ACE Blog

We demand real solutions to MBTA problems

May 12, 2015

Yesterday, legislators held a State House hearing on Governor Baker’s proposed MBTA legislation, just over a month since full service resumed system-wide. Developed out of recommendations by a rapid response panel, this legislation claims to address the tremendous problems exposed by the brutal winter—but unfortunately will create an even bigger disaster if implemented.

State House hearing on Baker's MBTA plan on May 11

“This is a distraction,” said Kalila Barnett, Executive Director for Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE). “Instead of proposing real solutions, the Baker administration is using the winter to advance a deceptive agenda. These so-called ‘reforms’ will create more economic inequality and throw years of disinvestment on riders while privatizing public services to enrich wealthy interests. It’s time to build off of 2013 and move toward a vision for public transportation that serves the needs of riders and a thriving region.”

Jammin' for Justice awardee spotlight: Black Lives Matter Boston and the Boston Coalition for Police Accountability

May 12, 2015

As we prepare for Jammin' for Justice, our biggest celebration and fundraiser of the year, we'd like to highlight two recipients of our EJ Awards, Black Lives Matter Boston (BLM Boston) and the Boston Coalition for Police Accountability (BCPA).

BLM Boston formed in response to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police last August in Ferguson, Mo. BCPA is comprised of nearly 40 groups (ACE is a member) and came together last year after formative conversations about police practices in 2013. Both work in solidarity with groups across the country and address law enforcement targeting of black youth and youth of color locally and nationally.

"I want to see young people empowered, able to challenge things on a day-to-day basis, challenging police in the streets," said Carl Williams of BCPA. "I want to see people feel safe and supported in their community."

In the past year, BLM Boston and BCPA have led thousands of people in marches, organized creative actions and held community meetings to build the movement for police accountability and racial justice.

Jammin' for Justice awardee spotlight: Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition

April 30, 2015

As we prepare for Jammin' for Justice, our biggest celebration and fundraiser of the year, we'd like to highlight one of our EJ Awardees, the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC). While we coordinate YAC, this award recognizes the dedication and energy of the core member groups that fought for the Youth Pass pilot.

In 2012, the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC) was formed in response to drastic proposals to hike fares and cut service. This coalition built on and broadened the reach of the Youth Way on the MBTA campaign which was created in 2007 to work for a Youth Pass.

YAC began organizing thousands of youth for creative actions, including a 24-hour vigil outside the State House as part of a successful campaign to reduce the fare hike. With partner groups, we also secured additional and substantial MBTA funding from the Legislature in 2013. These wins solidified our coalition as a powerful force in pushing for an equitable public transit system.

Early Bird campaign wins permanent trips!

April 30, 2015

We're happy to report that the additional Early Bird bus trips our T Riders Union (TRU) won in the fall and winter are now permanently included in the MBTA's regular schedule!

TRU wins additional Early Bird tripsLast fall, we pushed the MBTA to implement extra early morning trips in the fall and winter schedules on Routes 22, 23, 28 and 109, including runs before 6:00 a.m. and extra round trips.

This includes an increase in the service void zone of Saturday and Sunday mornings, a pressing need of shift workers. These changes, now incorporated into the MBTA's regular schedule, have already made significant improvements in early morning service in the transit-dependent communities of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Everett. Riders have more flexibility to make shifts on time and the added service has reduced overcrowding.

Our Early Bird campaign was launched last year after we surveyed riders in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan and found that 90 percent supported early morning service, meaning all bus trips starting before 6:00 a.m. Public testimony included firsthand accounts from hotel and janitorial workers of packed 5:00 a.m. buses and difficulties in reaching jobs during the early off-peak hours.

Jammin' for Justice is coming up!

April 11, 2015

Members and supporters enjoying the evening at Jammin' last yearYou're invited to Jammin' for Justice, our biggest celebration and fundraiser of the year!

Please join us at Hibernian Hall on Thursday, May 21 to catch up with old friends, make new ones and honor a year of environmental justice victories. Enjoy great food, drinks, an extensive silent auction and dancing.

Jammin' for Justice
Thursday, May 21, 2015
6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Sign-up for the Youth Pass pilot

April 11, 2015

Sign up for the Youth Pass pilot by April 30!After eight years of a hard-fought campaign, we are excited to share that our Youth Pass pilot program is now open for enrollment! Young people can register for the pilot on the MBTA's website through April 30.

"It's good that we're starting a Youth Pass pilot. It's time that youth have something that can benefit our lives," said REEP Youth Organizer Asia Fleming. "I have friends who sometimes have to choose between school or work because they don't have enough money to take the bus to both. We don't have a choice but to go to school, and we're emptying our pockets to do so."

This year-long program will run from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, for 1,500 youth ages 12 to 21 living in Boston, Chelsea, Malden and Somerville. Participants can choose between monthly ($26) and weekly ($7) passes, and may switch between the two over the course of the pilot. A random lottery of registrants will determine who fills the spots, and passes must be purchased in person at the designated Youth Pass hub of each city. Young people may continue registering after April 30, as spaces may open up over time.

Representatives of our Youth Affordabilit(T) Coalition (YAC) worked intensely with the MBTA Youth Pass working group over the fall to develop the structure, parameters and logistics of the pilot. In December, the proposed pilot was presented to the MassDOT board for review and has been incorporated into the MBTA's budget for the coming year.

T Riders Union Base-building Intern

March 5, 2015

Hakim Sutherland, T Riders Union Base-building Intern

I’m the T Riders Union base-building intern. I live in Upham’s Corner. I rely on the T to get everywhere. Work, home, doing whatever I need to, I need the T.

This winter, I’ve missed two big out-of-town meetings because I had to wait too long for the bus and I ended up missing my bus ride or my train to go out. On top of working at ACE, I have another job at Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA), and our youth are on the Boston Public School schedule. Whenever they’re out of school, we don’t teach workshops. So for three weeks straight, we didn’t teach workshops at all and it really messed up our schedule. I missed 15 to 20 hours of work.

One day, two weeks ago, I had to get to Mattapan—mind you, I live in Upham’s Corner—and I ended up having to walk about two miles to Mattapan because the T decided to shut down that whole day. They had shut it down 7:00 p.m. the night before. Having to deal with the buses not running and the T shutting down service has been a hassle. It’s been a mess that I don’t ever want to deal with again.

T Riders Union Member

March 5, 2015

Louise Baxter, T Riders Union Member

I’m with the T Riders Union (TRU), I go to some of the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) board meetings, and I advocate and lobby for public transit. I live in South Boston now, but if you go way, way back I came from New Hampshire in ’63 because there was no public transportation. I wanted to work and go to school and you couldn’t do that without a car. That’s why I came to Boston.

After the snowstorm, it was really wicked. I didn’t go out at night because you couldn’t depend on the buses and the walking is terrible. I haven’t been going down to the L Street Bathhouse to take my swim in the ocean because I didn’t want to carry my heavy bag over the ice. I used to go to Art Is Life at Haley House and I haven’t been going there because the buses aren’t running that often at night. It’s much more difficult walking and the buses aren’t always reliable even in normal times. After the storms, you didn’t know if they were running or not. I didn’t go too many places. I didn’t want to go shopping. Food got low. I wasn’t totally stranded because I could walk to Tedeschi’s, just a couple blocks away. It took me two hours to get to ACE once and it’s only two and a half miles.

People talked about how long they had to wait, sometimes it took them so long they didn’t get there. I didn’t go if I was worried about getting home.

A Historic Moment for the Environment and Racial Justice

December 6, 2014

By Dr. Daniel Faber, Staci Rubin, Esq., and Veronica Eady, Esq. of the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Alliance

Governor Patrick signs an Executive Order on Environmental Justice

As demonstrated by the events following the grand jury decisions regarding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of the police, racial inequality in America is a cancer. But there is some good news. On November 25, Governor Deval L. Patrick signed a landmark Executive Order on Environmental Justice that requires state agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their actions on low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. While this action will not result in immediate healing from a long history of racism, the Commonwealth just took one step toward addressing the legacy of racial injustice. Governor Patrick and his administration deserve congratulations for this historic act.

Environmental justice (EJ) populations reside in 137 of the Commonwealth's 351 municipalities. For too long, residents in these communities have lived with substantially greater risk of exposure to environmental health hazards than the general citizenry. The people of Chelsea, Roxbury, Brockton, New Bedford, Lawrence, Springfield, and other communities must deal daily with the dumping of garbage and chemical waste on vacant lots; toxic air and water contamination from dirty industry, incinerators, and power plants; highly polluting roadways and airports; landfills and trash transfer stations; and/or inadequate public transportation and lack of green space and parks.

A recent study by the University of Minnesota found that Boston has the fourth worse racial disparities of any city in the country with respect to public exposure to nitrogen dioxide, an air pollutant linked to asthma and heart disease. No wonder communities of color such as Dorchester and Roxbury have the highest rates of childhood asthma and emergency room visits in the Commonwealth.

Governor signs Executive Order on Environmental Justice

November 25, 2014

Governor Patrick signs an Executive Order on Environmental Justice

Today, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law an Executive Order on Environmental Justice that directs all state agencies to devote resources to protect the health, safety and environment for the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth.

He was joined by our Massachusetts Environmental Justice Alliance (MA EJ Alliance), comprised of environmental and social justice organizing and grassroots groups from across the state.