A growing list of state legislators will put themselves in passengers’ shoes Thursday when they trek to work on Beacon Hill using public transportation.
Dozens of elected officials who live within an hour commute of the State House have signed up for the “Gov on the T” project, an initiative launched this month that challenges local leaders to travel to their jobs by train, bus, commuter rail, or ferry, and experience what this winter has been like for constituents in their districts.
The event was planned for the last day of winter, March 19, to keep the T’s problems front and center through the spring, said Steve Kropper, one of the organizers.
“This will keep it in their minds for another few months,” he said.
He hopes that after their morning commutes, officials will better realize Massachusetts is far from having a “world-class” transit system, and will invest more resources in transportation reform.
Kropper said the group has heard back from 52 of the 87 legislators targeted for the project.
A full list of who is participating can be found on the event’s website.
“We have been delighted and surprised by how many have responded,” he said.
Special pins were distributed to participants so commuters can interact with legislators, and ask them questions during the ride. Passengers are also encouraged to take — and Tweet — photos of the “roving packs” of lawmakers.
To get more people involved, Kropper and co-organizer Michele Rapp contacted former governor Michael Dukakis, a staunch supporter of public transportation known for riding the T to work during his time in office.
From there, it was “an easy sell.”
“It gained traction,” Kropper said. “It was like organizing a party in college — you get a popular kid to come aboard, and then others will come, too. You just build on that.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Kropper had not heard back from Governor Charlie Baker’s office. In previous interviews, the governor has said he wouldn’t take a symbolic ride on the MBTA.
“We chased the governor, and e-mailed the governor, and called the governor, and we would be delighted if he would participate,” Kropper said.
Earlier this month, members of another group, Transportation for Massachusetts, delivered 12,000 signatures to the State House to remind legislators that fixing the T should be a top priority, even as winter comes to an end.
The group said Wednesday it supports Kropper’s experiment.
“We think it’s wonderful that legislators are committing to taking public transit,” said Josh Ostroff, outreach director for Transportation for Massachusetts. “If they have a good experience, they can recognize that it can be a reliable way to get to work. And if they don’t, they will understand the frustrations hundreds of thousands of people have endured this winter.”