State Sen. Will Brownsberger visited the Peterborough Senior Center on Sept. 10 to present what he’s been working on at the State House, as well as get feedback from the seniors about issues that are important to them.
Brownsberger said that the issue of transportation is at the “top of the list for many people,” and “we need to do better in this aspect.”
The MBTA fare increase has been on the forefront of people’s minds recently as many are upset that they have to pay more for what does not seem to be improved service. “I am increasingly interested in the issue of lowering fares,” Brownsberger said. He said that everybody’s pushing the T to spend more money, but Brownsberger said he believes giving the T more money in order to lower fares for passengers “might be the best way to use additional money for the T.” However, he still thinks that the issues with the deteriorating equipment need to be fixed first and foremost in order to increase reliability in service, as he said that there are parts in the T system that are over 100 years old.
“I think there is more that we can do to improve the system,” he said. He also talked about the improvements that are coming to the Green Line, as that is up next for improvements.”We’re going to see better reliability on the Green Line,” he said. He said that over the next 10-15 years, new Green Line trains will be rolled out, and carrying capacity on the Green Line will double. The new cars will be slightly longer and will have more passenger space inside them, as there will be less wheel space taking up room for passengers, which is a problem with the cars now.
Additionally, over the next five years, the city will see all new cars on the Red Line as well. Brownsberger made it clear that these types of overhauls take a lot of time to implement—the Red Line car replacement started back in the former Gov. Deval Patrick administration, he said.
One of the seniors commented that Uber and Lyft “are a big problem,” and seem to create a lot of congestion on already congested roads.
“We have put a lot of regulations in place,” Brownsberger said, adding that there needs to be stronger incentives for people to share rides when they use services like Uber and Lyft, in order to reduce the amount of one passenger rides taking up space on the road.
Another issue on the matter of transportation is the accessibility of certain MBTA stations. Several seniors said that there were issues with Symphony Station, including that it is not ADA compliant as there is no elevator and the signage is difficult to read.
Brownsberger said that this is something that is going to be addressed by the MBTA. “It’s not off the list; it’s definitely happening,” he said.
Aside from transportation, the issue of housing is “one of the hardest,” Brownsberger said, as it affects so many people. He said the issue is high on his list of things to address. He also said it goes hand in hand with transportation, as people need to get to and from where they need to go throughout the day, and then back to their homes.
One senior said she feels that people of color are not invited to the housing discussion. She said she would love to be able to secure a job, a home, and transportation, but has been met with pushback.
“We’re doing the best we can to address all of those, but obviously, we need to do more,” Brownsberger said. He said there are many people feeling “economic pain,” but “there is no doubt that is concentrated in people of color.” He said he would like to see a more progressive taxation to create more affordable housing in the city.
Other issues important to the Senator include the environment and making Massachusetts a leader on those issues, as well as education funding for the areas most in need. He is also working to put more resources into place for people coming out of the criminal justice system.
“I’m focused on what is of most concern to my constituents,” Brownsberger said. He told the seniors, “I really appreciate you taking the time to share what’s important to you. I want to hear your issues.”