After a series of derailments this summer, city leaders have expressed concern about how students relying on the MBTA will get to school this fall.
“I think this is a great option for our kids. It just needs to work for them,” said Boston City Councilor at-large Annissa Essaibi-George.
This year, Boston Public Schools announced it would be providing free T passes to 10,000 more kids in the district, adding to the 20,000 who already utilize the service. But if delays persist, tardiness could become an issue.
“My own boys take the T to school and tardiness is a huge problem at many of our schools,” Essaibi-George said. “Kids are traveling a great distance to get to and from school every day, and we need to make sure we have systems in place that support that effort.”
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In response, however, the MBTA has said it is focused on repairing and improving their lines.
“That's exactly why the MBTA is in the midst of an aggressive $8 billion capital investment program. Each and every week, work crews are making significant improvements to transit infrastructure such as tracks, signals and power systems,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.
Teachers and students have said the access to free transit is crucial to their everyday lives, allowing them to get to school, work and extracurricular activities.
“The fact that the T isn’t up to snuff is not a problem with giving kids passes, it’s a problem with how the T is funded by the state,” said Russell Weiss-Irwin, a teacher with Boston Public Schools.
Despite the issues, teachers and city leaders remain optimistic about the upcoming year. They expect many of the 10,000 students who just received free passes to have a minimal impact, as some already take the T and pay for it or utilize other sources of transportation.
Essaibi-George says she's hopeful that September and the beginning of the school year is a positive one for BPS kids.