I encourage the Bourne Board of Selectmen to reject the shortsighted proposal put before them recently to kill efforts to bring commuter rail to Buzzards Bay by pulling out of the MBTA for the sake of miniscule savings to the town budget.
Such a move would be harmful to the future vibrancy of the town’s population and the young people growing up in Bourne today. It would also be poorly timed given that it appears the state is poised to spend billions of dollars to improve the MBTA system given recent service problems and concerns about traffic congestion in the Boston area.
Easy access to the Boston job market is critical to the future health of Bourne’s population. Like all of Cape Cod, Bourne’s population of young people is in decline. There are multiple reasons why this is true, but a major factor is the cost of housing relative to the income that can be earned locally.
The fact is jobs in metro Boston pay much better, and more than ever, future Bourne residents will need to work there to be able to afford to buy a home in town. I am most concerned about young people like my children and their friends who grew up in Bourne.
The children who I once coached in soccer, chaperoned on middle school field trips or watched perform on the Bourne High School stage are now young adults attending college, serving in the military or starting out in the workforce. I want all of them to have the option to live locally if they so choose as they establish careers and families.
I have no expectation that commuter rail service will begin running out of Buzzards Bay this time next year. But it would be foolish to pull out now. If you pay attention to what’s happening in the State House, it is evident there is strong political support for major improvements to the state’s public transportation system, including commuter rail. The only question appears to be how much will be spent. Governor Baker has proposed an $18 billion transportation bond bill that includes funding for commuter rail improvements, while legislative leaders are talking about spending even more money on transportation.
Bourne must be at the table when these dollars are being spent and not walk away for the sake of measly, short-term savings.
The $40,000 that would be saved represents .06 percent of the town’s $68.6 million annual budget. That’s the equivalent of cutting $34 from the annual family budget in a town where the median household income is $58,000. For many, that’s less than one tank of gas over the course of a year.
Let’s not damage the prospects of Bourne’s young people and the town’s future population for the sake of such meager savings.
David J. McPherson