On The Road (but would prefer tracks)

Hudson

What do Jack Kerouac‘s semi-autobiographically journey in On The Road and at least some of the modern riders of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority have in common?

Both are traveling in 1940’s transportation technology.

OnTheRoadOn November 16th, former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis drove that point home by traveling from Mattapan through Boston to Lowell in a 1949 Hudson, believed to be the same model as featured in Kerouac’s novel. Of course while Kerouac traveled across country in the 50’s, Dukakis’s road trip was taking place over 60 years later.

The symbolism was clear.  Automobile drivers would never opt for 1940’s era transportation methods, why should T riders be saddled with such outdated options?

In recent years, Governor Dukakis has been championing the completion of the long-planned North-South Rail Link. Earlier this year, he spoke at a Lowell Town Hall meeting hosted by Mayor William Samaras about the importance of the project and the benefits it would bring to Lowell.

The antique car belongs to best-selling author and transportation enthusiast Dan McNichol, who is also a member of the North South Rail Link working group–and no, the Kerouac connection was not a coincidence. McNichol counts the Lowell-born author among his favorites.

In addition to supporting the NSRL, the publicity campaign on November 16th had a broader basic message: the importance of investing in Massachusetts’s transit infrastructure.

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Governor Dukakis interviewed by WCAP’s Jack Baldwin

The afternoon drive culminated with a trip to Merrimack Repertory Theatre where radio station WCAP (a prominent local supporter of the Rail Link) was hosting a remote location broadcast.

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Governor Dukakis meets MRT executive director Bonnie Butkas

NSRL advocates have said the mid-November visit won’t be the last time that the group visits Lowell to talk about the project.  So keep your eyes peeled for the next time a 1949 Hudson makes its way through the city.

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