Hackerama on Steroids

Gov. Maura Healey has a plan to fix the MBTA. Her not-so-innovative plan includes hiring 1000 new employees, linking the Red and Blue lines in Boston, expanding western Massachusetts service and “studying” low-income T fares. 

Brilliant! Not really. She is going to expand service (at a time the existing service is beyond belief horrible to the point of sometimes being non-existent, often during rush hours). She will add a thousand new hacks to the payroll and set up yet another handout for the welfare classes.

What could possibly go wrong?

We have all seen the stories about the retail giant Wal-Mart shutting down stores in failed blue cities like Chicago and San Francisco, because they are no longer profitable. That’s what smart business managers do to keep their corporations successful – and out of bankruptcy court. 

In the case of government and Bacon Hill leadership, they do the opposite. The MBTA already has a huge debt problem and constantly needs taxpayer bailouts. Every time they open a new station, the T takes on more debt because the ridership doesn’t pay for the cost of the trains, which run fitfully at best and often not at all. Instead of fixing what we already have, Healey opts for expansion. Like every good tax-and -spend politician, she adores those ribbon-cutting photo ops at the new stations. 

According to our new Governor, the T will get more riders by expanding. You and I both know that won’t happen with the T being so unreliable.

To fix the maintenance problems, Healey is following the federal investigators’ recommendation to hire more employees. Has a government investigation ever concluded that another government agency had too many employees?

When I hear 1000 new T workers, I see 1000 new pensions that we, the taxpayers, are going to have to fund. You might think I am being overly cynical, but then Atty. Gen. Healey was supposed to investigate what happened to $25 million that went missing when the T pension board invested with a former member of the T board. Every time I called on the matter, I was told we don’t comment on on-going investigations. (Stop me if you’ve heard that one before, especially from the FBI.)

Now the statute of limitations has run out. So we are going to get the hack payroll and subsequent pension burden and still have all the same problems with the T’s reliability.

A serious governor would first address why everything in government costs so much more to do.

For example, a few years back the Pioneer Institute did a report that found the MBTA spends twice as much as other transit agencies on bus maintenance. The top mechanics were making six-figure salaries.  Painters were earning between $86,000 and $101,000.  Healey would not need to request more tax dollars if we made the money we already invest work for us. 

So I think it is easy to predict that four years from now, the Commonwealth will still have the same failed MBTA.  But our new Governor could perhaps prove me wrong, by committing to take the T to work every day like Michael Dukakis did.

She lives in Cambridge now. But I wonder if Maura Healey even knows the order of the stops on the Red Line, even if we made it easier for the Harvard grad and said she didn’t have to rattle off the names of any stations south of Broadway.

But now she’s an expert on mass transit. Aren’t they always?

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