Listening to the Globe's transportation reporter talk to WBUR's morning podcast yesterday (link
) made me wonder: At what point do different heavy rail expansions become much closer to "reasonable" pitch territory due to the ways they can free up bus resources?
Obviously, it's not enough to alleviate the crisis any time soon, and the worst of the crisis will likely be mitigated if the Carmen's Union and the T can get off their duffs and work out a new contract that doesn't have stupidly low starting salaries. But we also live in a world where the American population is going to start stagnating or even shrinking if we don't reform and open up our immigration system
-- a trend that the general migration towards the Sun Belt makes worse up here in Massachusetts. That's all to say, it smells like there's an argument to be made that rail expansion is also a strategic imperative for the T if it wants to preserve existing service, and a strategic imperative for the commonwealth if we want to use mode shift to take a bite out of our carbon emissions -- especially when it comes to maximizing the impact of regional rail.
Assuming you accept my framing, what do you think would give the best bang for the buck? BLX to Lynn comes to mind as the most low-hanging of the fruit out there, but are there other projects that might work? The Mattapan/Roxbury bus network's orientation towards Ruggles and employment patterns towards Longwood make me think the other "easy" thing (high-frequency Fairmount Line service) might not be so impactful absent "hard" projects like a rail-based Urban Ring.