The Codcast: How reliable is the T? Do we need overnight buses?

The Codcast this week is an MBTA twofer: James Aloisi and Josh Fairchild of TransitMatters make a pitch for an overnight bus service pilot and also interview Matthew Casale, a staff attorney from MassPIRG, about the accuracy of a reliability indicator the T is using.

TransitMatters, along with the communities of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Chelsea, and Revere, has been pushing overnight bus service for some time. The latest iteration of their proposal, bus routes running from Revere into Boston and from Mattapan into Boston every half hour, ran into headwinds at a meeting of the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday. Board members thought the subsidy, at $27 per passenger ($22 excluding fixed costs), was way too high and urged more work on the proposal.

Aloisi said the decision wasn’t a setback, insisting the question before T officials is not whether overnight bus should be implemented, but how. He said the parties are now gathering data on possible options to cater to the estimated 50,000 people who leave or start jobs in the middle of the night.

But a CommonWealth review of the overnight bus numbers concluded the pilot is unlikely to proceed unless it receives a significant subsidy from the T or wins financial support from outside the agency. A pilot proposal extending commuter rail service to Foxborough won approval earlier this year only with the help of significant financial support from the Kraft Group, which owns Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place.

The second half of the Codcast focuses on a new MassPIRG report that raises questions about the accuracy of a reliability indicator the T uses for the subway system. The indicator suggests the T’s subways are on time 90 percent of the time, but, according to the report, the metric the T is using doesn’t fully measure the customer experience. Casale said the indicator also doesn’t jibe with customer surveys indicating as many as 50 percent of the T’s riders believe service is unreliable.

Aloisi said the T’s reliability indictator needs improvement. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” he said.



The House and Senate end their bickering and sign a budget deal that bans bump stocks and provides $3 million for an anti-gang initiative. (State House News)

A letter signed by 125 House and Senate members voices support for legislation and initiatives making it difficult for Massachusetts to expand its natural gas pipeline capacity. (State House News)

A Herald editorial calls on Beacon Hill to rein in accumulation of sick time by state employees following a report that unused sick time among the state workforce now totals $558 million.

The Senate approved legislation strengthening the laws around sexual assault on college campuses. (Lowell Sun) Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito calls for a change in thinking around the issue of domestic violence. (Lowell Sun)


The state Appeals Court upheld a Superior Court judge’s decision setting the purchase price for Hingham to buy the town’s privately owned water supplier for $89 million. Town officials had activated a century-old right to purchase the system but the judge set the price between what the town offered and what Aquarion, the operator, determined was a fair price. (Patriot Ledger)


Congress unveiled its $1.51 trillion tax cut but it is still facing significant hurdles on both sides of the debate, including the price tag which is just beyond the point of avoiding a filibuster in the Senate. (U.S. News & World Report) The measure has significant implications for non-profits, ranging from lifting limits on political activity to doubling the standard deduction which could reduce giving from people who itemize. (Chronicle of Philanthropy) The plan could put a damper on the Boston area’s hot housing market, as it limits mortgage interest deductions to the first $500,000 of a loan, half the current $1 million limit, and would cap property tax deductions at $10,000. (Boston Globe) Gov. Charlie Baker says the proposed elimination of deductions for state and local taxes would be bad for Massachusetts families. (Boston Herald) George Will says the only big change from the tax plan would be to the national debt — which it will increase. (Boston Herald)

As expected, President Trump went with the safe choice by appointing Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve, though the move broke with decades of tradition by not reappointing Janet Yellen to the post. (New York Times)

A Twitter employee on his or her last day removed Trump’s official account from the social media site, causing a frenzy for the 11 minutes it was down. (New York Times)

Howie Carr offers up a nothing-burger column after his less-than-hard-hitting one-on-one interview yesterday with Trump. It ends with Carr expressing regret that he didn’t ask the president about news that just emerged of accusations against journalist David Corn of inappropriate workplace behavior toward women. “Maybe next time,” Carr concludes. Hearing Trump hold forth on the topic of sexual harassment of women would be a column worth reading. (Boston Herald)


The Eagle-Tribune endorsed Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera for reelection. “We may want more from City Hall, and we may have greater expectations and visions for Lawrence. But the alternative on Tuesday — in the form of former mayor William Lantigua, who is running to reclaim his old job — is such a non-starter, how to vote should go without saying,” the editorial said.

The Globe looks at the challenge of producing affordable housing in Boston, a flashpoint in the current mayoral election.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren answers yes when asked if the Democratic National Committee rigged the 2016 presidential nomination in favor of Hillary Clinton. (Time)

Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken walked out of a debate when her opponent, Francisco Sclafani, alleged that the city’s angel program, which is designed to help opioid addicts get help, is actually a cover for sexual exploitation of young women. (Gloucester Times)

As happens regularly every four years, Boston’s planning and development agency is coming in for attack during this year’s mayoral race. (Boston Globe) As this CommonWealth look at the race earlier this week pointed out, however, challengers rarely get traction with such “process” issues.

Worcester City Councilor-at-Large Michael Gaffney, who last month said he was leaving politics, takes issue with a campaign flyer suggesting he supports some of his political rivals. With his name still on the ballot, he now says he might serve out his term if reelected. (Telegram & Gazette)

A campaign aide to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Setti Warren questions why Gov. Charlie Baker held a secret meeting with Steve Wynn, whose company is building a $2.4 billion casino in Everett, on a recent trip to Las Vegas. (MassLive)

Ads get intense, and misleading, as the vote nears in Lowell on where to locate a new high school. (Lowell Sun)


TJX, the Framingham-based retailer that operates TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Home Goods stores, continues to pay its employees in Puerto Rico despite the stores remaining closed six weeks after a devastating hurricane hit the island. (MetroWest Daily News)

A woman who left Fidelity Investments because of her claim of gender bias said she has been unable to land a new job for six years and is suing Fidelity, claiming the company is sabotaging her job search efforts.

About 40 million fire extinguishers, some as old as 40 years, have been recalled because they may not perform when needed, with at least one death attributed to a malfunctioning extinguisher. (Associated Press)


Dan Adler, a teacher at UP Academy Leonard in Lawrence, was named a Milken Educator, a prestigious award that comes with a $25,000 prize. He said he doesn’t see Lawrence as a “city of the damned,” which is how a Boston Magazine article described it. (Eagle-Tribune)

A survey of Salem State University students finds concerns about the racial climate and indications that 1 of every 10 female students has been sexually assaulted. (Salem News)

A cadet at Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay is facing disciplinary action for wearing a Nazi costume on Halloween to breakfast during the school’s annual “dress down day.” (Cape Cod Times)

A new science institute is sprouting at Boston College, anchored by a $25 million gift from a BC alum who is a top executive at Apple. (Boston Globe)

The University of Massachusetts School of Law in Dartmouth is looking at expanding and is eyeing Worcester for a satellite campus. (Standard-Times)


Intercity bus lines are facing a driver shortage. (Boston Globe)


Eversource touts the “certainty” of its problem-plagued Northern Pass transmission project to bring hydroelectricity from Quebec and says the venture best suits the needs of Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)

Bay State Wind, a partnership between Orsted and Eversource, opened a new office in New Bedford and contributed $25,000 to the city’s Wind Energy Center. (4C Offshore)

A massive government report says it is extremely likely that human activities are the dominant cause of global warming. (NPR) Is global warming making air conditioning a legal right at prisons? (Governing)

Cape fishermen say the halibut population, considered endangered by the US but a $200 million industry in Canada, is rebounding long before scientists predicted and want federal officials to revisit the 2056 date for reopening the waters for catching the tasty flat fish. (Cape Cod Times)


DNAinfo and the Gothamist, two digital news sites covering local news in New York City, are shutting down just a week after reporters and editors voted to unionize. (New York Times)

North Adams mayoral candidate Robert Moulton criticized the Berkshire Eagle for failing to disclose that one of  the newspaper’s owners contributed money to his opponent, Thomas Bernard. (Berkshire Eagle)