MBTA riders at JFK/UMass echo new polling on transit frustrations

JFK/UMass during the mid-morning commute. Jasmine Braswell photo.

Passengers at JFK/UMass stop on Thursday were irritated about the state of the transit system. New polling says they are not alone. A WBUR poll this morning found that only 29 percent of polled voters said they approve of the way Gov Charlie Baker has handled the MBTA and 52 percent disapproved.

Gaye Sharon, a 46-year-old who has been living in Roxbury since 1999, said she is part of that 52 percent, “because I mean, look at the Red Line at JFK up until now, a schedule is not real back on schedule, you know, and bus fare is going up next month first of July. And I mean, a lot of people out there are still unemployed don't got no housing, no nothing.”

The fare increases are projected to raise the coast of tickets by an average of 6 percent.

In the WBUR poll, 70 percent of Boston-area voters said the new fares should be postponed until the Red Line is back to full service after its recent derailment.

Passengers at JFK don’t believe the fare hikes will lead to better service.

“It still doesn't weaken my pocket or anything like that or whatever,” Sharon said. “But I mean, if you're going to pay money, we should at least get good service for the money that we're spending.”

The delays, which MBTA officials might add 20 to 30 minutes to a commute, are still an inconvenience for those who have jobs that depend on timeliness.

Shiffon Wiggins, a 29-year-old who is from Roxbury but lives in Randolph, said that she missed her interview because of the lateness and that Governor Baker and the MBTA “got to figure something out, it's unprofessional, it's unorganized, it's an inconvenience, and I'm aggravated because of that.”

The JFK stop was bustling on Thursday and a group of teenagers on their way to the beach were frustrated with the slowness of the trains as well. Some passengers were unaware of the recent derailment at the station, but were unsurprised by the delays given the general state of the trains.

An ongoing effort from activists has focused on the governor’s non-use of the transportation infrastructure he is tasked with overseeing. More than 70 percent of poll respondents said they would like to see Baker ride the MBTA sometimes to better understand the problems with the system.
Echoing that sentiment was James McCarthy, 58, of Winchester.

“The governor’s finally realized there's a problem with the T system and he's been avoiding it for years and now he pretty much is forced to deal with it. You live in Swampscott, you have a chauffeur driver, it's hard to imagine the struggles we go through,” said McCarthy.

MBTA leadership this week announced a boost in capital funds to speed repairs, as well as a more aggressive plan to shut down train service for repairs on nights and weekends.