Local Government and Politics, News

Lynn’s delegation is on board with Gov. Baker’s transportation review

A bus driver climbs out of his bus at Central Square Station in Lynn.
(Spenser Hasak)

LYNN — Gov. Charlie Baker, recognizing a transportation vision is key for a thriving economy, has created a high-level panel to advise him on the state’s transit needs.

“I’m glad the governor put this commission together,” said state Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn). “They listed five key areas, but there should be a sixth on how to tackle the financial problems that have plagued Massachusetts transportation systems for decades.”

The governor launched the “Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth” on Tuesday, charged with developing transportation remedies for the next two decades. A report is expected after next fall’s election.

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said while he is pleased the governor launched the commission, little mention was made of finding cash to pay for transit solutions.

“Transportation is a major driver of our economy and quality of life in Massachusetts,” he said. “Revenue needs to be a key part of the conversation to create a transit system we deserve. I hope water transit is a part of these discussions, too.”

In making the announcement, Baker said smart transportation decisions and policy guided by strong analysis will be the foundation to keep the state’s innovation economy thriving and competitive.

He said the panel will focus on climate and resiliency; transportation electrification; autonomous and connected vehicles, including ride-sharing services; transit and mobility services; land use and demographic trends.

Mayor Thomas M. McGee said the state not only needs a plan to create a 21st century transportation system, but a way to pay for it.

“The reality is we need to spend up to $1.5 billion on transit,” he said. “We need to find the revenue in a fair way that reflects a broad base of transportation needs across the commonwealth.”

The mayor said the reality is the MBTA operates a 19th century commuter rail system with a diesel train.

“That’s not what they do in the other parts of the world,” he said. “We are grinding to a halt in Greater Boston and there are substantial needs statewide. We have the opportunity to do this right and be a national model.”

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, who will serve as an ex officio member, mentioned that sources of revenue to support future infrastructure investments need to be identified.

The other members of the unpaid panel include: Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, Steve Kadish, research fellow at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University; Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Eileen McAnneny; Rebecca Davis, deputy director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council; Daniel Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association; Gretchen Effgen, vice president of Global Partnerships and Business Team at NuTonomy;  José Gómez- Ibáñez, the Derek Bok Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Harvard; Kenneth Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists; Carol Lee Rawn, transportation director for CERES; Timothy McGourthy, executive director for the Worcester Regional Research Bureau; Mark Melnik, director of  economic and public policy research at the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Colleen Quinn, senior vice president for ChargePoint; Karen Sawyer Conrad, executive director of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission; Sandra Sheehan, CEO for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority; Stephen Silveira, vice president at ML Strategies; Navjot Singh, managing partner for McKinsey Pharmaceuticals and Medicals Products; Kirk Sykes, head of the Urban Strategy America Fund.

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