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We have power to change transit system – will we?

This letter to the editor by Adam Auster of Arlington was first published in The Boston Globe in June, and it has been republished here with the author's permission.


When it comes to driving, people do what the infrastructure tells them to do. That’s not wrong — even for the state’s transportation secretary, Monica Tibbits-Nutt (”If even the secretary of transportation won’t take the train, who will?,” online, June 18).

What is wrong is the collection of policy choices that create and maintain a climate-warming infrastructure. This has created suburban sprawl, a broken MBTA and a world where you have to have a car. Our moral challenge is not to make an extra effort to walk or bike or take the bus or train (kudos to those who do). The critical place for the choices we all can and should exercise is in the civic realm.

That means supporting bus and bike lanes, funding for frequent and reliable trains, and a restored and, ultimately, expanded T. It means zoning for dense town centers within walking distance to businesses. It also means the moral courage to pay for these changes through gas and motor-vehicle taxes and congestion fees. If gasoline costs 10-percent more, but you are driving 50-percent less, you have come out ahead. We will be rewarded for embracing change with a better quality of life.

As drivers, our choices are limited to how to navigate our broken transportation system, for instance, with an electric car. But as citizens, we have the power to shape what that system is. Will we do so? That, not choosing to ride a bike or a broken rail network, is the real ethical choice. 

This letter was published Friday, July 5, 2024.

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Tuesday, 23 July 2024

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