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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Does the MBTA have its priorities straight?

Students+hustling+to+shuttle+buses+at+the+JFK%2FUMass+station
Students hustling to shuttle buses at the JFK/UMass station

Over the past few years, the MBTA — more specifically the Green Line — has been involved in a slew of accidents which have more often than not resulted in injuries to pedestrians and passengers alike. The Federal Transit Administration asserts that the Green Line had a significantly higher rate of collisions and injuries from 2008 to 2011 than the MBTA’s other three lines.

In 2012 alone, 37 people were hospitalized as a result of another MBTA crash in Boylston, also on the Green Line. Even more recently, on Monday, March 10, the MBTA was involved in yet another dangerous crash. This time, ten individuals were sent to the hospital as a result of the public transportation vehicle’s derailment.

The MBTA is in obvious need of improvement in many areas. Riders have numerous complaints ranging from its hours to its schedule and reliability. With the announcement that the MBTA will run later on weekends starting March 28, it’s evident that Mayor Walsh, along with the MBTA, seem to have given riders’ calls for longer, later hours priority.

Despite the fact that in recent times the MBTA has achieved improved levels of reliability and safety, the core infrastructure and systems are undoubtedly ancient, aging, and outdated — infrastructure which requires high levels of maintenance, as well as replacement. Yet, like the MBTA review of 2009 revealed, the costs of these much-needed maintenance procedures of the system far exceeds the MBTA’s capital improvement budget. “As a result, many projects that would address critical safety or system reliability issues are not funded each year.”

According to the same report, as of 2009, there were $543 million in safety-critical projects that were not being funded — a number that has not changed significantly in the time since.

Even without these numbers, one only needs to take a ride on the Green or Orange Line to determine first-hand the state of our much-loved transportation system. Delays are all too frequent. Buses are filthy. Feeling frustrated is an everyday occurrence for the average Green Line commuter. Personally, I’ve been late for appointments of different sorts more times than I can count solely due to the MBTA’s inadequacies.

So, the pertinent question here is this: was extending the MBTA’s weekend hours the best use of resources, especially when evidence abounds that that investment is sorely needed in other facets of the system?

I, like most young Bostonians, love the odd night out, but I definitely love my safety more. If the proper care isn’t shown soon enough on our train systems’ infrastructure, I may well end up being involved in one of those accidents. It could be me. It could be you.

The MBTA and Massachusetts in general needs to straighten out its priorities.