Starts & Stops

The Blue Line-Red Line link is getting renewed interest

John Blanding/Globe Staff

The Blue Line just may be the easy child of the MBTA subway line, boasting the highest reliability rate and room to spare on most rush-hour trains.

But big development plans downtown and across the harbor in East Boston and Revere mean the line could see significantly more demand in coming years, officials said last week. That has transportation officials openly discussing a long-stalled extension of the Blue Line to connect it to the Red Line in Boston’s West End.

Perhaps the most prominent development proposal is the city’s bid for Amazon to build a new, second headquarters at Suffolk Downs, bringing as many as 50,000 employees to a former race track anchored by two Blue Line stations. Even without Amazon, ridership on the Blue Line could grow by more than 30 percent over the next 25 years, officials forecast.


Since Boston submitted its Amazon bid, the Red-Blue connector has received new attention. The idea is to extend the Blue Line past its current terminus at Bowdoin to the Charles/MGH Red Line stop. It would close a gap in the system, because the Blue and Red lines are the only branches of the subway system that don’t connect to one another.

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In its Amazon pitch, Boston officials described the connector as a “clear goal” for the state. It was a bold claim — the state was once legally required to complete the $750 million project but spent several years trying to abandon it before winning final approval to drop the plan in 2015 from the federal government.

But maybe Boston was on to something. No, the project’s not alive again. But at an Oct. 30 meeting, MBTA board chairman Joseph Aiello asked agency staff for an update on what building the connector would entail.

Specifically, he wants an analysis of how development along the Red and Blue lines over the past decade may impact the need for the project, noting growth in Kendall Square and at Logan Airport. He also called for a review of different tunneling methods and how they could impact the project’s price.

Stephanie Pollack, the state’s transportation secretary, said the Blue Line’s future needs will depend on what type of developments are built. If Amazon makes Suffolk Downs primarily a jobs site, more workers may travel east from Boston. But if Suffolk Downs becomes a mixed-use site with lots of housing, demand for downtown trips would rise.


Boston’s Amazon pitch also included a potential commuter rail station near Wonderland, the Blue Line’s Revere terminus. And it hinted in a map of another long-floated idea: that the Blue Line could also expand north toward Lynn. State officials didn’t address those ideas at the board meeting.

Ride-hail drivers nabbed for skipping stickers at Logan

It’s easy to spot an Uber or Lyft driver on the streets. They’ve got the companies’ logos on their windshields or rear windows.

Well, except for when they don’t. Some drivers choose to forgo the decals, which are required under state rules.

The requirement can be skirted easily enough: aside from pickups and dropoffs, a ride-hail car looks like any other personal vehicle. But at Logan Airport, where Uber and Lyft began picking up passengers earlier this year, they’re easier to spot, because drivers are closely regulated and are expected to wait in specific lots for riders.

And in recent months, there’s been a bit of a crackdown at the airport. Users of an online forum for ride-hail drivers have warned in recent weeks of increased decal inspections.


David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said officers have issued 30 decal violations at Logan since August. Another 50 drivers have received written or verbal warnings, he said.

The violation comes with a $200 penalty, which is paid for by the company, Procopio said.

The companies provide drivers with the decals when they sign up, and say they often send reminders to use them. In addition, Uber sometimes sends staff members to Logan to issue decals to drivers who don’t have them.

Uber and Lyft officials did not respond to questions about whether the company eventually passes those $200 penalty charges on to drivers.

Adam Vaccaro can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @adamtvaccaro.