Assistant House Speaker calls it ‘outrageous’; Mayor said he and staff will address impact on Malden residents
Despite the forthcoming positive results cited by MBTA officials, there is no avoiding the severe impact the 30-day Orange Line shutdown will have on the tens of thousands of local residents who will be affected by the move in their day-to-day lives. Malden hosts two major Orange Line stations, Oak Grove and Malden Center, which originate and end thousands of trips per day for commuters. The shutdown will also have an impact on college students and others who use the Orange Line to get to and from classes.
On Wednesday, both local and federal officials reacted to the dramatic announcement, with Malden Mayor Gary Christenson saying he and his staff were already working on a response to the shutdown that would mitigate the impact to local residents, if at all possible.
U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-5th District), who represents Malden and many other communities affected by the shutdown, called the planned move “outrageous” due to the impact it would have on the over 100,000 Orange Line riders who make use of the line daily. “It is outrageous that years of underinvestment have left the MBTA with this decision of last resort just to ensure basic safety for riders,” Rep. Clark said.
“This service disruption will upend the lives of those who have already been hit hardest by the pandemic and its economic fallout,” Rep. Clark added.
Mayor Christenson, in a statement immediately after Wednesday’s press conference by MBTA officials and Governor Charlie Baker, said he and his staff were already working on addressing the major announcement and subsequent local transportation disruption. “This shutdown will without a doubt negatively impact our community especially our residents who depend on the Orange Line to get to and from work and for our students returning to school,” Mayor Christenson said. “I have already met with our team to see if we can do anything to help the situation which includes utilizing the commuter rail to offset the disruption.”
“This announcement also highlights our repeated stance over the years that the MBTA needs to do a better job of maintaining what they have rather than funding new projects especially where it’s not cost neutral,” Mayor Christenson added.
“In the meantime, we will continue to work with the MBTA on ways to minimize the impact to our community,” the mayor said.
Mayor Christenson noted that there were some alternative travel options for local and area Orange Line riders already outlined at Wednesday’s press conference. “During [Wednesday’s] press conference, it was announced that several steps will be taken to ensure that existing riders will still be able to reach their normal commuting destinations by way of alternate substitute transportation including the use of the Commuter Rail as well as shuttle busses,” Mayor Christenson said. (See separate story in this issue.)
Additionally, Mayor Christenson said he and his staff are “actively working with representatives of the MBTA to ensure this Commuter Rail service runs smoothly and will be pushing for more frequent rides than its current schedule.”
With respect to shuttle busses, the mayor added that the MBTA is still in the process of finalizing those plans and said, “We will share those updates as soon as they are made available.”
Assistant Speaker Clark echoed the mayor’s sentiments regarding alternative transportation options. “There needs to be a clear, comprehensive plan for the tens of thousands of people who rely on the Orange Line every single day and significant investment in our public transit system to finally take it into the 21st century,” Assistant Speaker Clark said.