Anyone in Boston will tell you how upset they are with the MBTA’s quality and service this winter. Commuters have been forced to squeeze into the T like sardines in a can and have waited outside in subzero temperatures due to widespread delays and disabled trains. Yes, 2015 has been an unusually stormy winter, but the MBTA’s problems are nothing new. Most trains have not been upgraded since the 1970s, showing their age with outdated wood paneling, screeching brakes, and frequent mechanical issues. The aging MBTA has been ignored for a long time and this winter has finally brought the necessary attention that the T needs.
The main reason why people are hesitant to push for a revitalization of the MBTA is taxes. Many residents in the Boston suburbs and the western part of the Commonwealth oppose a tax increase dedicated to fixing the T because they do not use the MBTA and they therefore feel that the tax increase would not benefit them. While these voters may not use the MBTA enough to reap the direct benefits of an MBTA overhaul, what they don’t understand is that they would receive indirect benefits such as an increase in property value. Young professionals looking to have children begin to move out of the city and into the suburbs. However, most young professionals still want to work in the city and maintain an urban connection. If properties are in close proximity to MBTA access, property values would increase due to the millennial generation’s demand for such homes.
Even as more and more young professionals are showing a preference for remaining in the city, Boston’s sky-high rents are not affordable for a young family. With a reliable and revamped transportation system, young couples would be more inclined to move to the suburbs with an MBTA access point in order to achieve the increased space they desire. With some of the population moving out of the city, this would have the possible added benefit of easing the Boston housing crisis.
Although revitalization requires money, it generates revenue as well. What should never be overlooked is that the MBTA is the engine of the Massachusetts economy.