MBTA problems impact quality of life and economy, transit experts say

BOSTON - Calls for change at the MBTA run deeper than desires for shorter wait times and commutes.

There is growing concern over the agency's shortcomings and its potential impact on the quality of life for those living in Greater Boston.

Kate Dineen is the COO of A Better City. The organization is made up of 130 businesses and institutions focused on improving the competitiveness of the region.

"Even if you don't take the T frequently, your life is definitely impacted by the fact that the system is not safe, affordable or reliable," said Dineen. "When the system is not functioning, it has widespread ramifications on our competitiveness and our ability for businesses to retain and recruit talent and continue to thrive and grow."

Data released this week by MassDOT showed street traffic was up to pre-pandemic levels. The MBTA released similar data on ridership that showed levels are just half of what they were before the pandemic began.

Stacy Thompson works with the Livable Streets Alliance. "There is really no major city globally that has a thriving economy without a transit system," she said. "It really comes down to people can't get downtown to go to a great restaurant, they can't go downtown to go to work, they can't get across town to get to a doctor's appointment."

Jarred Johnson is the head of TransitMatters and said Boston does not work without the T. "We think traffic is bad now," Johnson said. "Add another two to three hundred thousand people to the roads."

Johnson added if these safety issues continue to happen it ultimately chips away at the reputation of Boston as a business hub. "All the tax breaks in the world won't encourage employers to stay or locate jobs here if we have a failing transportation system," Johnson said.