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‘You need to fix this’: Want to send officials a message about the state of the MBTA? Try one of these free postcards.

Two transit activists have come up with a novel approach for making sure people’s complaints are heard: sending snail mail.

Frustrated MBTA commuter Andrew Cohen has devised a new way to make sure complaints about the MBTA reach the desks of decision makers: Sending them postcards.Andrew Cohen

Every day, officials at the MBTA are bombarded by online complaints about the state of the transit agency.

Whenever a train lumbers through a slow zone, a bus shows up late, or some other calamity befalls the T in and around Boston, the people running the system will undoubtedly get an earful on Twitter — or maybe even a harshly worded email.

But if you want to try a new — or rather, old — approach to keeping the pressure on the public servants responsible for your commute, here’s another idea: sending snail mail.

That’s the thinking behind a new campaign launched by one frustrated commuter, who last week began handing out postcards addressed to the MBTA to passengers outside train stations, and urging riders to mail them to officials to complain about the state of the T.


“Something physical like a postcard is real. It’s in your hands. It’s hard to ignore,” said Andrew Cohen, 30, who printed out the postcards last week and distributed them at T stops Thursday. “Anybody can complain on Twitter, but with a physical card that was given out in Boston, that a real person put pen to paper to and dropped it in a mailbox — that means they feel strongly about [what’s going on].”

Each postcard includes the mailing address for the MBTA and Governor Maura Healey’s office, as well as a link to a site that helps residents find the contact information for their state representative.

The cards are available in red, blue, green, and orange, to align with the MBTA train line colors passengers ride most often, and include a message that says, “Dear MBTA, You need to fix this. Build a better T.”

Those who send them in are encouraged to write their own personalized messages about how the T has let them down, before dropping them in a mailbox.


Cohen, for example, wrote about how his commute from Randolph to Cambridge — by car, then on the Red Line — has now ballooned to an hour-and-a-half each way.

“I just want it to underscore that people need this service. It can’t be put off, or ignored, or postponed any longer,” Cohen said. “We’re at this crisis point where it’s almost non-functional, so we want to keep the fire under the people in charge to keep moving forward and take this seriously.”

In a statement, a spokesperson said the T “values all feedback from riders,” and directed the Globe to remarks made Thursday by its new General Manager Phillip Eng, who acknowledged “we have a lot of work to do to reverse years of underinvestment in state of good repair.”

“We are moving in the right direction,” Eng said, “and we are making progress towards delivering a more reliable transportation system that the public deserves.”

On Thursday, Cohen and Sebastian Luu, a 21-year-old Suffolk University student, stood outside Downtown Crossing and Park Street stations and handed out about 40 postcards to passersby in under two hours.

They camped near a homemade A-frame sign designed to look like the ones the T sometimes sets up outside of stations — down to the font and emergency logo the agency uses.

The postcards were free. Cohen said he will accept donations from those willing and able to chip in — a handful of people did after learning about the project on Reddit — but he’s more focused on making sure they’re getting to the right people.


This is not the duo’s first time bending T leadership’s ears. Cohen and Luu met at an April MBTA Board of Directors meeting, where they both spoke during the public comment period. From there, they began discussing ways to keep the pressure on the agency, including on Eng.

Luu, who said he’s opposed the T’s service reductions over the past several years, is pleased he and Cohen have found a new way to empower other riders to speak their minds.

“We’re all disappointed with how the T has been running,” he said. “Postcards are something that people haven’t seen before, and it’s another way to get the pressure on them to be accountable.”

Their plan still needs some fine-tuning. The postcards do not have paid postage, an oversight they said they intend to fix going forward to make it easier for people to share their frustrations.

Given how well the first round of handing out postcards went, they plan to order a new batch and return to T stops at some point in the next week or two.

Next time, they’re bringing stamps.

Spencer Buell can be reached at spencer.buell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerBuell.