Last winter, the debate over transportation funding brought a lot of attention to long-overlooked issues of public transit access in communities outside of Greater Boston. A frequently repeated refrain was, we can't give Boston the late-night service young professionals hunger for before transit-dependent residents in other parts of the state have Sunday service.
As the state begins to invest new transportation revenues, regional equity is still a serious concern. While RTA riders wait at least another year for significant service improvements, the MBTA has approved $20 million for late-night service to begin this spring. This expenditure comes despite the looming decision around an arbitration award for the Carmen's Union, which is likely to cost the MBTA tens of millions of dollars, creating a significant deficit in the current MBTA budget.
With double-digit unemployment persisting in many Gateway Cities around the state, more robust transit service is sorely needed to get workers to job opportunities in outlying areas. A key component of the transportation funding bill was a provision requiring RTAs to complete planning to better align transit service with economic activity. Unfortunately, this expensive planning provision was not funded in the legislation, leaving the RTAs scrambling to complete the work without adequate resources. Meanwhile, Greater Boston's hot housing market pushes more economically insecure families out to Gateway Cities, where inadequate transit makes it all the more difficult for them to find stable employment.
Without a doubt, late-night service that keeps the next Facebook founder from leaving town is a smart economic development investment for Greater Boston. But delivering those four hours of late-night service each week will cost the equivalent of one-third of the budget for transit in other parts of the Commonwealth. The economic development potential of an investment of that magnitude in our RTAs shouldn't be discounted.
-- Ben Forman
Ed Augustus, the director of government relations at Holy Cross and former campaign manager for US Rep. Jim McGovern, is given a nine-month interim appointment as Worcester city manager for nine months, the Telegram & Gazette reports.
Tim McGourthy, Worcester's Chief Development Officer, resigns to take the reins of the Worcester Municipal Research Bureau.
The Massachusetts House last week advanced a bill that would allow 17-year-olds in Lowell to vote in city elections. The legislation would also amend the online registration and early voting bill that passed the week before.
Brockton Mayor-elect Bill Carpenter selects Bob Buckley as his chief of staff in his first pick for his administration.
To keep the average property tax increase in Methuen to $100, Mayor Stephen Zanni says he will have to lay off two dozen police, fire, and public works employees, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
HOUSING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Zimmerman/Volk Associates releases a study that suggests potential for market-rate housing in downtown Springfield. The study shows conditions for market-rate housing in the downtown area have improved, and could draw young adults and empty nesters.
A proposal goes before Haverhill City Council to convert a deteriorating and vacant building in the Mount Washington neighborhood into a seven-unit apartment complex.
Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan meets with Comcast, the nonprofit Greater Fall River Development Corp., and the Fall River Industrial Park Association to develop a plan to bring more reliable high-speed internet and other technological capabilities to local businesses.
A baseball team that will play in the collegiate Futures League next summer starts to take shape in Worcester, the Telegram & Gazette reports.
The Mayor's Innovation Project releases a new report on removing freeways that bisect cities, citing efforts underway in Syracuse and Rochester, NY.
Ariel Wittenberg of the Standard-Times takes an objective look at South Coast Rail, quoting Ben Forman on the critical link between rail investment and transformative redevelopment policy.
The Berkshire Eagle urges care when considering two ballot questions it says appear to be misguided: repealing the casino law and indexing the gas tax to inflation.
Durfee High School in Fall River is seeing increased enrollment and academic success in their Advanced Placement program.
While the Leominster community offers education to Boston-area homeless youth, some residents worry about growing class sizes and lack of federal funding.
Nearly 300 Brockton High School students, the most at any school in the state, earned John and Abigail Adams Scholarships this year, which award full tuition for four years to any public college or university in Massachusetts. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of MCAS scores.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem outlines a criminal justice reform plan that would favor treatment over incarceration for nonviolent offenders, particularly veterans, NECN reports.
Morton Hospital of Taunton and Saint Anne's Hospital of Fall River won Top Hospital honors from the Leapfrog Group. These honors are only given to 90 hospitals in the country, and only seven in Massachusetts.
Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun presented their updated casino plans to Revere last night. The state gaming commission will vote on the revised proposal on Tuesday.