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Keller @ Large: Can Anyone Save Transportation Department?

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Richard Davey, left, with Gov. Deval Patrick and Jeffrey Mullan, right at the State House news conference Thursday. (photo by Diana Perez)

Richard Davey, left, with Gov. Deval Patrick and Jeffrey Mullan, right at the State House news conference Thursday. (photo by Diana Perez)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – If you think body language can be very revealing, as I do, you would have had a field day watching the video of Governor Patrick yesterday introducing Richard Davey as the state’s new secretary of transportation, succeeding Jeff Mullan.

Both men looked about as comfortable as a T commuter who can’t afford to be late to work again.

And they fidgeted uneasily as the governor mouthed platitudes about their commitment to safety and customer service, goals they support, no doubt, but also promises they know the system really can’t keep.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:


After watching this bit of awkward political theater, I went over to South Station to talk with commuters about their level of confidence in state government’s transportation management, which for most people is apparently hovering near zero.

Watch Jon’s WBZ-TV report

This is less a comment on Mullan, a well-respected veteran manager, and Davey, who’s done the best he could as MBTA boss, than it is on the dismaying mismanagement of state politicians going back decades that has us locked into a downward spiral of crumbling tunnel lights and commutes from hell.

Most of you already know the basics of this story.

A decision was made more than 20 years ago to bet our transportation future on the Big Dig, which was going to solve our problems for just a couple of billion dollars.

More than $20 billion later, the bungled project is the source of most of our financial problems.

And make no mistake, money is – as always – the bottom line.

We don’t have enough of it to properly fix our roads and bridges and run our trains.

And we can’t get more of it because of the self-serving political cowardice of a string of pols including the current governor who refused to make a sustained public case for higher T fares and tolls.

So now we’re all used to paying less than other comparable cities for transit, and guess what?

You get what you pay for.

And no, rearranging the deck chairs at the transportation building won’t make much, if any, difference, no matter what the spin is from Beacon Hill.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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