Mayor Michelle Wu may have added a new item to her transportation agenda: She wants Bostonians to talk more on the T.
Wu, a frequent MBTA rider, made the appeal during an interview with Politico after being asked whether people chat with her when she commutes.
“I was riding [Friday] morning and no one did again! Just [MBTA General Manager] Steve Poftak,” she said. “Sometimes people will on their way out of the train say hello.”
Wu has already put repairing infrastructure, eliminating fares, and creating more equitable routes on her check list for the MBTA. And so far, in her first month in office, she’s launched an $8 million pilot program to make three bus lines — the 23, 28, and 29 — free for two years.
But she said she’d also welcome a chattier commute.
“We’ve got to change the culture of riding the T,” she said in the interview. “It is a civic space for community conversations, but everyone’s always really quiet on there.”
“Maybe I’m still a Midwesterner at heart,” Wu, who is originally from Chicago, added.
Though many commuters have supported Wu’s T plans thus far, this might be one chatty train car they won’t travel in. So of course, several riders took to Twitter to support the sanctity of a quiet commute.
“I love Mayor Wu,” one commuter tweeted in response to Wu’s comments, “but absolutely not and don’t make eye contact with me either.”
“Huge fan of Mayor Wu, huge fan of community conversations, huge fan of the T,” another supporter noted, “But I’m on the Red Line now, and I don’t wanna talk to anyone.”
They were among dozens who chimed in.
We are New Englanders. Don't ask me to talk to other people.— Jim O'Connell (@Jim_OConnell) December 13, 2021
Do not speak to me on the T, for the love of god— 🎃👻Dana Berube 👻🎃 (@dana_berube) December 13, 2021
There's a reason the "quiet car"on the commuter rail was always full.— Adam Zysk (@A2Z17) December 13, 2021
Have you tried holding a conversation on the green line when it makes that turn between Boylston and Arlington? It's physically impossible.— bitcoin wallet inspector (@Conqy) December 13, 2021
I spend most of my time playing "What's That Smell".— John Campbell (@johnbackbay) December 13, 2021
One person even asked if Wu was trying to “increase car traffic,” to which Wu replied with a crying face emoji.
😭— Michelle Wu 吳弭 (@wutrain) December 14, 2021
But the reactions weren’t all negative. A few people were in favor of making the T more talkative, including someone who wrote that they’d received their first job by “talking to some guys on the T.” Another person even suggested adding bar cars on MBTA trains to encourage socializing.
Perfect example of an important community conversation! 🥲— Michelle Wu 吳弭 (@wutrain) December 14, 2021
Colleen Cronin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.