Fund, Fix, and Free the T! Boston DSA statement on T closure

Aug 19, 2022 | Electoral, PEWG blog

Painting credit: @Lizzie Rutberg

Today, in an unprecedented and historic move, Governor Charlie Baker’s MBTA will shut down the entire Orange Line for thirty days of emergency maintenance. This, the severs a vital transit artery for hundreds of thousands of greater Boston residents, and forces riders to pay the price for decades of disinvestment from public transportation by corrupt politicians from both parties. The T closure will snarl traffic, cut people off from whole neighborhoods, make it more difficult to get to work, and take away time that people can spend with their families. 

The Boston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America condemns the Massachusetts political establishment’s abandonment of the T. We stand in solidarity with our neighbors and fellow commuters, the riders and frontline T workers who will bear the brunt of this crisis.

Painting credit: @Lizzie Rutberg

The T is falling apart. For the past decade, delays, derailments, service cuts, garages collapsing, unstable tunnels, leaking cars, rusted-out stairways, fires in tunnels and across bridges, and tragic and preventable deaths have undermined trust in the political institutions that are tasked with managing it for the public good. This doesn’t have to be the case – the T once stood as a point of pride for the city and its residents, a symbol of progress, and we must work to get there again. 

Yet the collapse of the T was not caused by mere governmental incompetence, or an inevitable failure of public institutions. It’s the result of years of hard work by politicians like Charlie Baker and leaders in the Massachusetts legislature to undermine those public institutions. We condemn the failure of elected leadership and their abandonment of the public good that is mass public transit. We appreciate the legislature’s $400 million appropriation for the T in a recent transportation bond bill, although bond bills still leave a lot of the power in the hands of the Governor whether the money is even spent. We call for this full amount to be appropriated as fast as possible. But this is not enough. The T’s debt exceeds $8 billion, requiring a serious commitment to long-term funding from the state. 

We call:

For the legislature to come back into session to forgive the T’s unjust, inherited debt and create a dedicated, long-term sustainable source of funding for the T. In solidarity with Senator Markey, Representative Pressley, and others, for Governor Baker to make the MBTA’s entire system free during the Orange and Green Line extension shutdowns. For cities along the Orange and Green Line shuttle routes to install temporary protected bus and bike lanes so that commuters and residents utilizing alternate modes of transportation can travel safely, as we know the streets are not completely safe for non-car uses without these measures. For Maura Healey, the presumptive next Governor of Massachusetts, to resist attempts to privatize the T and undermine its unionized workforce, who work every day to protect commuters and deliver a public good, and to appoint a Secretary of Transportation with experience. For voters to vote yes on 1, the Fair Share amendment, this November to fund the T in a more comprehensive way. For DSA members and interested readers, to join us in canvassing at Haymarket station TODAY at 5 pm to circulate these calls to action with commuters! 

Resist privatization! Fund, Fix, and Free the T! 

Boston DSA is the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America for the Greater Boston area. We are an activist organization — not a political party — that works against oppression in its many forms. DSA’s members are building mass movements for social change while establishing an openly socialist presence in communities and politics in the Greater Boston Area, from the South Shore to the Merrimack Valley