- Apr 28, 2020
- Reaction score
Not entirely disagreeing with you, though there's a bit of a conspiratorial tone (for lack of a better description) that makes it seem like there's something actually deliberately nefarious behind underinvestment in rail infrastructure. While I'm quite sure that the auto industry and related entities' lobbying is a good part of why things can get bogged down and why there's a lack of funding, I would push back somewhat on the idea that it's necessarily Big Highway that overinflates the cost estimates of rail projects. With respect to the NSRL and a number of other projects around MA lately, the absurd numbers have come directly from the state, and it's fairly obvious where they've come from (e.g. picking a suboptimal NSRL route on Congress Street with an 'optional' second tunnel to get to the proper capacity under the Artery, doubling the costs; see also their rather blatant sandbagging on East-West Rail and Red-Blue). There's no meaningful evidence to suggest that any of that is anything more than Baker and company hating taxes and spending and not caring about the value in these rail projects.I approve of this proposal. Because it makes the most sense, has great opportunities for growth, and it'll likely take a few dozen cars out of my town. That said, it may fail to get traction despite all logic.
I have always been of the opinion that there is a general bias against public transportation, mostly because of the perception or reality of cash-fights with auto-centric interests for a limited budget slice. The unfortunate hacks and wonks approving new public transportation routes get their ears knuckle-punched by Pioneer Institute goblins and their short-sighted budget cutting ilk. They also take flak from every construction company with a pending onramp or bridge contract. Oh, and the general gearhead zealots who see no other religion other than the Cult of The Piston.
This nation and this region does not have rail-centric industry nearly as formidable as the Auto Industrial Complex and its many tentacles. I would hypothesize that those same Auto Erotocists use their weight and influence to make rail construction estimates much higher than they really are. I'd offer Arup's pegging NSRL estimates at $20B as an example -- discounting many other independent studies that brought it in much cheaper. That $20B whopper gave the Baker Admin all the cover it needed to say no.
Building rails has been hard since the passenger rail industry was hunted to near extinction. We need to carve out a new preserve so rail creatures can flourish. Needham has room... so there's that.
The basic point is that while I agree that transit is not prioritized, I think it has more to do with general public preference (especially outside urban centers) for cars combined with public and institutional distaste for spending (particularly on things "they" won't use, or won't use as much) rather than necessarily resulting from malign influence from road interests (though their lobbying certainly plays a role).