The Arborway rail-restoration project’s opponents may toss about unbuildable poison-pill designs, but contrary to what Deirdre Fulton states (“T-easing Pollution,” January 6), the record shows that at no time was removing parking on one side of Centre Street ever officially presented or considered, nor is it necessary to complete the project successfully. Furthermore, city officials have been pressed for years for specifics on emergency operating procedures used successfully for decades in Philadelphia — which runs light rail in streets nearly identical in geometry to Centre Street. If city and MBTA officials put half the creativity they have devoted to stalling the project into actually building it, it would be a model of effective urban transit instead of the “can’t-do” legacy we are left with today.
Arborway Rail Restoration Project Advisory Committee
The real mass-transit problem is the Boston-centric pattern of routes. It is a hub-and-spoke system with radial lines in and out of Boston. While this was a good planning paradigm more than a century ago, it does not fit modern patterns of commuting today. I can’t help but notice that all the suggestions loop back on themselves (e.g., re-connect Green and Orange Lines at Arborway, Blue and Red at MGH, etc., and the various service-plan suggestions). All of them tend to get rejected for whatever reasons that can be conjured up. Isn’t it time to think big? Bigger than Boston? A Route 128 light-rail circumferential line connecting the spokes of transit lines does not look all that outlandish. Not as far-fetched as $3.50-a-gallon gas looked 10 years ago, or Dever’s folly (Route 128) over 60 years ago? This is what we may have to do if we decide we want to continue to have public transportation.
In “T-easing Pollution” you provide an interesting and clear account of many of the pros and cons of the various MBTA projects meant to counter air pollution resulting from the Big Dig. However, you quote David Luberoff claiming that the state could reach the same air-pollution goals as all three transit projects for $5 million (less than one percent) of the cost by replacing 200 of the most polluting cars in the state with Toyota Priuses. For starters, the numbers were off: Luberoff's May 23, 2005, Op-Ed in the Globe suggests replacing 500 of the most polluting cars in the state, at a cost of $10 million, in order to achieve the same air-quality benefits as 14,000 people abandoning their cars for the new Green Line. Which Green Line extension is not quite clear, but you note elsewhere that the removal of the Arborway Corridor alone resulted in a ridership loss of 14,000. Secondly, Luberoff's claim appears based only on reductions in volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, not all automobile pollution. Thirdly, much of automobile pollution is local — replacing old cars throughout Massachusetts will not address the pollution problems in Somerville and Boston neighborhoods bearing the brunt of emissions along I-93 directly. Finally, I cannot think of many better incentives to operate highly polluting cars than the prospect of getting a free Toyota funded by state tax dollars. The suggestion that state replacement of old cars with Priuses is even a possibility — as part of emissions-reduction policy — is absurd.
As a former JP resident, it was interesting to read about the decline in ridership on the #39 bus. Your article suggests more people are using their cars rather than ride the bus. I had a different solution — I moved to Brookline.