The MBTA has been having a hell of a summer with problems that seem to manifest all over the rapid transit system.
East Boston hasn’t been immune to the T’s deteriorating infrastructure and last Wednesday an outage on the Blue Line caused a commuter nightmare.
The Blue Line was closed from Maverick station to Wonderland in Revere with shuttle buses running from Maverick to Aquarium Station. Again, riders were forced to depart a train stuck in the tunnel between Maverick and Aquarium and walk the dark tracks to a station.
The addition of shuttle buses and hundreds of stranded commuters calling for Uber or Lyft led to some of the worst gridlock Eastie commuters has seen in months.
Residents have already been dealing with unacceptable daily traffic issues since MassDOT revamped the Sumner Tunnel toll plaza so with the addition of T buses and hundreds of extra ride-share vehicles on the streets that made trying to get around the neighborhood unbearable.
By 8:30 a.m. last Wednesday residents were reporting delays of up to an hour to get anywhere in the neighborhood or to the mouth of the tunnel.
Videos posted online showed every major thoroughfare in Eastie like Bennington, Saratoga, Bremen, Meridian, and Chelsea streets backed up for several blocks with no cars moving in the bumper-to-bumper traffic.
“(I was) stuck driving downtown to drop off my kids at camp- what should have been 15 minutes on the Blue Line took almost two hours and she missed the first hour, so now I’ve wasted money in addition to my time,” said Allyson Simons. “You better believe I took the T survey today at MBTA.com/survey.”
Ed Bell said when he left his house a bit after 10 a.m. all the streets in the area of the Sumner/Callahan were gridlocked.
“Thoughtless, discourteous drivers (were) blocking intersections,” he said. “(There) were multiple cycle delays at the traffic lights. Then there was police action on Meridian between Maverick and Havre, and one officer stopping cars from going northbound. I called 3-1-1 and said we needed officers at the intersections of the streets to get the traffic moving again. It was a cluster.”
Rep. Adrian Madaro said the power failure on the Blue Line underscores the critical need to invest in public transit to make it more reliable and accessible.
“Disruptions like the one we experienced today are unacceptable and undermine public faith in the MBTA. East Boston is separated from the rest of the City by the Boston Harbor, which makes our community especially reliant on public transportation,” he said. “When the T breaks down, there are few alternatives residents have and people end up stranded on one side of the harbor. In addition to funding for necessary upgrades to make the Blue Line more reliable, today’s incident also highlights the need to have alternative public transit options, including bus rapid transit and a robust ferry service that’s accessible and affordable to all residents. Nor can we rely on rideshares like Uber and Lyft to bridge the gap. In addition to surge pricing, these vehicles clog our streets and make the short ride through the tunnel a long wait in traffic–including for those stuck on the MBTA shuttle buses. I’ve heard a lot of frustration and anger from folks today who were late to work, missed an appointment, or who were stranded by delays. I share in their frustration, and I am committed to continuing to prioritize these issues until we see results.”