$5 Dunkin' gift cards don’t make up for the MBTA’s negligence

The JFK/UMass MBTA Station in Dorchester, Boston.

If you’ve been following the news lately, you know that the MBTA had a very rocky September; three separate MBTA-related incidents have garnered the attention of several local news outlets. This month, the MBTA tried to receive more positive press attention by handing out free masks and $5 Dunkin’ gift cards to passengers at 15 T stations, including JFK/UMass, on Monday, Oct. 18. [1] 

The MBTA tweeted that the deed was “to say thank you for taking the T,” and to show their riders some “extra love”; a blatantly empty gesture that will never repair what was lost at the hands of the MBTA. [1] 

On Sept. 11, Boston University professor David Jones was found dead underneath a rusted out staircase that connects Old Colony Road and the overpass on Columbia Road. [2] The stairs are near the JFK/UMass T stop, and they had been deemed unsafe and blocked off for 20 months before the accident. [3] The stairs were removed only after the accident, which begs the question: why did the MBTA wait nearly two years to remove infrastructure they knew could cause harm to passersby? [3]

Later in the month, an escalator malfunction at Back Bay station maimed nine individuals, and caused the MBTA to become embroiled in a lawsuit with a family from Louisiana. According to WHDH, the family suffered  “…multiple fractures of the upper and lower extremities; extensive and deep lacerations to the face and head; and other serious injuries.”  Witnesses to this incident claim that the escalators became flat like a slide, and started moving in reverse. Sara Aucoin, who had been gashed by the escalator, described being “grinded” and “shredded” by the machinery to WDHD. Eli Smith, who witnessed the scene, told NBC10 he recounts seeing a woman’s face gushing blood, and a boy’s t-shirt also covered in blood. [4]

Surely enough, both the JFK/UMass and Back Bay stations were two of the 15 T stations where riders were given Dunkin’ gift cards and free masks last Monday. [1] Following the horror of these two incidents, who does the MBTA think they’re fooling? Though a Dunkin’ gift card and a free mask is a nice treat, the MBTA’s money could be better spent on replacing infrastructure, though it is clear the organization would rather buy themselves some good publicity instead.

All of this is without mentioning how little a $5 Dunkin’ card actually compensates passengers for their continued ridership. A one-way trip on a local MBTA bus costs $1.70, a one-way ride on the subway costs $2.40, a one-way trip on the ferry can cost up to $9.75, and a one-way trip on the commuter rail can be as expensive as $13.25. [5] The MBTA would’ve better served its customers by just opening up its turnstiles for the morning, but instead, they gave some of their subway riders the equivalent of two trips on the T in coffee and donuts.  

These incidents come on top of the extensive list of issues the MBTA constantly finds itself riddled with. Whether they be unplanned delays and service suspensions or planned service changes, one look at the MBTA’s “Alerts” website will tell you that nearly all lines are facing some sort of problem. [6] Though the majority of the planned service alerts are due to the MBTA’s $8 billion dollar “Building a Better T” project, a glance at that website will tell you that only a small fraction of the projects have been completed. [7]

So, while a Dunkin’ gift card and a free mask may be nice, don’t let the MBTA fool you. It’s time to truly demand a better T. 




[3]-​​ Mobility Trends Story

[4]-Louisiana family sues MBTA following escalator malfunction





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