Massachusetts: MBTA Wins $67 Million Federal Grant to Improve Green Line Accessibility for People with Disabilities

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Brookline — The Healey-Driscoll Administration is celebrating a $67 million federal grant awarded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to improve accessibility for passengers on the Green Line. The funding comes from the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden in 2021. ASAP funds projects that upgrade older transit-systems to make them accessible to people with disabilities or limited mobility. The project will make fully accessible 14 ground-level stops along the B and C branches of the Green Line in the neighborhoods of Allston, Brighton, and Brookline.

Governor Maura Healey, Transportation Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt, MBTA General Manager Phil Eng and Director of Federal Funds and Infrastructure Quentin Palfrey celebrated the award at the Brookline Town Hall. They were joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey, Federal Transit Administration Regional Administrator Peter Butler, Brookline Town Administrator Chas Carey, City of Boston Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin Hodge, other elected officials, advocates and riders.

"This funding will be transformational for improving accessibility to the Green Line and the ridership experience for all passengers," said Governor Healey. "A critical part of modernizing and improving our historic transit system is ensuring that every rider is able to use the system with ease and comfort. These federal awards are critical to our efforts to make the upgrades necessary to deliver this for our residents. We're grateful to President Biden, our partners at the Federal Transit Administration, and our Congressional delegation for supporting this work here in Massachusetts."

"This is an exciting step forward in carrying out our administration's commitment to providing equitable, accessible public transportation for all riders," said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. "This funding will be a game changer for making critically important changes to 14 MBTA stops to bring them into ADA-compliance and ensure passengers with disabilities or limited mobility can access them. Thank you to all of our federal partners for helping us advance our goals."

The Green Line is the nation's oldest light rail subway line and serves more than 70 stations with an average weekday ridership of more than 100,000 in the Boston area. Nearly all of these Green Line stations were built before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the proposed project will support the MBTA's effort to ensure equity across the transit system by making the stations fully accessible to people with disabilities or limited mobility.

This project will make the 14 B and C branch stops more accessible by raising platforms to remove the current 14-inch step that makes boarding and alighting at these stops difficult or impossible for passengers with disabilities, elderly riders, and people with strollers or carts. The requested project will also widen, level, and illuminate the platforms to ensure safe and accessible navigation for all riders, including those who use wheeled mobility devices.

"The MBTA has made great strides in improving accessibility, and we are deeply committed to building a fully accessible system," said MBTA General Manager Eng. "The Green Line's street-level stops are some of the most challenging segments of the system for riders with disabilities to traverse. This critical funding allows us to enhance safety for all with vital improvements and upgrades to five B Branch and nine C branch stops so they can be easily accessed by riders of all abilities. Under the leadership of Governor Healey and her Administration, we are aggressively pursuing federal funding grants where available. Thank you to our federal and state partners within the Biden Administration, the FTA, the delegation, and our dedicated Planning and System-wide Accessibility team at the MBTA for making these advancements possible."

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"A successful transportation system is one which allows everyone the freedom of unimpeded mobility, said Transportation Secretary Tibbits-Nutt.  "We are grateful to the Biden Administration, FTA officials, and our congressional delegation for the $67 million grant which will help the MBTA make 14 station stops ADA-compliant leading to profound improvements for riders on the B and C branches of the Green Line."

"I am absolutely thrilled that the MBTA has received this award to make necessary upgrades to the Green Line. The award demonstrates the critical importance of federal funds to our state's strategy for meeting our transportation goals and improving the lives of residents," said Director of Federal Funds and Infrastructure Quentin Palfrey. "Thank you to President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, Acting Administrator Vanderpool, and all of our federal partners for supporting our efforts to make a more accessible, equitable transit system in Massachusetts."

This announcement is the most recent in a series of federal funding awards granted to Massachusetts since the Healey-Driscoll Administration launched a whole-of-government strategy to compete for federal dollars. The Administration has successfully won more than $1 billion in discretionary grants for transportation projects, including: $335 million to reconnect communities and increase mobility through the Allston I-90 Multimodal Project, $372 million for the replacement of the Cape Cod Canal bridges, $108 million for West-East Rail, $33 million for schools to electrify their bus fleets, and $24 million to rehabilitate Leonard's Wharf in New Bedford.

The MBTA is actively working to improve accessibility throughout the system, and the ASAP investment celebrated today builds on several recent investments made at the MBTA, including:

Freestanding mini-high platforms at select inaccessible Commuter Rail stations: Over the past year, the MBTA has successfully developed an innovative design for freestanding mini-high structures that will provide level boarding on existing low-level platforms at select Commuter Rail stations. Wellesley Square on the Framingham/Worcester Line, West Medford on the Lowell Line, and Franklin and Walpole on the Franklin/Foxboro Line will be the first four Commuter Rail platforms to receive these accessibility upgrades by the beginning of 2025 with funding secured to begin design efforts for similar accessibility upgrades at Wakefield and Wyoming Hill on the Haverhill Line, Concord and Lincoln on the Fitchburg Line, and Endicott on the Franklin/Foxboro Line.

2023 ASAP Funding at Symphony Station on the Green Line's E Branch: The MBTA was awarded over $66 million in federal funding for accessibility improvements at Symphony station. Symphony was constructed in 1941 and is one of downtown Boston's last inaccessible underground Green Line stations. The funding comes as part of the FTA's FY22 ASAP funding, which was the first round of the competitive grant program and will allow for the construction of redundant elevators serving the inbound and outbound platforms. The project is now out for bid.

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New Elevators with Several in Construction: Over the last decade, the T has constructed over 75 new elevators with an additional 50 in the pipeline.

Best-in-Class Employee Trainings on Accessible Service: New trainings for frontline employees focused on how to provide best-in-class accessible service have been recently deployed and a number of innovative solutions to long-standing accessibility challenges will be piloted in the coming year – including indoor wayfinding technology for blind/low vision users.

Access in Motion: In September 2023, the MBTA launched "Access in Motion," a pioneering marketing campaign raising awareness of accessibility features and their benefits for all riders.

Additional Transit Ambassadors: In July 2023, a new contract related to providing in-station customer assistance via Transit Ambassadors went into effect, and staffing levels were scaled up. As part of the new contract, in an effort to better support both riders navigating throughout subway stations and Transit Ambassadors assisting riders living with disabilities, a full revision of the accessibility training module for Transit Ambassadors was completed and incorporated into the new-hire training program in March 2023. All Transit Ambassadors completed this new training as of July 2023.

Statements of Support

Senator Elizabeth Warren:

"Making the Green Line more accessible for people with disabilities is the right thing to do and a big win for everyone who takes the T. I've fought hard to deliver more federal funds for Massachusetts, including over $20 billion in national investment from the Biden administration, and the result is more opportunities in our local communities. I commend Governor Healey, Mayor Wu, Senator Markey, and General Manger Eng for their close partnership to secure these federal resources to improve the T."

Senator Edward J. Markey:
"An accessible, just public transit system allows anyone, including seniors and people with disabilities, to call themselves a rider. This funding represents a critical step toward transit and disability justice, allowing riders to take advantage of the Green Line and the wealth of opportunities it provides. I am grateful for the partnership with our federal delegation, the MBTA, and state and municipal leaders to secure this funding, and we will continue to work to ensure the accessibility of all stations across the MBTA system."

Congressman Jake Auchincloss:
"The Green Line upgrades are another example that what happens in Washington, matters: this bipartisan infrastructure law funding will improve commutes for my Brookline & Newton constituents. Next up: the Newton commuter rail stations, which require the same attention from the MBTA as the Green Line stations."

Mayor of Boston Michelle Wu:
"This investment will greatly improve the daily experience of commuters with wheelchairs, scooters, and strollers who deserve accessible and comfortable public transportation. The City of Boston is grateful to our federal and state partners for needed upgrades to the oldest subway line in the country."

Chas Carey, Brookline Town Administrator:
"This award is a major leap for public transit accessibility in Brookline and beyond. Ensuring meaningful accessibility to our residents and visitors is crucial to Brookline's continued growth as a nationally renowned community for people of all backgrounds to live, work, explore, and enjoy. The Town is grateful to the FTA, the Healey-Driscoll Administration, our congressional delegation, the MBTA, and all the federal and local staff who made this incredible opportunity a reality."

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