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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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March 4, 2024
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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Time of Transformation Not Over Yet for MBTA

In recent months, the MBTA has gone through a period of change and harsh counteractions to tackle a large gap in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Within only a few months, the MBTA control board has decided on hiking fares by around 9.3 percent (starting in July 2016) and on dropping the two-year-old weekend late-night T service completely in March earlier this year. Furthermore, the much awaited renovations of Government Center Station was also only recently completed, and the station was re-opened around two months ago.

However, this era of transformation appears to not be quite over yet. Currently, the MBTA leadership is still discussing a possible Green Line extension into Cambridge and Somerville with seven new stations. Last year, the proposed project came to an abrupt halt after the predicted budget exceeded the initial $2 billion. As the state and federal government are neither willing to contribute more than that amount, the rest has to be provided from other institutions.  However, in the past weeks, officials voiced the urgency for the realization of this project in order to make the Cambridge and Somerville area more accessible to public transport.

In an official statement on May 5, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone and City Manager of Cambridge Richard Rossi asserted that both cities were willing to contribute financially in order to close the budget gap. If the proposed contributions are approved by the the boards and city councils, Somerville would offer $50 million and Cambridge $25 million in order to “deliver meaningful public safety and quality-of-life benefits for our residents.” On Monday, the new overhauled and decreased budget for the extension project will be revealed, but it is expected to still exceed the $2 billion.

Another major step that the MBTA is considering is the reintroduction of a late-night service. However, due to the high cost of the train service, the alternative would be a nightly bus schedule. This proposed new service would only include selected bus lines, but run all seven days of the week. While the three advocates, Ari Ofsevit, Jeremy Mendelson, and James Aloisi, suggested a cost of only around $1 million per year, MBTA officials expect the expenses to be much higher than that, up to $6 million.

However, since the plan was openly published in the Commonwealth Magazine in late March, the MBTA and the advocates have discussed a revised idea of introducing a late-night bus service only on weekends or additional weekend and early-morning busses, which would reduce the cost dramatically. It was also suggested that the T could charge a higher fee for late-night service or cut down the number of vehicles. So far, the MBTA has not made a decision yet or brought a proposal in front of the board. In their initial proposal, the advocates emphasized the importance of this plan because it “is designed to be affordable and robust, serving real needs across the region, responding to social and economic inequities, and doing so without relying on the private sector.”

Amid all these difficulties and proposed changes, there has been some good news for the MBTA. In a survey published on research website AllTransit, Boston ranks third in the quality of public transportation, only topped by New York and San Francisco. The MBTA’s score of 9.4 (out of 10) was calculated from data regarding citizens’ accessibility to workplace by public transport, proximity of public transport to home, average time of commute, the transit quality, and environmental friendliness.