Free the T, Close Hanscom
I’ve been feeling frustrated that leadership at every level of government isn’t responding to the obvious climate emergency with any increased sense of urgency.
Multi-year plans and modest emissions reductions are insufficient. We need emergency action to combat the climate emergency.
Now, there are a lot of things we can and should do that will require time to put together. Center lane busways on every 4+ lane street in Boston, for example, while far less expensive than new rail lines, will still take time to put into place.
But there are two things that Massachusetts can do right now in order to help respond to the climate emergency. The first is to free the MBTA. Bus, subway, ferry, commuter rail—make the whole thing free. Denver saw ridership increase 22% when it made public transportation free for a month in 2022. Making the T (and, for that matter, every other form of public transportation in MA) free will ease traffic and reduce carbon emissions and make the entire Greater Boston area more liveable.
“But how are you gonna pay for it?” Same way we paid for throwing millions of dollars at GE to not build a headquarters in the Seaport, I guess. But also, eliminating fares will save tons of money on fare collection. No more machines, no more server farms running the fare system, and far less stress on bus drivers, so less turnover. (Also, going fare-free helps improve bus efficiency, since all doors can open at every stop. This saves on fuel costs.)
The second instant emergency climate change-fighting measure is such a no-brainer I can’t believe nobody’s even proposed it yet: close Hanscom Field.
Hanscom Field is an airport in Bedford, Massachusetts, that is the primary airport for private jets in Massachusetts. In fact, it’s almost exclusively dedicated to private aviation.
Even in the best of times, the idea that Massachusetts taxpayers should fund a landing strip for the 1%’s private jets is pretty onerous, but during a climate emergency, it’s inexcusable. No one needs to travel by private jet.
I believe private aviation should be banned altogether, but that’s something that needs to happen at the federal level. The least Massachusetts can do is shut down the airfield that makes this an attractive place to fly private jets in and out of.
Maybe there are better ideas. If so, I’d love to hear them. More than that, though, I’d love to have someone acknowledge that the situation we’re in is an emergency.