Somerville mayor 'concerned' about T closures

Somerville mayor is 'concerned' about the impact the T closures will have on her city

August 18, 2022

We are one day away from the impending month-long closure of the Orange Line.

The shutdown of the Orange Line, which boasts the second-highest ridership in the MBTA, begins Friday and will continue through Sept. 19, giving crews around the clock access to make much-needed repairs and upgrades.

Within the same timeframe, the recently opened Green Line Extension from Government Center to Union Square in Somerville will also be closed for nearly a month.

WBUR's Morning Edition host Rupa Shenoy is joined by Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne to talk about how her city will be impacted by these shutdowns.

Below are highlights from their conversation, which have been lightly edited.

Interview Highlights

On how she is feeling about the closures

"I've been very concerned about the impacts of these disruptions to our residents. And these routes are not just transit lines; for most of our residents they're a lifeline to work, school, medical appointments and other needs. The T needs to and has to step up. I'm not interested in criticizing them. We're interested in solutions."

On whether she thinks this was handled correctly

"We need safe, reliable transit. That's the number one thing, right? As the last month has shown, it hasn't been safe and it hasn't been reliable. Is this the way that I wanted, or that my community wanted, to see this happen? Absolutely not. We wanted the investment from the beginning, understanding that maintenance and continual maintenance over the last two decades was a necessity. We have to find solutions so people can move on."

On what she wants to see from the T

"The message that I've been pushing forward to the T is that we have dedicated bus lanes throughout the system, that there's a seamless integration from state roads to city roads, that the transportation is safe, reliable — it's frequent. And that, most importantly, it's centered on equity — ADA-compliance and accessibility and multilingual communication to our residents and riders who are impacted.

"I've also been advocating for fare-free [transit] throughout the month. This would hopefully increase incentives for ridership, reduce the congestion on our crowded roadways and acknowledge the [impact] these disruptions will have on people's lives."

This segment aired on August 18, 2022.