Editorial: The mobile City Hall

December 14, 2012
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Having failed to move City Hall to the Waterfront, the mayor has instead introduced a “mobile City Hall” in the form of a truck that will drive around the City to offer basic license applications and parking ticket pay-ups.

It’s an interesting experiment. Time will tell if it is more than a novelty and an ersatz campaign truck with the mayor’s name prominently emblazoned on the side. It could be handy for people who don’t want to travel all the way downtown during a weekday. But it will have to make an awful lot of stops to serve a significant number of people.

There is also the potential embarrassment factor of this becoming the first “City Hall” to get into a fender-bender or get a traffic ticket of its own. And the costs are murky. (The idea is inspired by food trucks; maybe they could sell lobster rolls or T-shirts along with dog licenses to cover some costs.)

City Hall certainly needs to improve customer service. We would prefer to see resources devoted to rebuilding its creaky website, most of which fossilized at the stage of offering PDF forms to print out and snail-mail in. Better online services would be an efficient way to help the vast majority of Bostonians without them even leaving home or work.

But rebuilding a website is a lot more expensive than repainting a SWAT truck. The government coming to the people is generally a good thing. We’ll see how it handles on the test drive.

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