Billions of billboards?
The MBTA failed to win friends or influence people with its plan to auction off billboard advertising rights in 60 locations in eastern Massachusetts. Predictably, some affected communities are seething. Leaving aside the issue of visual pollution along the state's highways and byways (Dan Grabauskas, how could you???), the plan is expected bring in the paltry sum of $6 million per year (that's paltry in MBTA terms) over the next two decades.
You'd think in these reform-before-revenue times, communities would be saluting this latest "we're- dancing-as-fast-as-we-can" effort to come up with cold, hard cash money. Guess not.
Meanwhile, over at the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, where life isn't any better, officials decided to team up with their poor cousins at the T to save $600,000 over at least the next three years by having the transit agency transport toll money to hopefully secure and undisclosed locations. The noise you hear is the sound of one hand clapping (and that's probably Alan LeBovidge's).
The transportation system's shortfall is actually about $20 billion over the next 20 years, but let's just leave that aside.
"This is the most comprehensive transportation bill the Senate has seen in generations, and moving forward, I am confident that we will fully reform our transportation system, and gain the trust of the toll and taxpayers," said Baddour, the Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation.Going relatively unnoticed in the furor over the true cost of combining these agencies into a super-duper agency, slashing union benefits, etc., is the little matter of the new agency's taking on the T's debt ($8 billion) and the Turnpike's debt ($2 billion).
That's a lot of billboards.