‘Twas the night before …

Taking poetic license with the MBTA

Copy of Let’s stop talking about a piecemeal public policy approach to a problem best addressed by a fully stocked policy toolkit

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

And I jumped out of bed

With visions of runaway trains

In my head.

 

My dreams, once sullied by

Goblins and witches

Now were made scary by

Levers and switches.

 

Jolted awake,

I roamed the dark house,

Disturbing the cat who was

Stalking a mouse.

 

“Sorry,” said I

To my predatory pet,

“That mouse was a morsel

You’ll have to forget.”

 

“Meow,” said the cat

(And I knew what he meant):

He had nothing to show

For all his time spent.

 

I stumbled about

In search of my Mac,

Tripped on a rug and

Threw out my back.

 

And I thought as I lay there

Flat on the floor:

On the topic of transport

Could I possibly say more?

 

I’d been writing and speaking

And offering ways

To improve the T system

And bring better days

 

To commuters and riders

With a simple request:

For transit mobility,

Why not the best?

 

Not everyone shared

This pro-transit view.

Purveyors of old-think

Have a hard time with new.

 

And history repeats itself

Many times over

As voices of retrenchment

Get bolder and bolder.

 

More yappy than beagles

They shouted “for shame!

We won’t raise more revenue

And we won’t take the blame”.

 

“Reform without revenue” –

The slogan sounds pretty

Until you get down to the

Nitty and  gritty.

 

And then you can see

As you look at the facts

That we’ve shortchanged transit

Through a series of acts

 

That over the decades have

Caused this decline

Through lack of investment

Without reason or rhyme.

 

I pulled out my laptop

And sat by the fire,

Asking: how did we get

To this awful quagmire?

 

It will take $7 billion

Just to repair

All that needs fixing

But I didn’t despair –

 

I poured me an eggnog

Laced with some brandy,

The kind of sleep aid

I always keep handy.

 

And the drink did its trick

For in less time than it seemed

I nodded off in my chair

And started to dream . . .

 

T riders were nestled

All snug in their beds

Wiped out from commutes

That gave pain to their heads.

 

Their dreams were of trolleys

And buses and bike lanes

And quality service on

All sorts of new trains –

 

Trains that arrived

Modern and gleaming

And always on time,

both morning and evening.

 

As night became morning

I woke from the dream

With my cat on my lap,

Its paws in my spleen.

 

I woke bright and merry

And thought I would write

On the importance of getting

Our transit future right.

 

As I started to type

My thoughts flowed like honey:

The T needs investment.

The T needs more money.

 

More funding for fixing

Systems old and quite broken.

More funding for maintenance –

Much more than a token.

 

More funding to innovate

So we keep up the pace –

Embracing the future

Means winning the race.

 

Accelerated bridge repair

Was thought a “no-brainer.”

Let’s do that for transit

It couldn’t be plainer.

 

Then I stopped in a start

And thought: “say no more.

You’ve said this already,

You’ve said this before.”

 

So I shut down the Mac:

I had no more to say.

And I tried to relax and

Enjoy Christmas Day.

 

And I hope, dear reader, that

This brought you some cheer.

Best wishes for now,

And a transit-friendly New Year.

 

Meet the Author

With apologies (and thanks) to Clement Clarke Moore and Dr. Seuss. James Aloisi is a former state transportation secretary and a principal at the Pemberton Square Group.