As communities across Greater Boston feel the effects of the MBTA’s 30-day Orange Line shut down we the representatives of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA), with the support of the Coalition for an Equitable Economy, and the Asian Business Empowerment Council (ABEC) want to register our deep concern about the impact this shutdown will have on our community members, many of whom are Black and Asian residents that rely on the MBTA for transportation every day.
The pause of one of the MBTA’s most popular subway lines affects a vital corridor connecting Boston’s downtown area to predominantly Black neighborhoods, including Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Roxbury, and Mission Hill, as well as Asian workers and residents in Chinatown.
Unfortunately, MBTA safety and efficiency issues have plagued the transit system for years. Accidents, derailments, and disruptions put people’s lives and livelihoods at risk, while also eroding trust in the system and its leadership. We have not been reassured by the quality of the MBTA’s prior mitigation efforts and now its communications to riders about this new initiative. Non-English speakers were the last to learn about the shutdown and consequently there have been no efforts to provide translated signage or easy access to interpretation services in advance, making these communities face a monumental task just to plan their commutes. Riders deserve a firm commitment from the MBTA that Orange Line service will significantly improve after this unprecedented diversion.
The MBTA will be shutting down the Orange Line for 30 days beginning August 19 to accelerate needed major track and maintenance work. The shutdown will begin approximately 9 pm on August 19 through September 18 with service resuming on September 19. The MBTA said the 30 day shutdown will provide an opportunity to finish several projects five years faster than originally planned. That work includes track repair, tie replacement, concrete work, and more along the Southwest Corridor, which will improve reliability. Other projects include track replacement, upgrading signal systems, and station improvements.
It was the last streetcar, or was it? Stepping off the car at South and Custer streets that very early December morning certainly had a death-like feel to it. It was winter, it was cold, and it was dark as the door of the car closed behind me. I stepped onto the sidewalk and watched the two-car train of Presidential Conference Cars (PCCs as they were called) move off into the distance toward Forest Hills. As it rounded a curve in South Street heading to its final destination at Arborway, the sound of its wheels on the tracks echoed off the three-decker houses that framed its route on either side.
The MBTA is planning to update the modernize the Arborway Bus Yard to create a multi-level facility to accommodate more buses, and convert its entire fleet to electric buses. Currently, two MBTA-owned properties comprise the Arborway Bus Yard site (3600 Washington St. and 500 Arborway) with a total 18.85 acres. Part of the MBTA Bus Facility Modernization Program also includes transferring eight acres of land (Pole Yard) on the site to the city to create affordable housing, according to MBTA documents. The plan is just in the beginning phases, as the MBTA's timeline calls for a public process from next year through 2024, with targeted construction in 2024, and being completed in 2027.
To support COVID-19 recovery, Boston's government is offering preloaded MBTA and Bluebikes passes to employees in five Main Street Districts, including Three Squares Main Street in Jamaica Plain. The first 1,000 employees who sign up for the program from Three Squares, Mission Hill, Nubian Square, East Boston, and Fields Corner, will receive the passes. This is a pilot program being phased in during the next two months. Some applicants will be selected to receive an MBTA pass with a full $60 right away, and others will get two cards after four weeks values that add up to $60, according to the city's website. Bluebikes pass-holders will be able to take as many trips as they want during the two-month period.