The proposed changes would strongly impact essential workers
Community members and labor groups participated in a rally to oppose MBTA service cuts, on November 19. The protest, organized by Public Transit Public Good, began at Summer Street in the Seaport District and moved to the State Transportation Building. Speakers addressed the importance of having accessible, affordable public transportation and the tens of thousands of people who depend upon the T to get to work, school, and other destinations.
“Covid-19 has reshaped our daily lives,” said executive director of Community Labor United Lee Matsueda, in a press release. “Bus and train services remain critical for the riders who take hundreds of thousands of trips every day, and especially the essential workers who have kept our communities running during this pandemic. Now, more than ever, we need a transit system that works for all of us, and that means a safe, affordable, and accessible service.”
The MBTA service cuts that were announced last week include an elimination of commuter rail service on weekends and after 9 p.m. on weeknights, ending T service after midnight, and a consolidation of several bus routes. During the rally, many who spoke recognized the challenges that these changes pose to front line workers, low-income residents, immigrants, and people of color. Susan Backstrom, a member of GreenRoots, said that the cuts may cause individuals to purchase cars, which will lead to environmental pollution. An executive board member of Carmen’s Union Local 589, Karen Maxwell, spoke to the need for a public transportation system that works for all communities.
“Transit is truly a great equalizer,” said Maxwell. “People from all neighborhoods, backgrounds, and walks of life use it to get to where they need to go. Ensuring that we have a system that is safe, reliable, dependable, and affordable guarantees that everyone has an opportunity to thrive.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.