Patrick talks taxes, tolls and why we should be optimistic about the future of transportation

Gov. Deval Patrick during a state of the commonwealth address.
NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

Metro Boston caught up with Governor Deval Patrick today shortly after MassDOT released a report on a ten-year overhaul of the state’s transportation system. Read about that report here, and check out what the Governor had to say below:

Metro: “The state needs $684 million to operate the same system we have today – a system that is essentially broken – and this plan calls for a $1 billion more a year to create a better. It seems grim, Governor. Do you think the public can be optimistic about the future of our transportation system?”

Gov. Patrick: “I think they can if they’re willing to pay for it, and we’re willing to show that there is a sensible and fair way to pay for it. We didn’t get here overnight. We’ve been doing short term patches, plugs and gimmicks that put off the day of reckoning, and we can’t put it off anymore.”

Metro: “The plan calls for “regular and modest” fare, fee and toll increases. It’s no secret motorists and public transportation customers seem fed up with fees as it is. Do you think they’ll get behind more increases?”

Gov. Patrick: “I think they’ll get behind them if we show it actually makes a difference in the service… We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people saying, ‘Man, I wish I could get a subway or a bus at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night after a time out with my pals.” People said they would be willing to pay for that, but in order for people to want that we’ve got to make sure the trains come on time, that they’re properly lit, comfortable and safe. Not just question of extending schedule, it’s about how we make the customer experience more positive.”

Metro: “The plan calls for the completion of the South Coast Rail Line commuter trains to connect Boston to Fall River and New Bedford. Why now?”

Gov. Patrick: “To me, the notion that the fourth and fifth largest cities in the Commonwealth would be cut off economically and socially seems unfair. When you consider the job and educational opportunities in the Greater Boston area, and the housing opportunities in the South Coast area, it’s just crazy not to have thse two linked.”

Metro: “When do you think we can see that happen?”

Gov. Patrick: “We’ve done a bunch already. We bought the rights of way a few years ago. we have started construction already on New Bedford that have to be refurbished… if funding is okayed, it could get off the road soon.”


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