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Transportation is key to daily life and commerce in Massachusetts. But improvements are costly, and Governor-elect Charlie Baker will need to prioritize. Here, Globe Opinion writers offer him some advice.

Resist the highway mindset

In most US states, the transportation department mainly concerns itself with highways. A similar bias revealed itself locally this year, when MassDOT’s initial planning for a massive overhaul of the Mass. Pike in Allston made little provision for accompanying transit improvements. The omission was all the more striking because Governor Patrick’s transportation chief, Richard Davey, had managed the MBTA’s commuter rail contractor and then the MBTA itself. A Baker administration, with its political power base in the suburbs and exurbs, might have a stronger default orientation toward highways. That’s all the more reason to look consciously at how different modes of transportation complement each other — and how better transit infrastructure keeps people off the roads. — DANTE RAMOS— DANTE RAMOS

Use existing track

Charlie Baker raised eyebrows when he said he supported South Coast Rail, but he just needed to figure out how to pay for it. But instead of sweating mega-projects like the $2.3 billion South Coast Rail, Baker should rethink what transit expansion means and focus on projects that do more with less. One huge opportunity is in diesel multiple units — trains that look and act like trolleys but run on existing commuter rail tracks. The cars will soon transform Boston's Fairmount rail corridor into a rapid transit line. For a fraction of the cost of South Coast Rail, Massachusetts could buy a stack of DMUs and extend subway-like service to Lynn, Chelsea, Everett, Melrose, Roslindale, West Roxbury and Newton. We could engineer a huge transit expansion, without laying a foot of new track. — PAUL MCMORROW

Don’t forget maintenance

Politicians like to make their mark with grand transportation projects. But equally important is ensuring that the Commonwealth’s existing infrastructure is in good repair. Despite Governor Deval Patrick’s Accelerated Bridge Program, Massachusetts still has more than 400 bridges in need of work. On a smaller scale, cities and towns have roads that need patching, and the MBTA needs a slew of important maintenance work to ensure that subway and commuter rail lines are operating safely and efficiently. Baker needs to make these projects a priority. It’s not sexy, but repairing the state’s existing infrastructure might help more people in the long run than investing billions into a handful of flashy new train stations. — NOAH GUINEY— NOAH GUINEY

Consider new revenues

Boston is, at the moment, one of the world's hottest and most competitive cities. One reason is our advantage in mass transit, as rickety as the MBTA is. But that advantage could be gone quicker than you can say "ballot box." Just as Massachusetts voters passed a referendum to end the indexing of the gas tax to inflation — limiting funds the state uses to pay for roads, bridges, and mass transit — voters in Seattle, the Bay Area and other tech-friendly regions voted for major investments in transportation. Can Baker pivot from his support of the referendum and champion investments that help us keep up with our more visionary competitors? If he wants Massachusetts to remain a national economic engine, he must. — DERRICK Z. JACKSON

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A roundup of Globe Opinion writers' advice for Charlie Baker

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