Keep the Fairmount Line on Track | City of Ideas

Posted 10/25/2016 by Rebecca Koepnick

In fact, these cancelations are serious enough and potentially so disruptive to the residents of the Fairmount corridor that Congressman Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) has asked the Department of Justice and the Federal Transit Administration to look into whether residents’ civil rights were violated.

One reason offered for these cancellations is low ridership. But while it is undoubtedly true that ridership is lower than that of other lines, it doesn’t mean that the train isn’t “on track.” What may be a surprise to many is that since the line was refurbished in 2013, ridership has increased dramatically.

A forthcoming study from Nelson/Nygaard, commissioned by the Boston Foundation in collaboration with the Fairmount Indigo Network, clearly shows that ridership on the Fairmount Line almost tripled between 2012 and 2016 from 789 boardings to 2,257 boardings. It’s also worth noting that the 6:25 am inbound train (Train 750), which is the subject of the Globe piece, is among the highest ridership trains on the Fairmount Line.

This is a significant accomplishment that has been fueled by community groups like Greater Four Corners Action Coalition and Project RIGHT getting out the word, and by a marketing campaign undertaken by the MBTA in 2015. Indeed, Mass. Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack has been a champion of the Fairmount line for many years.

But to get ridership even higher and truly meet the potential of the Fairmount Line, regular service is critical, along with many other changes, including increased marketing of the line, better connections to bus routes, and improved signage and station design.

Community-based organizations organized by Mela Miles at the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition have played a critical role in getting the line refurbished. But that doesn’t mean the train has reached its final destination. More work remains to be done. By providing regular, reliable service to the neighborhoods, the MBTA can be partners in providing greater transit equity to these neighborhoods. Further, we're not just writing and talking about these issues. In 2013, the Boston Foundation committed $10 million in investment in the Fairmount Corridor.

So, when we say, “all aboard!” we sincerely mean, all!

- Rebecca Koepnick, Director Neighborhoods and Housing, The Boston Foundation

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