The opening of the long-anticipated MBTA extension project is celebrated with a crush of riders and many accolades
Hundreds of Tufts students were up well before dawn on December 12 to mark a new era for Tufts University, riding the first train pulling out of the new Medford/Tufts Green Line stop at 4:51 a.m.
Pouring onto the station’s platform as soon as it officially opened, they filled to capacity four transit cars that sped eastward from the suburban campus into the heart of Boston.
Among those impressed by the throng was MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, one of a number of speakers at a special program later that morning in Tufts’ Joyce Cummings Center, which followed a similarly enthusiastic ceremonial ribbon cutting at the street level, complete with eight pairs of scissors.
That early morning turnout “was a key learning [moment] for me,” Poftak said. “Do not come to a college campus and challenge people to show up at 4:45, because they’ll do it. You guys were great.”
Called a welcome “one-seat ride to the rest of the MBTA system,” the station is a new terminal for a Green Line branch.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was among those who noted that the new station represents a remarkable triumph of patience, persistence, and collaboration. “I remember people talking about this project in the 1980s,” he said. “It takes a team to get it done. Everybody here today made this happen.”
He gave special thanks to former Congressman Mike Capuano, who secured $1 billion from the federal government “to pay for half of the price of this project here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” he said. “That has a lot to do with why we’re here today.”
In addition to Baker and Poftak, the speaking program included U.S. Senator Ed Markey, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn, Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, and state Secretary of Transportation James Tesler.
The new station has special significance for Tufts, connecting three campuses, making it easier for students, faculty, and staff to travel between:
- Medford/Somerville, home to the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and The Fletcher School
- Boston/Chinatown, home to the School of Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
- Fenway, home to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts
It is also expected that more than 2,500 Tufts employees living in Green Line communities will be able to use mass transit to commute to and from work.
Tufts President Anthony Monaco noted that the celebration “is the result of decades of hard work and collaboration by local officials, community members, and the university. We thank everyone who played a role in making public transport a viable, sustainable, and affordable option for Tufts and our neighbors in Medford and Somerville.”
The extension, by advancing access, equity, and sustainability, “makes Tufts a truly transit oriented university,” Monaco said. He noted that the extension translates into “fewer cars on our campuses, which will in turn reduce emissions, improve air quality, and move us closer to carbon neutrality and better health outcomes for our neighbors.”
Most importantly, he said, “the Green Line will be a partner of collaboration. It will allow our students, faculty, and staff to intern, work, and visit some of the most important, groundbreaking institutions in Massachusetts. And therefore, in the spirit of collaboration, in support of sustainability, and simply for sheer convenience, we encourage everyone to take the T to Tufts.”
Warren acknowledged the obstacles that could have sidelined the project, calling the extension “a long ride of fits and starts and near-death experiences. But we’re all here to celebrate today. This is a great project and it'll give us more transportation capacity. Capacity, frankly, that we needed for more than half a century. The extension of the Green Line will increase ridership by 50,000 rides a day. That is a measure of how badly we needed it,” she said
She said that the celebration was for those who fought so long to make the project happen. “It is about the community activists who showed up meeting after meeting in order to make your voices heard,” said Warren. “It is about the transportation environment and housing advocates who studied and produced the data we needed to move forward. It is about the local elected officials who would not take no for an answer every time this project seemed to have died. We are here to celebrate your persistence that got us here.”
Markey congratulated Tufts and Medford and called the Green Line extension a landmark achievement that is also a “statement of our values.”
The completion of the project, he said, is about enhancing service to communities not only through ridership, but by also “opening doors of educational and economic opportunity while promoting a safer, cleaner, greener mode of transportation. With 50,000 riders projected every day, the Green Line extension is a critical step towards a Green New Deal future in greater Boston.
“Days like today give me hope, hope because the people united here today truly care about the T and the people who ride it,” he said. “Hope because we share common goals to make public transit of public good, to reduce congestion on our roads and clean the air we breathe to allow anyone regardless of income, or geography, to travel safely, reliably, affordably, and sustainably. Hope. Because today’s celebration can serve as a model for what is possible when we put our faith in a shared ambition.
“And when we invest the time, the resources, the brain power to realize that ambition, the collaboration and tenacity on display here can be the guiding star on our journey ahead as we work together to chart a shining green future for the T.”