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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

State of the State: T Closures? Prepare for a rough 2020, Boston commuters!

There is no pain more universal in the city of Boston than that of the delayed T. Whether ten minutes or an hour and a half, these delays make us late to school and, more crushingly, to bed at night. Our governor, Charlie Baker, has come up with a master plan to save us all, however. You’ve seen the hour long T delay: now, get ready for the MONTH LONG T DELAY!

If you take the Green Line on the C and E branches, you are the unlucky winner of this most inconvenient prize. The B and D branches of the Green Line will also see weekend diversions, as will the Red, Blue and Silver Lines, and the Franklin Line of the Commuter Rail. This comes as Governor Charlie Baker and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak ramp up an $8 billion T improvement package, in what is bound to resemble a very beneficial collective headache for those who depend on public transit and those who will be be annoyed by increased traffic from buses and commuters who opt to drive in (1).

When I first heard about this project, I was absolutely shocked. What could possibly justify taking two entire branches out of service for an entire month? However, I have come to grudgingly accept the state’s reasoning on this, as these infrastructure improvements will save us a whole eight years on the overall revamp of our state’s public transit system, and create a much more consistent, efficient T network. In reality, a closure that you have months to prepare for is better than one that jumps up on you the day of because some train jumped the tracks. It will also give riders much more peace of mind. Expect far fewer train derailments in the future, a change that should especially excite riders of the rollercoaster that is the Red Line, myself included. It’s a classic trade off situation: would you accept a month-long line closure to save you from eight years of inconvenience? I certainly would.

These closures come alongside a whole host of welcome changes to the T. Increasing fees for ride-hailing and increasing taxes on gas companies are all on the agenda for the state government, which should help to avoid fare hikes, despite massive infrastructure improvements. These sorts of changes will help people who already ride the T and hopefully bring in new riders. It would also encourage putting more cars on the tracks and increasing the T’s overall efficiency.

On the commuter rail, the state plans to build eighty new double decker passenger cars to increase capacity, and is looking at electrification over the next decade. These changes would make the ride home at night so much more comfortable. You might even be able to get a seat at JFK/UMass, and the changes will increase the speed of the trains so much that we may be able to get evening service.

These plans are all included in the state’s ambitious Focus 40 plan, a plan to drastically improve MBTA service by the year 2040. Especially pertinent to UMass Boston is the plan to have three minute service during peak hours on the Red Line (2).

Next year is going to be extremely inconvenient, but the future of the MBTA is starting to look bright. A better MBTA will mean lower greenhouse gas emissions, lower transportation costs, more convenient transit, a stronger economy, and more access to the city for suburban and western Massachusetts residents. Investment in the MBTA now is an investment for our lives in the future.

 

  1. https://www.necn.com/news/national-international/baker-officials-to-discuss-upcoming-mbta-work-service-disruptions/2228246/

  2. https://www.mbtafocus40.com/focus40theplan