A nonprofit transportation advocacy group has joined the chorus of complaints about the recent performance of the MBTA, calling in a petition for the state to devote enough funding to avoid mishaps like Monday’s severe delays and cancellation of evening service.
“A Charlie Ticket cannot be a lottery ticket. Getting around safely and on time should never be a game of chance,” says the petition, started by Transportation for Massachusetts.
Nearly 2,000 people have signed on since it was first posted, after a storm last week crippled MBTA trains and left hundreds of commuters waiting in freezing temperatures.
The petition blasts state officials for the “chronic underfunding” of public transit, and demands improvements to both the MBTA and regional bus services statewide, so residents can safely and easily get around “regardless of the weather.”
Josh Ostroff, outreach director for Transportation for Massachusetts, said buses and trains have not been maintained to a degree where they can withstand foreseeable New England weather conditions.
“Because of the extraordinary amount of snow we have had, it’s understandable that there would be delays. But the frozen switches, and breakdowns and the subway motors that are not maintained for this type of weather takes an enormous toll on commuters—and on people who just need to live their lives in a predictable manner,” he said.
After receiving a flood of e-mails, tweets, and direct complaints about the lack of reliability in weather conditions that are common during the winter months, Transportation for Massachusetts “decided a petition was a good way for people to come together and express their dismay over the state of things,” said Ostroff.
Taking a line from the New England Patriots’ mantra during their push for a Super Bowl championship win, the group said in their petition that they want the state to “finish the job” of properly funding the transit system, and dedicate additional funds to upgrades and general upkeep.
Support for the petition grew Monday afternoon, as Governor Charlie Baker himself took the T to task for its failure to operate in the snowy conditions. During a press conference in Dorchester, Baker said his administration was “frustrated” and “disappointed” by transit agency’s performance.
While Transportation for Massachusetts is still relying on the state to come up with the money to fix the T, one resident has spearheaded his own initiative to collect cash for the aging fleet of Orange and Red Line trains.
Last week, Charlestown resident Janssen McCormick started a GoFundMe.com fund-raiser to try and rally residents to pitch in to pay for the MBTA’s faulty equipment themselves.
Although his fund-raising attempt was meant to mock the state’s lack of efficiency — he’s looking to raise $300 million — it received more than $600 in donations.
“I was very surprised by that; I thought it would just be an inside joke between a few of my friends,” he said.
McCormick said he plans to give whatever money is raised to the group Alternatives for Community and Environment, knowing full well he won’t meet his goal.
“As long as it’s snowing I think people will still be mad at the T,” he said. “With more snow coming this week, there are definitely going to be more trains that are going to break down.”
Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.