Episode 99: Bus renaissance underway?

Buses aren’t as sexy as new Orange Line cars or the extension of the Green Line into Somerville and Medford. But they are a lot cheaper to buy and much easier to operate. Which is why a bus renaissance of sorts is happening – a series of initiatives that hold the promise of changing the transportation landscape in a relatively short period of time.

On this week’s Codcast, Chris Osgood, the chief of streets for the city of Boston, and TransitMatters guys Jim Aloisi and Josh Fairchild sing the praises of buses and a series of initiatives to both expand and improve bus service across the metro area.

Episode 98: Devin McCourty tackles criminal justice reform

When New England Patriots co-captain Devin McCourty joined the protests first set off by Colin Kaepernick and “took a knee” during the National Anthem last season, he was making a statement about racial justice issues in the country and the treatment of blacks by law enforcement officials.

President Trump quickly “hijacked” the issue, McCourty says on the Codcast, by painting it as a sign of disrespect toward those who have served in the military. It’s an absurd charge, says the team’s standout free safety, adding that many of those protesting have family members who serve in the military or who have given their lives for their country. But the controversy over the symbolic protests did reinforce for McCourty a belief in the need to take more tangible steps to back up the broad statements with real work at the ground level.

Episode 97: “Time to degree” is key

No one doubts the value of a college education. It is increasingly a requirement for entry into the middle class. But the road to a degree is filled with lots of potholes and obstacles. One top of it all is the ever-rising price of higher education, which is saddling many students with thousands of dollars of debt as they walk out the door with their degree — if they get a degree at all.

The three key words in the college affordability conversation are “time to degree,” according to Michael Dannenberg on this week’s Codcast. Getting more students to finish their higher ed programs and obtain degrees on time are crucial, says the one-time adviser to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who now serves as director of strategic initiatives at Democrats for Education Reform in Washington.

Episode 96: No bridges make good neighbors

When disputes arise between communities bordering each other, the public proclamations are usually fairly muted and respectful.

Then there’s the battle between Quincy and Boston over rebuilding the Long Island Bridge to connect to a planned addiction treatment and recovery campus.

“Boston answers to a different set of rules,” said a fired-up Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch in a conversation with The Codcast. “They get all sorts of special legislation. Boston does what it wants. I don’t think they give two hoots about their neighbors south of Boston. They’re going to do what they’re going to do and that’s Boston.”

Episode 95: Freeland rips UMass Amherst-Mt. Ida deal

Richard Freeland is a man of careful thought and measured words.

That made it noteworthy when the former state higher education commissioner and president emeritus of Northeastern University appeared at a recent hearing of the state Board of Higher Education and blasted the announcement that the University of Massachusetts Amherst planned to buy the Newton campus of Mt. Ida College. And it prompted us to invite Freeland to talk more about his concerns on The Codcast.

Episode 94: Warren, Brownsberger go at it on criminal justice bill

The sweeping criminal justice bill that Gov. Charlie Baker signed earlier this month received widespread, but not universal, praise as a welcome turn away from the tough-on-crime policies of the 1980s and ‘90s.

One notable dissenting voice was that of Setti Warren, the former Newton mayor who is now one of three Democrats vying to challenge Baker in the November election. Warren said there was lots that he liked in the bill, which pulled back sanctions in all sorts of areas, including eliminating or ratcheting back several mandatory minimum drugs sentences. But he denounced the inclusion in the bill of new mandatory minimum sentences related to the synthetic opioids Fentanyl and Carfentanil and said he would have vetoed the legislation because of them.

Sen. Will Brownsberger, the lead Senate author of the bill, called Warren’s position “uninformed,” and said it prompted him to endorse Jay Gonzalez, one of Warren’s rivals in the Democratic primary for governor.

Warren and Brownsberger sat down together to discuss their differences in this week’s Codcast. The crux of the debate came down to finding the right balance between sticking with one’s principles and the need for compromise to move things forward.

Episode 93: A devilish health care merger

Two of the state’s leading health care analysts say they aren’t sure whether creating a powerful alternative to Partners HealthCare will reduce health care costs in Massachusetts or increase them.

“It’s the devil you know versus the devil you don’t know,” said John E. McDonough, a professor of public health practice at the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University. “Are we better off having one Partners or two Partners?”

Paul Hattis, an associate professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts Medical School, said he also has mixed feelings about the “fight fire with fire” approach advocated by proponents of a merger between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Boston, Lahey Health of Burlington, New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, and Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport. The proposed health care goliath currently goes by the name of NewCo.

Episode 92: Two firms say Healey goes too far

Attorney General Maura Healey wants to shut down the companies that sell electricity to residential customers in Massachusetts, but officials with two of the firms say the answer to any problems with their industry isn’t less competition but more.

Chris Kallaher, senior director for government and regulatory affairs at Direct Energy, and Ed Brolin, director and assistant general manager of Just Energy, said on this week’s Codcast that the attorney general is overreacting.

Episode 91: Police body cameras are coming

It’s been a long march for the Boston Police Camera Action Team, but nearly four years after the community-based group set out to push Boston police to have officers deployed with body-worn cameras it looks like victory is in sight.

In recent days, Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner Bill Evans have both signaled that body cameras are coming to Boston.

“We are happy that the mayor is listening the majority of Bostonians now,” says Segun Idowu, a cofounder of the group, on this week’s Codcast.

Episode 90: Time to talk about buses

We spend a lot of time talking about gondolas and autonomous vehicles, but not enough time talking about buses. Yeah, buses.

A report issued this month by the Livable Streets Alliance said the MBTA bus system is being stifled by congestion on Boston streets. It noted congestion along just seven miles of the city’s roadways is causing delays for more than one-fifth of all MBTA bus riders, delays that contributed to an 8 percent drop in bus ridership in 2016.

The report put much of the blame on the city of Boston. “The MBTA may own and operate its bus fleet, but, increasingly, riders are being underserved by streets, traffic signals, and bus stops managed by the city of Boston,” the report said.

On this week’s Codcast, Josh Fairchild of TransitMatters chats with Andrew McFarland, community engagement manager at the Livable Streets Alliance, and Kathryn Carlson, director of transportation for the business-backed group A Better City.