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Old 03-23-2010, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Long Beach
2,348 posts, read 2,683,871 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missionhill View Post
Who says Western Mass is ignored? It's easy to feel neglected and dissed and blah blah blah but where's the evidence? Where's the analysis? western mass writes as though this is common knowledge, whereas it is a contention so far without any basis in evidence. Has the state not invested in Western Mass in proportion to its population? Show us the numbers, please. The west has had its share of influential politicians, including David Bartley (Speaker of the House) and Gov. Swift. Gov Patrick has a second home in Mt Washington. That's not evidence of anything, either, but haven't they brought home their share of bacon over the years? If you're blaming state government for the relatively weaker economy in Western Mass and greater Springfield in particular, I would argue that local economies are mostly beyond the power of state government to influence. New York hasn't had any more luck reviving its vast upstate territories despite the prosperity of the NYC area. The Boston area has done well over the past 30-40 years because of its concentrated advantages--among them educational institutions, health care industry, finance, and venture capital. State govt has done its part to invest in infrastructure, like the MBTA expansions, Big Dig, harbor cleanup; but those aren't the engine of the economy, they've just helped to secure it.

I would agree that Western MA is off the radar of many Eastern Mass residents but that doesn't mean it's ignored in the State House.
I take it you've never been west of Framingham.
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Old 03-23-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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Very funny, lmkcin. What about answering my question?
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Old 03-23-2010, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Long Beach
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Well New York State is vast compared to Massachusetts.
Shouldn't the wealth of Boston at least trickle to the Springfield area? Springfield and Boston have always been the two centers of population for the Commonwealth, and for 390 years they have always been at odds. I don't want to rely on historic precedent, but I will. Shay's Rebellion, The creation of Quabbin Resevoir and the diversion of funds to offset the cost of the Big Dig, are a few examples. Why should the state incur the cost of that, it's entirely located within the city of Boston.

Springfield is a city on the scale of Hartford and Providence and yet lags far far behind them in terms of economic activity. This is a state run by people from inner Boston. The Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate?

What does it say when the majority of people in eastern Mass couldn't point to Springfield on a map?
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Old 03-23-2010, 03:28 PM
 
Location: Newton, Mass.
2,954 posts, read 11,892,930 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lmkcin View Post
the Big Dig...Why should the state incur the cost of that, it's entirely located within the city of Boston.
I don't completely disagree that the Boston area gets more attention from the state than the Pioneer Valley, but I think some of the Boston area's wealth does trickle to Western Mass.

I would not cite the Big Dig as an example of Boston-ism run amok. Putting aside the fact that Boston is the state's largest city and its key economic driver, the state's FY 2010 budget is $28 billion, the city's is barely $2 billion. Just going by population alone, the city of Boston would be entitled to another couple of billion from the state budget.

The state funds all sorts of things across the state, even if the project's within the limits of a city or town. The Big Dig is part of I-93, so the feds picked up a lot of the tab anyway, likewise because the federal government pays for such projects all over the country.

It's also appropriate for the state to pay because I-93 is a major road connecting the North Shore and the South Shore. That road is very important to commerce in Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Bristol and Barnstable Counties. Those counties have almost 75% of the state's residents, and almost certainly have an even higher share of its wealth. Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties have only 13% of the state's residents.
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Old 03-24-2010, 08:02 AM
 
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Shays Rebellion-- OK, point taken. Some investments from Boston: in the 19th century, Boston investors built Holyoke which, until the Depression, was a wealthy place and wealth generator for Western Mass. Public investment in the 20th century included making Amherst Aggie into the main campus of the state university system, a tremendous boon to the Amherst-Northampton area. The state also built the turnpike in part as a gesture toward better connection of west to east, and funded the Mass MOCA which has turned North Adams around. Under Nixon, the Defense Department closed the Springfield Armory which was very unfortunate even if unrelated to Mass politics (it also closed the Boston Naval Shipyard). Reducing the importance of Westover AFB didn't help either. I know of no big state investments in Springfield itself other than the 1960s era civic center, which isn't so big anyway. But Springfield-Chicopee-Holyoke were strong industrial cities and the trend nationally away from large-scale manufacturing has put a big hole in the local economy that's very hard to fill. What do you think they should do?

Quabbin was certainly a power play. It couldn't have been done today with environmental impact reviews and opposition politics being what they are. But wasn't much of the early planning done under Gov. Coolidge--of Northampton? And now Western Mass has this magnificent wilderness in its midst.

Yeah, obviously the big dig is a lightning rod. It became a vital link in the greater Boston road system, at least that's how Fred Salvucci saw it, once Gov. Sargent had decided not to build some of the other planned links, like the inner belt, the southwest expressway, and to not complete the northeast expressway. They hoped most would be funded with federal funds but politics got in the way and the state ended up having to pick up too much of the tab.
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Old 03-24-2010, 11:37 AM
 
Location: Long Beach
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Don't get me wrong I love Boston and I love all of Massachusetts. But Springfield-Chicopee-Holyoke for a while were igonored by many powers that be. Those powers were all Bostonians with interests in their city and their pockets were there too. Now I know Gov Patrick has done many things to bring Western Mass back to the fold. Holyoke has huge plans centered around a high-tech computer center (I wish I could elaborate more....maybe someone of this forum could), that will revitalize the very depressed center.

I just believe Springfield should be part of the economic boom that Worcester and Lowell were a part of. Even Fall River and New Bedford are a part of Greater Boston's plans for regional cooperation. It has the resources, land, transportation, people, human capital, but I think the state lacks the interest. I also believe that city and regional leaders lack seriously vision for here. But if the state stepped up to the plate, I know the city would follow.

Massachusetts should be looking at making Springield a lynchpin between the Boston and New York Metros. Notwithstanding the fact it's almost equidistant between the two.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:30 AM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
11,355 posts, read 19,921,129 times
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I'm short on time, but I find that the whole "being ignored" complaint is often overblown and inaccurate. I grew up on the South Coast near Fall River and New Bedford. The residents of this area often maligned the state for "ignoring" them just like Western Mass. As others have replied here, the fact is that metro Boston is the population and economic center of the state. That area needs and deserves the most money.

Still, I often found that a lot of the failure of my region (can't say that it's the same for Western MA, but it's probably similar) fell on the local politicians who failed to secure available money from the state and federal levels. There's certainly some favoritism, but local elected officials are there to benefit your section of the state. Too often, they fail to do their jobs. The South Coast has recently done a better job with electing people willing to work for their region (particularly New Bedford). The result is that more money is being spent there because these local politicians know how to get it.

I've always felt that the local politicians were more to blame in any shortcoming in terms of obtaining needed monies than those on a state or federal level. Not always, but most of the time.
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:25 PM
miu
 
Location: MA/NH
17,683 posts, read 38,584,723 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by western mass and love it View Post
I know there are talks of a Springfield-Hartford -new haven line,but what about the rest of the region.Noho,greenfield,pittsfield,amherst and umass and all the burbs around springfield(like westfield,west springfield,agawam,holyoke,chicopee,and so on.)I think we need to start to do something in this region to help jump start our infrastructure.It would be more inticing for business to come here. it would help reduce our reliance on cars and also help open up the region.I lived in the D.C. area for 6 years and i never drove my car during the work week.i would walk about 1/2 mile to the nearest metro station and then walk about 6 blocks to work,stress free mind you.i just think we need to step up to the modern age and start getting serious about uplifting western mass.

BTW i grew up in west side and to all the springfield haters around here yes i agree it is not nirvana,but it is not hades either.i've never been robbed .beaten,shot at,car jacked had my house broken into or anything in springfield.
I don't think that the population in Western MA is dense enough to warrant building a commuter rail system around Springfield at this point. Sure it would be convenient for many, but considering the potential number of customers that it would have, the cost to the public to use it would be way too high. Even the MBTA is running in the red, and we have much greater numbers of people using it than a Springfield area transit system would have.

Perhaps starting off with a public transit system of just buses would be a good start to test the waters.

Otherwise, much of the appeal of Western MA is that it's more rural than in the greater Boston area.

BTW what would you be willing to pay to use a commuter train system in Western MA? And how often and what hours would you expect from its schedule? Just a Monday through Friday rush hour timetable?
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:32 PM
 
Location: North Adams, MA
746 posts, read 3,399,504 times
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I live in the Berkshires, and agree that there is not the critical mass to justify a commuter rail system to Boston from Springfield.

The suggestion of more bus service is well taken, especially since Peter Pan and Bonanza which have a regional monopoly engage in the most serious restraint of trade practices to keep others from entering the market.

Currently it takes 7 hours door to door from North Adams, MA to downtown Boston using the local BRTA to get to their stop at Pittsfield. Then there is a change in Springfield, and often a long wait. Then the stops in Springfield, Worcester, etc. and finally Boston. What an ordeal. The route to New York City is even worse, stopping in every small Connecticut village along the way.

Recently Road Rabbit Express tried a direct service between Northampton/Amherst and Cambridge and Peter Pan immediately had them shut down until the could get permission from every town along the route to allow the service, no matter that they used the Mass. Pike.

When the North Adams to Boston Bus operator went out of business a couple of decades ago, another one was soon started, but Peter Pan managed to get a couple of the towns to refuse permission and so it was stopped. All travel has to go via Peter Pan, or by car.

This is a case of not allowing natural growth to occur, and has held down the economic growth of Western Massachusetts so one bus company can profit.

Until there is enough public outcry, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to improve the public transportation picture. And if you want to see just how dismal it is, visit the wretched bus station they use as home base in Springfield. It is disgusting, and a testament to just how poorly the public is served by a monopoly.
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Old 03-26-2010, 09:44 AM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
11,355 posts, read 19,921,129 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miu View Post
I don't think that the population in Western MA is dense enough to warrant building a commuter rail system around Springfield at this point.... Even the MBTA is running in the red, and we have much greater numbers of people using it than a Springfield area transit system would have.

Perhaps starting off with a public transit system of just buses would be a good start to test the waters.
miu, I don't think anyone is suggesting that the state build an entire commuter rail network around Springfield. The metro area isn't large enough or dense enough to warrant it's own extensive rail network (possibly light rail in the urban core, but that's another story). What Springfield COULD benefit from is a high speed connection to Boston. Springfield is far from Boston but a high speed rail link (something that cruises even in the 90-120mph range... really only moderately high speed like Acela) could be incredibly beneficial to the area. Also a connection to New York would help.

Of course the MBTA is running in the red. It's not (by any means) a model of an efficiently run agency, but I'd ask you to find me a transit agency turning a profit anywhere in the U.S. (there are none). Outside of a number of transit lines in Japan and a small handful in Europe, ALL transit agencies are subsidized by government agencies running in the red. The reason they do this is because there is a payoff indirectly. Transit lines (mostly rail, and light rail... buses don't have the same effect) spur significant economic development and that's where the payoff is. If it costs (throwing an arbitrary number out there) $13 Million per year to operate high speed service from Boston-Springfield, but that transit line spurs a $150 Million development near the station (and the resulting tax dollars), it's considered a win even though the MBTA is spending $13 Million to operate the service and not taking in anywhere NEAR that in ticketing revenues. Again, only a small handful of agencies in the world turn a profit in ridership revenue and they are special instances. You CAN build rail so efficiently that it becomes profitable (then you sell it to private entities who continue to run it) like some European and Japanese lines, but we don't let our gov't build like that here so it won't happen (and that's another topic entirely, anyway).

This tends to be where people draw a disconnect. People see that it costs a transit agency millions to operate their trains, but don't see an inflow of revenue that's even close to matching those expenses. You can't look at it like a real business. In the U.S., if you wanted to make a profit on public transit, you'd have to raise ticket prices by astounding amounts. If you did that, ridership would sharply decline and you'd be worse off than you were before. No, the price is kept low (only to off-set costs a little bit) so that ridership remains high. High ridership means a large concentration of people using the stations ( a concentrated area) thus spurring development. The development and resulting annual income (tax money) is the payoff for public transit which is why it's O.K. that they run in the red.

You can see examples of this working all over MA. Porter and Davis Squares were significantly helped by the Red Line. Many sections of Brookline and Newton are the beneficiaries of the Green Line in terms of an influx of business. There's a lot of money invested in Jackson Square near the orange line that we should see off the ground in the next few years. Lowell, Worcester, Haverhill, etc, have all seen significant redevelopment as a result of having these commuter rail lines. Springfield would benefit too from high speed service and THAT's where the payoff is.

Finally, a bus system just can't be used as a measure for how well trains would work. Trains hold hundreds more passengers than each bus. Trains tracks (while not perfect) allow for much more reliability and consistency in terms of being on-time than buses. Trains are cleaner than buses (if you look at emissions per passenger). And as I said above, trains are the drivers for economic growth that buses simply aren't. Springfield and the Pioneer Valley may benefit from better bus service, but it's hardly a substitute or "trial" for rail. It's different entirely.
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