Old mindset exacerbates new traffic problems

Commuting in Greater Boston has become a colossal headache, but it’s more than just our roads and trains that seem gummed up. Maybe our thinking is too.

That’s the argument Globe columnist Dante Ramos makes today.

We have been so stuck on the idea that the region is one that sees an exodus of people for sunnier and faster growing spots, he says, that we haven’t taken stock of the fact that we’re growing too, even if not at the pace of places like Arizona or Florida. Ramos points to new Census data showing that the four counties that make up the bulk of Greater Boston have added 250,000 residents since 2000. And there are 300,000 more people working in the Boston area today than was the case in 2010.

Earlier this week, the Globe’s Beth Teitell documented just how much worse traffic has gotten. The examples were jarring. A decade ago, a commuter bus from Fairhaven to Back Bay made the trip in 90 minutes. Today, that trip takes 130 minutes. An express bus from North Londonderry, New Hampshire, to South Station clocked the trip at 65 minutes in 2008. Today, it’s a 100-minute slog. And on and on.

Despite the evidence piling up on just how much longer commuters are stuck in traffic, Ramos says we’re stuck in a mindset more oriented toward fixing 2000-era problems than dealing with the new reality of a growing region.

“So far, Baker has taken a Mr. Fix-It approach, which works up to a point,” he says of the strategy for a creaky MBTA from the state’s three-yards-in-a-cloud-of-dust governor. The reform before revenue mantra may have been defensible a decade ago, says Ramos. It looks less so with the addition of 250,000 new people to the region.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, meanwhile, has been timid about removing parking spaces from streets, Ramos says, in order to create bus-only lanes that would greatly speed trips for beleaguered riders.

There are plenty of ideas being generated from groups like Transportation for Massachusetts, which is pushing congestion price tolling, and TransitMatters, which is advocating a major remake of the commuter rail system. Legislation has also been filed — and stalled in the House — to allow local option taxes to support transit upgrades.

All that’s missing, it seems, is the leadership to make things happen.



Massachusetts shifted gears on its multi-billion-dollar clean energy procurement Wednesday, dropping Northern Pass because of the project’s failure to obtain one last, key permit from the state of New Hampshire and opting instead for a Maine utility that has yet to obtain any of its key permits. (CommonWealth)

After pressure from state lawmakers, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority withdrew its financial support from a national trade association that supports Trump administration efforts to preempt state laws designed to protect student borrowers from unscrupulous lenders. (CommonWealth)

The Enterprise obtained a copy of a 1998 Weymouth police report charging Sen. Michael Brady of Brockton with operating under the influence and causing a high-speed crash, but the district court can find no records he was ever arraigned. Brady was arrested again over the weekend for drunken driving. Howie Carr weighs in, as you knew he would. (Boston Herald)

Although the House recently voted to waive all past non-disclosure agreements, it’s refusing to make them public. (Boston Globe)

A legislative hearing on a net neutrality bill gets hot, as lawmakers and internet service providers trade verbal jabs. (State House News)

A Lowell Sun editorial asks why everyone is rushing out to get a Real ID at their local office of the Registry of Motor Vehicles when they won’t need one to fly until 2020. “So give those Registry workers a break; they too faced a learning curve, and deserve our patience — at least for now.”

Women in the restaurant industry, which they say is rife with sexual harassment, plan to rally today against that workplace culture at the State House. (Boston Herald)


Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera is seeking city council approval for putting surveillance cameras in “hot spots” around the city. (Eagle-Tribune)


President Trump ousted Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who the president said less than a year ago would never have to hear the phrase “You’re fired,” and replaced him with White House physician Ronny Jackson. (Washington Post) Shulkin wasted no time defending himself, writing in an op-ed in the New York Times that his firing was a result of clashes with Trump political appointees who want to privatize veterans’ health care and saw him is “an obstacle.”

A lawyer for Trump’s legal team in the Russia election meddling investigation, who resigned last week, broached the idea of pardons last year with the lawyers for two former Trump aides while a grand jury was hearing their testimony. (New York Times)

Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson is leading a national effort to recruit fellow sheriffs to throw their support behind building a wall along the Mexican border. (Standard-Times)


Chelsea Sunday Kline of Northampton is mounting a primary challenge to former Senate president Stan Rosenberg, who has held the seat since 1991.(MassLive)


Apple CEO Tim Cook rebukes Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg for monetizing the company’s  customers, and says it’s time to start regulating the firm. “Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty,” he said. (The Guardian)

Bankers met with members of the minority community in Worcester to hear their frustrations. “For too long bank policy has exacerbated the effects of poverty,” said Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty. (Telegram & Gazette)

A Martha’s Vineyard woman has filed suit against three individuals and three companies in the adult entertainment industry who she said rented her home in Aquinnah for the winter of 2014-15 and, without her knowledge or consent, made numerous porn films that showed her home’s interior and original artwork. (Cape Cod Times)


Harvard rewrites the line of “Fair Harvard,” the university’s alma mater song, to remove the word “Puritans.” The original wording wasn’t viewed as welcoming. (WBUR)

The Boston Public Schools have posted nine administrative jobs that current officeholders must reapply for. Parent activists think it’s related to talk of district grade reconfiguration to eliminate stand-alone middle schools. (Boston Herald)

Randolph School Superintendent Thomas Anderson has been picked to take over as superintendent of the New Bedford schools. (Standard-Times) It is the latest example of musical chairs among school superintendents in the state, which CommonWealth wrote about last year.


A New Bedford city councilor has filed a wrongful termination suit against Southcoast Health System but in a brief, but hospital officials say Brian Gomes was fired following a sexual harassment investigation. (Standard-Times)


A Herald editorial criticizes Keolis’s “Fare is Fair” campaign to crack down on free riders on the commuter rail system because it herds customers into a crowded holding area before letting them onto train platforms.

The president of the union representing bus drivers at the Worcester Regional Transit Authority sues to get his job back after he was fired for speaking to the media. (Telegram & Gazette)


Wen Stephenson interviews Marla Marcum about the West Roxbury pipeline opponents who attempted to mount a “necessity defense” in court, arguing that their attempts to block the pipeline were necessary because of the environmental harm it will cause. Stephenson was arrested himself protesting the pipeline.(CommonWealth)

A Globe editorial says the state is on the brink of its most promising venture into offshore wind, with the state and utilities on the verge of awarding rights to site wind turbines off Southeastern Massachusetts.


Elaine Wynn testified that in 2009 she told Kim Sinatra, the legal counsel for Wynn Resorts, about a 2005 rape involving her ex-husband Steve Wynn but acknowledged she did not inform the company’s board of directors. Sinatra said she was not told about any rape allegation. The alleged incident has been recounted in court papers before, but this was the first time Elaine Wynn made the allegations in person. The issue is important to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission because it is trying to determine how widespread the knowledge of Steve Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct was at the company. (Associated Press)


A veteran State Police dispatcher who was placed on leave after posting internal video evidence and personal comments on social media has been suspended without pay pending an internal investigation into her actions. (The Enterprise)

The US Justice Department is investigating allegations that Massachusetts prison officials are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by withholding drug treatment for inmates suffering from addiction. (Boston Globe)

A former employee of a Weymouth daycare was arrested and charged with fraud for an alleged scam where he submitted lower income for clients to the state so they qualified for state subsidies without their knowledge and then pocketed the difference, which was hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Patriot Ledger)

Federal officials shut down a pirate radio station operating out of Dorchester. (MassLive)

The state’s supermax prison in Shirley is cited for numerous health violations. (Salem News)

A juror fainted after watching a tape of a former San Antonio attorney having sex with one of his clients. Mark Benavides is charged with demanding sex from clients in return for his legal services. (San Antonio Express)


The New York Times issues a diversity report on its staff makeup that shows the numbers moving in the right direction — “thought not far enough or fast enough.”


Play ball.