US Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Ayanna Pressley say the entire MBTA system should be fare-free during the month-long planned shutdown of the Orange Line for maintenance reasons.
“The Baker Administration and the MBTA’s decision to shut down the entirety of the Orange Line for an entire month is devastating, especially for the Black, brown, disabled, low-income, and other marginalized communities who depend on the Orange Line to get to work, school, the grocery store, and access other critical services,” the two federal lawmakers said in a joint statement issued Thursday.
“This disruptive decision is yet another consequence of the historic underinvestment and mismanagement of the T, and it is shameful for the first public transportation system in the country to be forced into decisions like this,” they added. “Riders should not be forced to carry the burden.”
Making the MBTA fare-free during the shutdown of the Orange Line, which runs from Aug. 19 to Sept. 18, would “mitigate the impact of this harmful shutdown” as well as rising inflation, Pressley and Markey argued.
The state can afford it due to federal relief through Congressional appropriations, they contend.
State officials say the month-long shutdown will help the system avoid five years of weekend and evening-only closures.
Asked about the Markey-Pressley statement, a spokesman for the public transit agency said, “The MBTA understands and appreciates that this diversion will be an inconvenience for commuters, and that's why the T is working closely with its municipal partners to develop viable and effective alternatives. No fares will be collected on the shuttle buses that will operate throughout the length of the diversion.”
For commuter rail routes that connect to the Orange Line, customers would be able to show a CharlieCard or other MBTA pass to the conductor to signal they are seeking to avoid the Orange Line disruption.
Material from State House News Service was used in this report. This post was updated to clarify what customers can do on the commuter rail during the Orange Line disruption.