clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Should developers in the Boston area subsidize additional mass transit?

Builders have long underwritten transportation improvements or upgrades—now some say that’s transferrable to operations

A subway train leaving a station as viewed from the top of the train. Boston Globe via Getty Images

The developers behind at least two major projects in the Boston area—the ongoing 20-acre Hood Park redevelopment in Charlestown and XMBLY, a 1.9 million-square-foot office campus in Somerville—are chipping in funding for more public transit.

In the case of Hood Park, it’s enough money to ensure an extra Orange Line train in and out of nearby Sullivan Square during early afternoon rush hour. At XMBLY, it’s to help boost service at the nearby Assembly stop on the same Orange Line.

These moves, coupled with the recent high-profile travails of the T, have some asking whether more developers should fund more of the actual nuts-and-bolts of mass transit operation in the region.

Developers have long ponied up funding to improve or to upgrade transportation infrastructure. Witness the commitments at Back Bay Station, where a forest of towers is going up. Or at North Station, where the massive Hub on Causeway development has included upgrades such as a new station entrance and a new pedestrian tunnel.

But money from private developers for public trains, buses, ferries, etc., is a relatively new phenomenon. As the Globe’s Tim Logan notes, it got a boost from Wynn Resorts’ commitment to funding mass transit operations to ferry (literally in some cases) people to and from its recently opened Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett.

There is also the sheer amount of new development itself that has some suggesting that developers put in for operations that will end up servicing their condos, apartments, offices, etc.

Others, though, worry that it’s a slippery slope to privately funded public transit in general—much as much of the public space in the Boston region is privately owned and operated—and that the T needs a lot more in fixing than can be found in one or two extra trains a day.