We need to build the Green Line Extension

October 23, 2015

The Green Line Extension (GLX) is a long-planned project that will provide transit service to tens of thousands of daily riders, with major benefits to the economy, environment, and congestion, and with substantial funding from the federal government. The debate should not be about whether to build GLX, but how. 

The latest GLX cost proposals are too high. Appropriately, Governor Baker’s MBTA has retained a team of consultants to understand why costs have increased so much, and what the next steps should be. We applaud Governor Baker, Secretary Pollack, and the MBTA for taking a comprehensive look at the state’s options.

As we commented in September, T4MA strongly supports GLX and acknowledges that scaling down station designs and other actions may be needed. But cancelling the project—or failing to complete the full extension to Union Square and Route 16—would undermine the future of the region’s economy.

While forward-looking regions around the US and the world are fixing old transit systems and building new capacity, Massachusetts is still wrestling with a false choice about maintenance vs. expansion. 

Let’s be clear: we must simultaneously fix our T, and build what we need for tomorrow. Our economy depends on a world-class transit system. Just repairing our existing rails and transit will not meet customer demand.

With that framework, Transportation for Massachusetts believes that GLX is essential and must be completed responsibly. This investment will benefit the region by increasing mobility, unlocking economic opportunity, and reducing vehicle miles traveled and congestion. The GLX is a legal mandate and it, and not other projects, will bring in $1 billion in federal funding.

Threats of abandoning the GLX send a message to federal funding authorities and investors around the world that we can’t invest in urgently needed transportation improvements. That is the wrong message at a time when we need more capacity and a modernized transit system.  

Leading regions get it: world-class transit is key to a modern economy. The GLX is a test of the Baker Administration’s leadership and management: are we willing to stand for what is right, and can we responsibly steward public funding for transportation?

The answer must be yes. We look forward to the next phase of the project resuming in 2016. 


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