"T mulls $500G plan to urge riders to ‘appreciate’ delays"

In its article on November 21, 2017, Boston Herald mentioned T Riders Union and Organizer Kimberly Barzola

Source: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2017/11/t_mulls_500g_plan_to_urge_riders_to_appreciate_delays

Report by: Dan Atkinson

The MBTA is weighing spending more than $500,000 on a plan to convince long-suffering T riders to “understand and appreciate” lengthy service disruptions — a plan submitted by one of the companies looking to land the contract.

Transit advocates said the cash would be better spent fixing the problems faster. “It is kind of incomplete to put out proposals like this and not talk about investments they need to make,” said Kimberly Barzola, an organizer for the advocacy group T Riders Union. “It is definitely a PR front for larger changes they need to fix.”

The so-called Due Diligence posting to deal with “disruption” was publicly released last week and already has drawn interest from 19 companies. But it was initially created by tech company IDEO, which has an office in Cambridge, and submitted to the T through its Innovation Policy program.

That program allows companies to submit unsolicited bid proposals.

“The T issues Due Diligence postings if the Authority believes the proposal has merit and will benefit customers,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said, adding the T has not committed to approving any contract.

The proposed deal would be up to $525,000 and cover planned service disruptions — like upcoming closures of the D line for tree maintenance and the forthcoming two-year closure of Wollaston station — for both subway and commuter rail lines. The vendor would reach out to riders to “identify major pain points” and communicate plans about service shutdowns.

But changes in communication won’t fix problems, critics said.

“We can’t lose sight of the larger picture — there needs to be major investments in bringing the system up to higher standards of accessibility, reliability and affordability across the city,” said City Council President Michelle Wu. “We want to feel like the agency and system are designed to serve customers and riders. We desperately need it.”