The MBTA plans to acquire 30 new self-propelled cars by 2018, a move that would bring faster and more frequent service to the Fairmount Line and possibly open up a direct train link from Allston to Assembly Square, Governor Deval Patrick said Thursday morning.
The purchase of the cars, known as diesel multiple units, or DMUs, was just one of a quartet of announcements made in the parking lot of Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan.
The governor also announced the proposed December 2017 opening of a new Blue Hill Avenue Station in Mattapan, weekend hourly commuter rail service on the Fairmount Line starting next month, and the agency’s commitment to keeping the Fairmount commuter line’s fares equal to the subway’s cheaper fares.
Patrick said the first DMUs would be deployed on the Fairmount Line, but acquiring the trains could also open up other opportunities, such as a link from Assembly Square in Somerville to a recently announced commuter rail station in Allston, near the Massachusetts Turnpike tolls.
“Basically anywhere there’s an existing rail line, to be able to run an efficient, lower-density, more regular subway-type service opens up all kinds of possibilities,” Patrick said.
Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said the state expects the new railcars to cost about $240 million, and that the state will seek bids for proposals before the end of the year.
The governor, the transportation secretary, and T general manager Beverly Scott were joined by local officials, most of whom deemed the 2017 opening of the Mattapan station a strong investment in an area that has long been neglected.
The Blue Hill Avenue station will cost about $25.2 million, funded by an intergovernmental service agreement related to the Central Artery Project. Construction on the station is expected in November 2015, with a projected opening date of December 2017.
The station is the last currently scheduled for construction on the Fairmount Line, which is the only commuter rail line that runs entirely in the city of Boston.
The station has had its share of opposition. Mattapan resident Barbara Fields has stood against the project for a number of reasons, including the damage that construction could do to the foundation of nearby homes such as hers. She also said the noise, traffic, and lighting accompanying the station will negatively affect the quality of life in the area, and argues that residents already have ample access to public transportation.
“We just don’t think it’s needed,” she said.
The crowd at Thursday’s session disagreed. State Representative Russell E. Holmes recounted how growing up in the neighborhood meant sometimes taking as long as 45 minutes to an hour to take public transportation downtown. With the new stop, officials say that trip could be cut to eighteen minutes.
State Representative Daniel R. Cullinane said the opening of the line and more frequent service means more economic development and access to opportunity for the neighborhood.
“Quality rapid public transit, like what is being announced today, is fundamental to the equality both in our neighborhoods and in every community of the city of Boston,” he said.
The weekend service, scheduled to start Nov. 29, will be the first time such a schedule has been offered on the Fairmount Line.
Coupled with the lower fares, it appears to be another way that T officials are attempting to make the line look as convenient as the subway, even though its trains do not run as frequently.
Nicole Dungca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.