A Green New Deal for Cambridge: Fare-Free Public Transit Spotlight — Policy Paper
As we head into the final stretch of the campaign, we wanted to provide deeper dives into some of the policy ideas in my platform. This policy paper provides a deeper look at one of the boldest elements of our Cambridge Green New Deal proposal to tackle climate change, economic inequality, and racial inequities at the same time: fare-free buses and subways for Cambridge residents by 2025.
The looming climate catastrophe makes the rapid transition away from fossil fuels an existential and moral imperative if we hope to maintain a peaceful and prosperous world for ourselves and our descendants. In its October 2018 report “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) painted a dire picture of a world warmed past 2°C—an unprecedented refugee crisis of millions forced to flee from the world’s most storm-ravaged regions, a loss of more than $500 billion from the United States’ economic output by 2100, the likely destruction of over $100 trillion in coastal infrastructure and real estate across the country, and the irreversible die-off of entire ecosystems in a new mass extinction event.
In this report, scientists on the IPCC warned us that we have until 2030 to cut global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 to 60 percent. This will require not just a drastic transformation of energy policy, but also a fundamental reordering of who and what we prioritize in our economy. We live in an era of rapidly worsening income inequality, where the poorest among us are the most at-risk of suffering from the effects of climate change.
We can even see this perfect storm converging over Cambridge—we have more millionaires living here than ever, yet also a rising number of unhoused neighbors whose lives are threatened by winter storms that increase in severity with every year of unmitigated climate change. This is a moral outrage that must be stopped.
But it’s not just a moral outrage—it’s also a political crisis. It is the fault of short-sighted leadership who, at the insistence of their fossil fuel-industry donors, built sprawling cities and suburbs only traversable by carand who prioritized tax cuts for corporate donors over fully funding public transit options like expanded subways and regional rail. This kind of failed leadership is why the T line that runs through the heart of our city is rusting away and getting slower every year, and why our streets are snarled with some of the worst traffic in the nation.
It might seem like this mess is too big to fix, especially when the federal government is controlled by a corrupt billionaire who pretends climate change doesn’t even exist. Fortunately, that hopelessness could not be further from the truth.