorize regions, via ballot initiatives, to access certain taxes for financing regional transportation needs and investments.
SOUSA: Our public transportation system is a mess. The quality of life in our city and state is suffering due to a transportation infrastructure experiencing overload and deterioration costing taxpayers millions. Not a day has gone by recently of a news story about the latest fire, accident or crisis on the MBTA.
When I was a student at Simmons, some days I was late for class because I didn’t have the money for the T or the T was delayed. This is a reality for so many in Framingham and around the state.
As our full-time state representative, I will work to address several challenges that face us and
the Commonwealth regarding transportation:
• Advocate for increased funding for the MBTA to make the improvements on the deteriorating transportation system, purchase new cars and trains, electrify the train lines between Boston and Worcester, keep fares affordable and increase reliable all day rail service to and from Boston;
• Contact the Executive Office of Administration and Finance to release previously earmarked funding for the construction of a downtown parking garage;
• Support the growth of regional transportation authorities, especially our MetroWest Regional Transportation Authority, and address demands for increased service and expanding their routes to connect them to more neighborhoods, rail trails and centers of commerce;
• Advocate for Framingham and MetroWest regarding the upcoming Allston Mass Pike Multimodal Project. This project will impact Framingham for nearly a decade as work is done on the Mass Pike through Allston-Brighton. I will request to serve on the Allston Multimodal Task Force, a seat formerly held by Maria Robinson, to ensure our voice is heard, especially regarding mitigation plans during construction.
• Work with MassDOT to address safety concerns and problems with local state roads, such as installing much needed crosswalks on Route 135, pedestrian walkways or bridges over Route 9, especially at Prospect Street and Shopper’s World;
• Expanding rail trails, such as the Upper Charles Trail and the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, by securing the funding needed to design and construct these alternative modes of transportation.
The issues with the T existed before the pandemic, and have only become worse. There is no excuse for not having a world class system for our residents to go to school, work, shopping or visit family and friends. We deserve a system that strengthens our economy and communities, while also being modern, safe, affordable and reliable. What we have now is not sustainable, and certainly not good for our environment. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to have a transportation system that our