Rep. Adrian Madaro was back before the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board last week to advocate for East Boston’s transportation needs.
“Lately I have felt like a frequent flier at these meetings,” said Madaro, who has appeared several times at the board’s meeting over the past year. “Some of you may regard me as a broken record. But I would contend that it is not me, but rather the public transportation system across Massachusetts, which is broken.”
Several power outages over the summer on the MBTA’s Blue Line that runs through Eastie left thousands of commuters stranded during the rush hour commute. One incident in August forced riders on a broken-down train to hike back to Maverick Station from the tunnel that connects Maverick to Aquarium Station downtown.
“First, I want to discuss necessary improvements to the Blue Line through the Capital Improvement Project,” said Madaro. “This summer we saw the Blue Line fail twice, forcing hours of delays, halted trains, and an evacuation onto the tracks in the tunnel under the harbor. With the current levels of congestion due to botched attempts at reconfiguring the Sumner Tunnel toll plaza, shuttle buzzes are a woefully ineffective backup.”
Madaro said the Blue Line must be retrofitted with new signals and upgraded power. These improvements, he argues, will increase the efficiency of the line, improve service to handle current and increasing capacity, and ensure that delays and track issues become frequent.
On The Red-Blue Connector project Madaro said the line connector is a commitment outlined through the Big Dig Memorandum of Understanding in 1990, but nearly 30 years later, this commitment remains unfulfilled.
“The Connector was meant to mitigate increased automobile use and reduce vehicular congestion on the streets of East Boston,” said Madaro. “In fact, due to the botched reconfiguration of the Sumner Tunnel, traffic congestion is worse today in East Boston than it has been in decades. It would be a valuable economic link between the North shore and economically important areas. The lack of a direct rail connection divorces East Boston folks from job rich areas in Kendall and the Seaport.”
The Red-Blue Connector would also decrease the congestion found at Park Street and Government Center stations caused by a time-consuming transfer, which acts as a hassle and deterrent to commuters and travelers alike.
As part of the MBTA’s Focus 40 planning initiative that outlines the MBTA’s goals for the next 40 years the Red-Blue Connector was omitted and a plan to create a pedestrian connector was offered as an alternative.
“While the proposed pedestrian connector from State Street is not a bad idea, it does not go far enough, and it is not an equitable solution that will adequately serve populations along the Red- and Blue-Line corridors,” said Madaro. “The MBTA should not be focused on installing the pedestrian connector as a stopgap measure while continuously delaying a tangible commitment to planning and executing construction of the long-awaited rail connection.”