March 18, 2021
Dear General Manager Poftak,
I am writing in regards to the MBTA service cuts that were implemented this past Sunday. Cutting MBTA services during this difficult time would be not only irresponsible but also detrimental to the public, especially the essential workers who rely on public transportation.
As we are all aware, many rely on MBTA services as an affordable way to commute throughout the greater Boston area. Cutting services will have a disproportionate impact on those who are already most vulnerable in our state, including low-income individuals and families. Specifically in Cambridge, service cuts will interrupt the following routes:
- Red and green line trains will decrease about 20 percent,
- The #1 bus will increase frequency during the midday on the weekdays and decrease the frequency during morning, afternoon, and evening.
- The #47 bus is canceled for short trips between central trips and will decrease weekday frequency.
- The #68 bus will be suspended and will be replaced with routes #64 and #69.
- The #70 bus will increase frequency during the weekday and decrease in the morning and afternoon.
- The #77 bus will decrease its frequency during the weekday and weekend.
- The #85 bus will suspend its service from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- The #96 bus will decrease its frequency during the weekday.
We know that this will also have devastating impacts on the entire state’s economy, and in many other communities who are seeing the reduction and elimination of services.
Photos have circulated that show riders crowded onto MBTA trains. With the MBTA cuts decreasing the services available to workers and limiting space on trains and busses, it raises concerns about whether the health and safety of the people who rely on public transportation is a priority to this administration. As we continue to navigate this pandemic, it is important for riders to have the ability to maintain proper social distancing on MBTA vehicles. This will be necessary for the foreseeable future as the state continues to work to vaccinate all residents.
While the administration is citing the fact that MBTA ridership is down, we must ensure that public transportation does not become less accessible to those who are still using it and relying on it. It does not make sense to expand our state’s re-opening to step one of phase four through increasing indoor dining capacity, opening entertainment venues, and re-opening schools while reducing the accessibility of transportation to and from those places. This decision shows an ignorance in decision-making that will hurt our essential workforce and most vulnerable residents.
Additionally, if you are truly optimistic about the future, you must invest in public transportation to provide for our state’s economy. Industries across the state rely on public transit to get their workforce to and from job sites and offices. With the continued reopening, we must ensure that we have the strongest public transit in place to provide for reopening businesses and commuters.
These cuts are an issue of economic justice, racial justice and opportunity for our state’s businesses. We also know that if we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint, accessible, affordable, and reliable public transportation must play a robust role in reducing emissions.
Riders should not worry about whether they can get to work using public transportation. They should not have to worry about whether they'll have to use a ride-sharing service to compensate for the lack of easy access to public transportation. They should not have to anticipate yet another public transportation issue prolonging their commute. Our residents, our guests, and all of our public transit users deserve better.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will have an estimated $800 million to $1 billion allocated to public transportation. This is not the time to limit services-- this is the time to focus on maintaining and improving the existing infrastructure using these federal funds.
I appreciate your time and consideration.
State Representative - 25th Middlesex
House Chair, Joint Committee on Public Health