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Corridor-Wide Advisory Group Reponds to Globe Article on Transportation Inequity

Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative (FIPI)

The Fairmount Indigo Planning Intiative is a two year BRA study announced in February 2012 by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino which will look at short and long-term strategies for improving capital investment, public realm improvements and job access along the 9.2 mile Fairmount Indigo commuter rail line.  Linking South Station to Readville, the Fairmount crosses through Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park on its way to Readville. Fairmount Indigo

The initiative is the BRA’s largest planning study to date and will impact 132,000 residents who live within a half-mile of the commuter rail line.  The study will identify corridor-wide opportunities for commercial and residential development, transit access, public realm enhancements, and community building initiatives and will lay the groundwork for new opportunities to improve resident quality of life.

Currently, the Fairmount line is local train service from South Station to Readville.  It looks, acts and feels like "commuter rail" but wants in the worst way to become a light rail line - the color indigo - standing as an equal with the other colored lines in Boston - red, green, blue, orange and silver.  Until October 2012 when the 5th station stop was added, the Fairmount train consisted of only four stops plus South Station.  When the development is complete, there will be ten stops.

Many factors are making the conversion of Fairmount service slow in the coming but this "train" is gaining momentum as it moves down the planning path. Essential in the BRA planning process is a 25 member CAG or corridor-wide advisory group that meets monthly with the BRA and their consultants, The Cecil Group. Integral to the group's membership are representatives from several of the NDC's, CDC's and other non-profits who have been working on the issue of transportation equity, in some cases, for more than 15 years.

Nothing could have come at a better time than the Globe's article, as if "the stars were aligned." And with such a rallying cry for CAG members, especially under the organizing efforts of Steve Roller, they put together a "letter to the Globe editor" suggesting that one solution is at hand in the form of the Fairmount Indigo line.

More Information

Letter to the Editor in Response to the Globe Article

The November 25 Boston Globe cover story
"Black commuters face longer trips to work" provided overdue attention to how Globe-identified gaps in our under funded MBTA system disproportionately impact communities of color.  The article describes Boston's subway and bus lines as a "system of haves and have-nots," particularly highlighting the "void between the Orange and Red subway lines" in Dorchester, Roxbury and adjoining neighborhoods.

The article also rightly points to a resource at hand to address these problems.  A long underutilized commuter rail line - the "Fairmount Indigo" line - runs right through the heart of this void, from South Station to Readville.  Some 132,000 people live along the Fairmount corridor which is defined as the area within a half mile either side of the Fairmount Indigo line - about one out of every six Boston residents. 

Service along the line, however, is sorely lacking, greatly restricting access to public transit for these residents.  Weekday service is infrequent, and there is no weekend service at all.  Fares also are badly structured, up to $6 per ride, triple the rate for most Boston-based routes and a major disincentive for potential riders. 

Fortunately, major changes are underway along the Fairmount Indigo line, driven by communities along the line and supported by the MBTA and the City of Boston.

  • Several new stations are being created with funds from Big Dig mitigation settlements, including at Talbot Avenue (opened last month), and at Newmarket and Four Corners/Geneva Avenue (under construction to open in 2013).
  • Public and private funders have provided more than $27 million to support revitalization projects along the line.  Community organizations that have long advocated for these efforts have plans at the ready for housing and commercial development.
  • In 2012 the Boston Redevelopment Authority is sponsoring its largest community planning initiative to date – the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative (FIPI) - to generate an overarching vision and redevelopment strategy for the Fairmount Indigo corridor.

With this groundswell of grass-roots and institutional support, the time is ripe for the state legislature and the MBTA to lend greater support to bring the potential of the Fairmount Indigo line to fruition. 

At a minimum, residents on the line need weekend service, more frequent weekday/evening service, and more affordable “Zone 1A” rates throughout the line.  These are initial but essential steps toward realizing the community's vision for the Fairmount Indigo line to evolve into a rapid transit service like a Red or Orange line. 

And they will begin the process of eliminating the glaring disparities highlighted by the Globe story.

This letter signed by Members: Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative Corridor Advisory Group

Jeffrey Gonyeau
Dorothea Hass
Glenn Knowles
Theresa Latson
Paul Malkemes
John Marston
Neil McCullagh
Marzuq Muhammad
Steve Roller
John Sullivan
Mathew Thall
Marcia Thornhill
Michelle Waldon
Christian Williams
Daryl Wright


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Posted: December 14, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

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