NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

September 19, 2013

'Car free' week gimmick is out of gas

(Continued)

But for the bulk of us, “alternative transportation” is a non-alternative. Many must commute long distances to work, to places where public transportation does not exist.

If our state government thinks we should give up our personal vehicles, perhaps its time might be better spent actually providing Bay State citizens with a functioning public transportation system instead of the inefficient, delay-plagued, patronage-ridden, fiscally bankrupt hack-o-rama we have now. The MBTA is a disaster on rails, carrying some $5 billion in debt. Facing a $161 million deficit last year, the MBTA raised fares by an average 23 percent while cutting back on service. The system requires regular infusions of taxpayer funds to remain solvent. It offers employment, retirement and pension packages that are way out of whack with the reality of its economics.

The sad truth is, if a significant number of drivers took the Department of Transportation up on its car-free challenge, the MBTA would collapse like a Big Dig sinkhole.

Promoting green-friendly stunts like “Car-Free Week” is foolish in the face of the all-too-real challenges facing our public transportation system. The Department of Transportation ought to leave those driving to work alone so long as it is incapable of providing any realistic, functional alternative to the personal automobile.

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