Ashmont, JFK-UMass targeted on T’s spring cleaning ‘blitz’

MBTA employees will begin a $25 million cleaning and maintenance project this spring to improve conditions at the transit system’s busiest stations, officials said on Monday. The “station brightening” effort will include power-washing, repairing ceiling leaks, replacing cracked tiles and repainting walls, among other checklist items.

MBTA leaders described the plan as a “short-term blitz” to give customers a more pleasant experience ahead of a more comprehensive renovation process next year.

“A lot of the feedback we got as part of the fare increase discussion was that folks wanted to see results,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said at a meeting of the authority’s oversight board. “They wanted stations to be cleaner, wanted stations to be nicer, wanted better customer experience from the T. I’m very pleased we have short-term activities we’ve been able to initiate in a relatively short period of time.”

Work on the brightening project will begin April 1, with high-traffic stations Ashmont, Back Bay, Downtown Crossing, Dudley and JFK/UMass targeted first. However, MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville said, additional busways and subway stations will be renovated later in the process. Gonneville said the spring cleaning will not be “the big bang” customers may want, but that the changes will be noticeable.

The MBTA will fund the effort with pay-as-you-go capital, but Gonneville left open the possibility of identifying additional money to lengthen the program. Fiscal and Management Control Board members urged the MBTA to use the planned work as a springboard toward better regular cleaning and maintenance.

“The contract we have now is not sufficient,” said board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt. “I don’t think it gives the level of cleaning, of constant cleaning, we need throughout our station.” MBTA officials are also planning a broader $65 million project focusing on both station rejuvenation and improving wayfinding at the Park Street station, which Gonneville said will begin during the summer. That project has been planned for close to a year and went out for a bid to secure the contract. Officials will discuss the effort in the coming weeks.