By Richard Campbell
One T worker told me: “the wheel that squeaks gets the grease.” Well, now I’m squeaking. Riders of the MBTA may have noticed a number of station upgrades: some quite extravagant, others very long running. I believe it is our turn. As any rider of the MBTA knows there is considerable inequality of care across stations of the transit system. For if you are in the tonier neighborhoods, let’s use Arlington street stop in Back Bay as an example, your station will be manicured very carefully so as not to offend the high end clientele. But when you reach certain less desirable neighborhoods, well the condition and cleanliness can take a plunge. Shouldn’t there be consistent standards?
Riders may also notice the advantage of being near a high profile institution, that perhaps pressures the MBTA to maintain the station nearby is advantageous. For example, look at Harvard’s station- and one sees suddenly the ability for the MBTA to keep things gleaming is not a problem. The platforms and stairs of Downtown Crossing Red Line have been a disgusting mess for over twenty years, but now that we have pricey condos and shops, bless the bureau of uglification- they are finally on to a remodel. It must be that people paying millions of dollars for condos don’t like the filth like the rest of us. The real question is: why isn’t anyone offended? Where are the PC police when I need them? This is clear evidence of class bias being imposed upon my neighborhood. You are incredulous. Let’s look at South Boston stations, shall we?
For a while, now that South Boston is one of the hottest real estate market’s in Boston, extra attention has been given to Broadway station, which looks pretty good. I assure you this upgrade in conditions roughly paralleled the addition of high end housing around the station. But Andrew Square, like Downtown Crossing, has a long way to go. First, I would like to ask if it would absolutely kill the MBTA to have the floors and walls really scrubbed down? Is there a secret ban on painting this station that we are not aware of? Can we actually have proper garbage containers on the upper bus platforms that aren’t Gerry-rigged, sporting holes and covered in filth? Does the outdoor lighting at the station have to resemble a prison yard to give us the appropriate feeling of degradation? I mean, I’m just asking but…isn’t it a bad idea to let a Station leak like sieve for years on end?
Andrew Square is becoming a major hub in South Boston, with its six roads converging on one spot- numerous bus connections to the hospitals, and the continued growth in housing in the area. On many occasions I have offered comfort to visitors to the city who booked modest rooms in the two hotels near the square when they emerged from Andrew station, looking terrified at their destination. Clearly, the area small businesses in the square are growing and thriving, and more development is in the works. The Andrew Square Civic Association has done great work with planters and plantings, and the city has upgraded the traffic lights.
This is not to say that some progress hasn’t been made. We managed to get the T Station sign straightened out that had been bent over for nearly two years after a car ran into it. “Someone with power” complained that the clock on top of the station has been broken, so maintenance was out to fix it. Thank you. Now that summer is nearly upon us, I’m asking publicly that we get a serious scrub down, perhaps some better lighting, a new coat of red paint for the pillars. The MBTA may find that creating a nicer environment will also contribute to making the place feel a little more secure. I understand that Andrew Square isn’t the heart of the metropolis, but the MBTA can and should do better.