A Salem city councilor is calling out Charlie Baker over the state of the MBTA

"I can’t picture an elected official sitting in hours of traffic thinking the status quo is ok."

Boston, MA, 12/5/2019 --  Passengers make their way onto the Orange Line at Downtown Crossing. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff) 

Topic: 06orangeline
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Passengers make their way onto the Orange Line at Downtown Crossing in Boston. –Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

Christine Madore wants Gov. Charlie Baker to experience what her commute was like this week.

Madore, a Salem city councilor, says she takes public transit on a daily basis, taking the commuter rail and Orange Line to her urban planning job in downtown Boston. But after delays and crowded trains made her and coworkers an hour late to a meeting Wednesday morning, Madore felt compelled to use her “small soapbox” to vent — and issue a challenge to Baker.

In a series of tweets, Madore recounted how she was forced to walk back and forth from North Station to the Financial District due to the Orange Line delays this week. In order to pick her two kids up from daycare, she said her workday was shortened as a result.

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“When I hear @MassGovernor say he ‘doesn’t need to ride the T to understand its issues’ he undermines the nuances of commuters’ lived experiences: how we must rearrange every aspect (of) our lives around an extremely unreliable but essential lifeline to economic stability,” Madore tweeted. “Imagine if @MassGovernor’s only commute option for 1 day was by #MBTA and he was hours late for his first [appointment] of the day?”

Baker is among the many top state lawmakers — and 2.6 million Great Boston residents — who opt to drive to work, rather than take the aging transit system, as The Boston Globe‘s Spotlight Team recently reported. Despite living near a commuter rail stop, the Swampscott Republican has defended not taking the MBTA as governor, noting that his administration has spent “billions” to improve the neglected system. He told reporters that the Orange Line issues Wednesday were “unfortunate.”

“I’m not a virtue signaler,” Baker said last month of his decision to drive, dismissing calls for what he characterized as a largely symbolic gesture.

However, Madore argues that more elected leaders on the T could have a tangible impact — providing lawmakers a taste of public transit riders’ daily commutes, which the vast majority currently do not experience. The Globe reported last month that their survey of 134 state and municipal elected officials found that 85 percent took a car to work and less than 7 percent had monthly transit passes.

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Madore suggested that many residents opt to endure the region’s rush-hour traffic — by some estimates, the worst in the country — to avoid risking it on the MBTA, even if the congestion proves “stressful.”

“I can’t picture an elected official sitting in hours of traffic thinking the status quo is ok,” she tweeted. “Voters: please elect leaders who have the courage to get behind straight forward solutions that have been studied and proven effective in other cities/countries.”

As a supporter of increased investment in public transportation, Maduro told Boston 25 News in an interview Thursday that she hopes speaking out will spur action.

“If we stop speaking up, we are normalizing the status quo, and the status quo is not OK,” she said.

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