What are commuters’ opinions about the current MBTA subways?

Photo Credit : Unsplash / Kelly Sikkema

By Sophie Jin
Boston University News Service

The MBTA’s yearly report proved that passengers on the MBTA have decreased since before the pandemic, and commuters have expressed concerns and problems about riding the subway.

According to the MBTA’s most recent data, on the average weekday in July 2022, 686,000 commuters took the MBTA. Of these commuters, 51% take the subway, 38% take the bus and the rest take another transportation service by the MBTA.  

There has been an uptick compared to the pandemic, as 327,000 commuters were riding the MBTA on an average week in January 2021 and 500,000 commuters in January 2022.

Though more commuters are now riding MBTA’s subways, the analytics show that the number significantly decreased from before the pandemic, which was an average of over one million commuters per week. 

 The tentativeness to ride the T can be attributed to a series of unfortunate accidents which seemed to have dissuaded locals into chasing other alternatives to travel.

Many of these incidents occurred on the Green Line, as two cars derailed near Park Street during overnight hours last Monday. In an earlier incident this month, an overhead wire fell on the train causing sparks and an explosion, and a car collided with another Green car at Government Center, sending four passengers to the hospital.

There was also a report of a man severely injured after being hit by a commuter rail in Concord in August. 

Kay Jackson, 51, from Quincy, has taken the MBTA for many years, especially the Red Line, and she explained her frustration with the MBTA.

“I was taking the Orange Line, but after the fire, I refused to take the Orange Line any longer,” Jackson said. “Additional routes I’ve taken [were] commuter rail from Quincy Center and Ubers paid for by me, or my employers.”

She further emphasized that she knew many individuals that are now refusing to take the T to work and are now driving or working at home instead. 

Jackson pointed out that the lack of cleanliness, MBTA police presence, employees overall, MBTA’s lack of transparency and communication with riders are reasons for the decrease in the number of people opting for the public transportation that has regularly seen an influx of funding for its improvement.

Another frequent subway commuter, Irene Jin, a junior at Boston University, expressed her experience of riding the MBTA. 

“There are too many incidents that occurred with the T,” Jin said. “For instance, when I ride on [the subway], the rail track always makes large sounds and the car stops too often.”

Jin also mentioned that taking Uber or Lyft is a more convenient option when going to nearby destinations because of how much faster and cleaner these transportation services are. 

Grace Choi, a junior from Boston University, also mentioned that taking an Uber or walking if her destination is close is better. 

“I ride the Green line often, especially since it goes through campus, but I think it is outdated and should be renovated,” Choi said. 

According to MBTA services’ website, their highest ridership period after the COVID-19 pandemic was in the Fall of 2021, as vaccines were widely available and many passengers resumed normal activities, but the number dropped in January 2022 as Omicron hit, resulting in similar ridership back to the Fall of 2021. 

The Orange Line and Green Line between Government Center and Union Square in Somerville reopened last week, with new cars restored and lines mended after a shutdown of almost a month.

The MBTA further clarified on their website that masks are now no longer required on the T, except for the RIDE as of Aug. 12. 

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