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Orange Line closure: We deserve answers

Dwaign Tyndal

Like almost everyone I know, I was shocked to hear the T would be closing the entire Orange Line for 30 days. It’s hard to remember a more massive disruption in how our city works. And the short notice, with almost no forethought, is an insult to every T rider.

This is a giant disruption in Bostonians’ lives, and it hits in unfair ways, with Black, Brown, and immigrant Bostonians suffering the most. The T owes all of us some answers.

Who allowed things to get this bad, and then decided to fix it in such a haphazard way? Was it incompetence, neglect, or deceit? Why should we trust that they’ll do a better job this time? What will it take for the governor and the legislature to get their act together and clean house?

The Orange Line is crucial. It carries over 100,000 people every day — more people than the entire commuter rail system. We’re not just traveling for fun: we’re riding to work or church or the doctor, we’re seeing friends and family, we’re on the way to shop or eat or study.

Many more people depend on the T because they can’t afford a car — or have built their life around not needing one. And like so much, this hits our communities harder: Black and Brown Bostonians, as well as low-income, disabled, and immigrant communities, are especially dependent on transit, and will suffer more. Some T riders might have access to cars or a ride from a friend, but traffic and parking and the high price of gas make it far from a painless switch.

Without Orange Line service, people will have to spend hundreds of dollars on rides, we’ll miss appointments, we’ll lose jobs.

It’s an insult that this announcement was made without giving riders more time to figure out how they’ll get around, without telling mayors, without laying concrete plans for replacement service.

ACE and the T Riders Union will be fighting for those who depend most on the Orange Line. There’s a lot the T and the city can do to soften the blow — free T service, express bus-only lanes, adapted commuter rail coverage.

But these aren’t enough if we don’t also resolve the big questions at the core of the T. Transit is essential and needs to be treated as such. Riders need to be shown some respect by our state leaders. And we can’t let this happen again.

Dwaign Tyndal is Executive Director of Alternatives for Community and Environment.