At Monday night’s Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association (JPNA) meeting, Daniel Mueller of the MBTA laid out the T’s plan to cut service on the Blue Line, a move that was immediately publicly rebuked by Rep. Adrian Madaro.
Mueller told JPNA members at Monday’s meeting that the T’s ‘Forging Ahead’ plan would reduce weekday and Saturday service on the Blue Line by one hour. The Blue Line would now run from 5 a.m. to midnight instead of 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays. Sunday service will operate from 6 a.m. to midnight instead of 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
The T, explained Mueller, will also reduce peak frequency by 20 percent and reduce off-peak frequency by an additional 20 percent on the Blue Line, as well as the other MBTA rapid transit lines.
Mueller said the Blue Line is operating at about 24 percent of its pre-COVID level.
“As a result of the decline in ridership that is similarly impacting transit agencies across the country, the MBTA is now only transporting 330,000 trips on an average weekday – but is continuing to run the same high levels of service as it ran to serve 1.26 million daily trips prior to the pandemic, an unsustainable level of service delivery,” he said.
Rep. Madaro said Tuesday that the proposed service cuts to the MBTA are very concerning.
“At a time during the COVID-19 pandemic when we are encouraging riders to distance on transit, less frequent service will result in more crowding, putting at risk the many frontline and essential workers who have no other option than to take the T,” said Madaro. “Public transit is indispensable, and it will be critical to Massachusetts as we strive to recover from the economic impact of this global emergency. The MBTA needs stable, reliable funding. We cannot expect the T to rely on ridership revenue during a global pandemic when ridership is down. Relying on ridership revenue creates a vicious cycle where falling ridership, and thus revenues, beget service cuts, which beget further falling ridership.”
The plan, said Madaro, severely hampers the T’s ability to serve essential workers and to be a driving force in Massachusetts’ economic recovery from this pandemic.
“The Transportation Revenue Bill that the House passed in February would provide the MBTA with robust funding, and I will continue to advocate for this much-needed revenue,” said Madaro. “I want to thank the many tireless T employees and administrators who have worked hard to continue serving T communities during the COVID emergency, and who have done their best to keep the T operating with the funding and resources at their disposal. We must empower the T to continue to serve riders and workers across Greater Boston.”
In addition to the JPNA meeting, the MBTA will be holding a number of public meetings to discuss proposed service cuts with communities and solicit feedback. The Boston meeting will be held online this Saturday, November 14, at 1pm. For details about this meeting and to register for it at www.mbta.com/events/2020-11-14/forging-ahead-virtual-public-meeting-boston-and-milton-region-3.
“As always, I will continue to push for the most robust service possible for East Boston and our essential workers who rely on the Blue Line, the Bus, and the Silver Line during the pandemic,” said Madaro.
In a statement, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said, “COVID-19 has had a significant impact on ridership and the MBTA is releasing these proposed changes to adjust to the realities created by COVID-19, while protecting service for those who depend on it most. I want to reassure our riders that these service changes are not permanent, do not include any fare changes, and will not take effect immediately. We are carrying out a comprehensive outreach process and encourage all members of the public to provide comments and feedback, as we want to hear from riders to help us identify and protect the services that support transit-critical populations and communities.”