Hakim Sutherland: T Riders Union Base-building Intern

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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.

Everyone says the same thing I do. They either have to wait a half hour or 45 minutes for a bus that usually takes 10 to 15 minutes to arrive. Or there will only be one bus running on a route. Let’s say it’s a route like the 28, or the 23, or the 15, which usually have a lot of riders, and you cut it down to one bus per route—that increases the chances of having an overcrowded bus. That means a lot of people aren’t able to get on the bus, and a lot of people get stranded at the station for an hour or more waiting for the bus to come around after doing the whole loop. I just get up and walk. There have been a few times that I’ve had to walk home from Dudley.

If I didn’t have the T, I wouldn’t be able to get around the city, point blank. The T is a lifeline. And not just for me, but for all the other riders that depend on it. A lot of people aren’t able to afford a car, a lot of people aren’t able to afford a taxi, so the T is what they depend on as a mode of transportation. So if you take that away, you take away people’s ability to make money, to get their groceries and go to doctor’s appointments. Students as well—students haven’t been in school and that takes away from their education.

The T not being on time, the T being overcrowded, people having to wait so long for the T—that’s not new. What’s new is the T shutting down entirely, or stopping service at 7:00 p.m. or cutting it down to one bus per route. That, to me, doesn’t make sense. It’s really frustrating to have to deal with that on a daily basis. It’s more than I can put into words.

I see the Legislature continuing this trend of not wanting to invest in things we actually need, and as the T Riders Union, we are standing up and fighting back against this problem, hard. We need to hold our legislators accountable because they know what they’re doing and it isn’t right.